Whatever is manageable, whatever is maintainable .

So although my bodies been a git today (stupid possible Oat Milk reaction) it turns out (funnily enough) that if I don’t eat 3 bars of chocolate, 2 packets of crisps a day and be as consistent with walking my dogs as much as I can, and cutting my portion sizes down I have lowered my blood sugar by 10 from 64 to 54 (needs to be a lot lower still but it’s heading in the right direction) in 2 months and I’ve lost 10lbs. Hoping I can maintain the consistency. I’ve only done things that I know I can manage. So I haven’t cut out chocolate altogether as then I would crave it. When I want chocolate I have a little bar of it under 100 cals. I still have crisps but they are under 100 calories too, and fortunately I really like lentil crisps. Have cut out butter (and I was hammering the butter! Now use Flora Proactive sparingly) and swapped to semi skimmed milk (can’t stand skimmed so pointless) which I know is all helping. I try to keep my meals to 400ish cals but not too strict on that and if I’m out I’ll try and be sensible. There are times I have struggled and worried about it all but I’m looking forward to the Diabetes support group next week which will hopefully give me more info and I can ask questions. The good thing is now I’m 39 I know what I can manage and what I can’t and theres no point doing something I can’t manage or maintain. I’ve also started doing 10-15 mins of step while watching the TV in the evenings. I know that’s manageable for me. Not setting myself any weight goals or time targets just wanting steady progress and if weight loss happens great but it’s more about putting the diabetes in reverse and feeling good in my body. Sure I’d love to get swimming and currently can’t face a swimming costume but I’m not going to rush that and if it happens great. I know me I have to do things that I will continue. If you know me you know it’s always softly softly catchy monkey with me.

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Mixed Bag.

Having a mixed bag of emotions kind a time of lately. Overjoyed, thrilled and ecstatic with the results of my dissertation and then overall degree. Still can’t really believe that I have finished it and I finished it well. Amazing. I have loved it so much and part of me is crushed that it is over. I did try and get funding for a Masters but there were a few complications that meant I couldn’t apply this year but maybe next year God willing. I really hope so. So with my degree ending it does mean that I can focus more on my job which I am grateful for and it seems like a crucial time for them so that is good news too. Now that I am not doing my degree I do have more time on my hands. Obviously I have known this has neem coming for sometime and I have also had an inkling of what to do with it. Basically I have known since the middle of the pandemic (I know, its not over yet so what counts as the middle but you know what I mean!) that at the moment I get the opportunity I absolutely must start building a community to be a part of. Whatever that might look like. When John died I needed time and space alone and I actually couldn’t handle much community at all other than my theological college and work communities. But I was SO lonely during the never ending lockdowns in Manchester that we had it soon dawned on me I was missing a personal community. Obviously not physically attending church had a massive impact on that but more on that some other time. I have recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and so have been trying to work on my diet and exercise but have been feeling under the weather a lot recently and I think it also effected the build up to John’s 42nd birthday. Saturday (the day before Johns birthday) I was feeling unwell, and the heat was making me much worse and all this effected my mood. I sat and cried. So much so the dogs came and snuggled me. I don’t like being in that place its hard. So I wrote out my plan of how to try and carry on :

– Get out more. If feeling well take up friends offers to go round (if there are offers).

– Join a community Group? Join a exercise group?

– Use the car less. Find out where to walk to and from. (Post office might be too far)

– Consistent morning and evening dog walk to help blood sugar levels,

– Sell anything I’m not directly using or need or want. Clear the lounge cupboard completely.

Now that might not sound a lot or very revolutionary but it’s all I’ve got at the moment. I miss John so much and I miss our life but I can’t stop. I miss Paula terribly but I can’t stop. I miss Dad unbelievably but I can’t stop. I’m tired and I can rest but I can’t stop. I have to keep going somehow. And this is what I have for the mean time. I’m trying to be grateful with what I have been given and where I am. Back to one day at a time for a bit.

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3 boxes.

Imagine 3 separate boxes. These are the boxes where I contain my grief. Let me explain.

The first box is where I hold memories and thoughts of John that are too painful or traumatic to think about and talk about casually. If I am going into this box I need to be somewhere safe with time and tissues. The second box holds memories and thoughts of John that are emotional but I can talk about them, thinking about them and I might shed a tear or two but they wouldn’t derail me completely like anything from box one would. The third box hold memories and thoughts that I can think of often and without sad emotion, pleasant memories or neutral thoughts. Or thoughts that have been in box one and moved through to box two and are now in box three. So in mind my thoughts and memories of John and our time together are categorised into these boxes. I know which are in which box and so I know which I can talk freely and openly about and which to avoid when in public etc.

Sounds good, right? Sounds ordered. Grief, however, as many people know and despite how hard I try to make it, is not like that. Also, time has no effect whatsoever. For 5 years and 3 months I have been able to think about, talk about and see on tv Liverpool Albert Docks where John and I got engaged without sad emotions and sometimes neutrality, so this would be in box 3. Yesterday it jumped into box one. I sat and sobbed my heart out as it appeared on the TV. And then I was angry. Angry that I can’t control it. Angry that I thought I was “safe” with those thoughts. grief makes no sense and its horrible to try and live with. Will somethings ever come out of box one? Or will they stay there forever? Admittedly I should be grateful that there are boxes two and three, because with the grief for my sister Paula it is mostly all in box one. There is very little in box two and no box three at all. My Dads grief is much more sporadic, I probably do have three boxes but they jump all over the gaff but the boxes are not as overwhelming as John or Paula’s grief. My whole life was with John and Paula is such a tragedy I don’t even know where to begin.

I’m tired. I’m tired of consciously and subconsciously trying to process it all. I genuinely don’t have the energy for it. Just before the pandemic hit I was starting to get used to being without John and know who I was when I was out in public. I was starting to gain confidence in being who I am without him. 2 and a half years without having to do that however has meant I am now having to go through that all over again. My therapist say it is not the same but it sure feels like it. Back to crying in supermarkets again. I know my Dads death too will have affected that too cause I just don’t feel safe without him being around. If things go really wrong I know Dad would have sorted it out no matter what, no question. Now it feels very much just me and Keeley. And we are doing are best. And I will do my best for her and make sure she’s ok. Currently I have just about enough energy to get up, get dressed (some days!), get the dogs and myself fed, and do my work. After that I have little to no energy left. Sometimes I head straight to bed. This frustrates me cause I’m lonely, desperately lonely and I need to be around people and maintaining friendships and making new friends and building a new community for myself and my future. But at the minute I can’t. Its taking everything in my just to function. I have no answers either. I don’t know what to do. I need to go back to church but again, no energy. What about the Lord Vick?, I hear some of you say, good question, when you have an answer or have heard from Him, do let me know won’t you(!). The extrovert in me is so loud but I don’t have the capacity. I also have no idea when this will end but I can tell you in the first words I heard as I stepped off the train for my first day in Liverpool, “it’s kettling my swede.”

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Pain, confidence, fragility and faith

So after having a searing pain in the top back of my thigh I ended up at an emergency Doctors at 2am on Saturday morning. Turns out its a trapped nerve, thankfully not a blood clot like they suspected. I had about 5 hours sleep in total from Friday till Tuesday and boy was I a wreck, tired, irritable and like a toddler. Trying to function normally and failing. Making stupid decisions that no doubt will come back to haunt me in the next few months as I got scared about security, as there has been a spate of break ins on the estate and spent money I don’t have on security devices. The tiredness and pain just piled up on my low self confidence to do with my dissertation and being overwhelmed by it with. I just don’t feel I can do it and its driving me crazy. I feel I don’t understand anything I am reading and sitting down to write I just cry and walk away. Very scared its not going to get done, and devastated at the thought. I want to do it so bad and I want to get it in but its not happening no matter how hard I try. All this has made me think about how fragile I am. I always say life is fragile due to everything that’s gone on, and losing members of my family in sudden and tragic ways but I never really see myself as fragile. By God’s grace I keep on going despite most circumstances but recent events have made me see that a few things can upset me and cause me to spiral. I was prescribed some painkillers by the Doctor but they are also anti depressants. I have nothing against antidepressants if someone needs to take them, however I do know that if you only take them for a short time which I would be they can make your mood worse, and I currently cannot let that happen. Especially give what happened to my Sister dying by suicide. I have to remain vigil about this. I am in a low place but I am not there thankfully and I cannot let myself go for the sake of my family or go anywhere near there. I have seen how fragile I am now, I’m not 100% sure what I do or how I get out of where I am at. Yesterday I spoke to my friend Habiba and as we normally do, she quizzes me on Christianity and I quiz her on Islam and how they effect our lives and behaviour. Only yesterday both of us were in a low mood, so it wasn’t our normal high energy bouncing off each other. I went first, “In Christianity we talk about how/what God is doing in our life/s, do you have an equivalent of that?” Then she gave an answer I had not expected but that articulated so honestly how I feel about my faith at the moment it stopped me in my tracks completely: “Well, apart from feeling abandoned by God and like he is not doing anything at all, even though I know thats not true and I am not going to walk away, yeah we do.” Wow I thought. I know what I’m about to write isn’t true and it pains me to admit it, but I feel forgotten about by God. I feel left just to deal with the fall out from everything that has happened in my life. I don’t know where God is and I don’t know how he is working. I can’t see him at all. I’m fragile but weirdly my faith doesn’t feel fragile. I’m not going to walk away from God. I realised after 26 years I cannot. So I’m hear silently waiting at a spiritual bus stop whimpering in pain waiting for God to do something. Anything really.

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Haven’t written for a while! Just haven’t had the words or the energy. The world has been exhausting with the pandemic and the nonsense politics Johnson and the Conservatives are subjecting us too. 😡 Don’t get me started cause I might not stop on that! So moving on. Anniversaries. You would think that after having roughly 19 different anniversaries /birthdays since John/Paula/Dad died (more if you count my wedding anniversary as a day, cause sometimes it is believe me!) I would have realised that the aftermath can be just as long and hard as the build up to the anniversary/birthday. I don’t know why I forget this. I remembered to take the day off work the day after John’s fifth anniversary of him dying and the build up was awful. The day before I felt like it had just happened again. All the pain and the despair was so visceral. Because of this I anticipated that the day after I could rest and recover and then I would be back up and on with things. However it has not played out this way. I am exhausted and my mind is a total fog. I am struggling with just about everything and even though I am managing to function, I am only just managing by the skin of my teeth. All uni work has ground to a halt cause my mind can’t get a handle on it whatsoever. And it really needs to as have an essay due in 10 days time. Plus need to work on my dissertation asap. I have never had an overhang of grief from an anniversary go on for days like it has done. I am unprepared. Please note all of the grief and brain fog is arising from my subconscious. I am not willing any of it. I do wonder if it is because Dads first year anniversary was so close to John’s 5th and whether the two grief’s have collapsed into each other. I also wonder the effect of the pandemic on the grief I have/haven’t had for my Dad. 🤷🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️. All I can say is: It’s A LOT. I had an extra session with my therapist last week as I keep having nightmares and they are terrifying and exhausting to see if that would help, but it has not so far. Every night there is a traumatic dream of some sort or a night terror where I don’t know whether I am awake or a asleep. Vile. Know that I’m trying my best, but navigating it is rough at the minute. Anniversaries and the days leading up to, the day and the days following can be unpredictable and when you have so many a year like I do it’s tiring. I try to ignore them but that doesn’t work, my subconscious just kicks off. Sometimes they are awful, sometimes they pass by with relative interruption. My therapist says I’m doing really well all things considered. I guess I just need to be happy with that.

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An open letter to first year theology students.

Dear first year theology student,

I have just started my sixth year of a part time BA degree, and I wanted to share a few thoughts with you. Firstly, welcome to an amazing journey. It will be worth your energy and the things you have sacrificed to make this happen. In my experience theology is exhilarating and captivating. Secondly, if you let it, it will take you deeper and further in your relationship with God. You will grow in the things of God, and it will help you appreciate the nuances of faith and belief. If you are studying part time you will be juggling study and everyday life, and here’s what I really wish to tell you: if/when life gets difficult (and if you are studying for a long period of time, life can change a lot) try and keep going with your studies. Even when things are really tough, try your hardest to keep at it. Not for some vain reason, or out of dogged determination, but because it will ground you (and your faith) in a way I cannot explain. During my second term of my first year my husband died very suddenly, and I was shaken to the core (I know we sing songs about not being shaken but big events do shake you up…but let me not get started on that). Within hours of John’s death I decided to keep studying as at that point it was the only thing I had in my life that produced any joy for me. It was hard to keep going and my first essay back was appalling BUT I had to think through things of faith, I had to face the challenges I was going through with God. What I found was that God showed me his goodness and mercy through my studying. A year and a half later my sister died by suicide, and by God graciousness I managed to carry on with my degree, again not easy, but worth it. Again, I was shown the goodness and mercy of God. Earlier this year my Dad passed away. At almost every stage I have been a few essays behind, it is only now that I have finally caught up. So even if you struggle, even if you are behind, even if you doubt, keep going. I promise you it is worth it.


A very grateful and thankful, nearly finished, BA Student.

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Time will tell.

During my ten days of isolation after Dad had died and I’d watched every single thing ever on all the streaming platforms and catch up I watched this film about an Australian film maker who suffered with depression. When it got really bad he would take himself off to a wooden shack on a remote beach and he filmed himself one time. Everything was very basic no stove but a fire that he would wind up to make it hotter, no electric, though he must have had some for electronics that filmed him. He kept chickens there and would cook himself (awesome) food (steadily working his way through the chickens, although this time 3 escaped!) while he waited the depression out. He would go for long walks and spend time thinking and generally looking after himself in really simple ways, nothing fancy. The film was mostly silent too. I feel like this is what I need to do. Since Dad died I haven’t really had the energy to look after myself properly hence why I have put on a lot of weight since then as I’ve been living off a diet of potato waffles, noodles, pies, McDonald’s and toast. In my job we are keen to point out that bereavement is not depression, and that’s right, but it can act like a form of depression. Since my friend cooked for me the other day and I saw how easy it was, I have made 3 meals. Easy meals but still made them, yes aided by jars and sauces and not completely from scratch but not made in a microwave or a toaster! Little steps in the right direction! I’ve also made flapjack and brownies too! I don’t know whether I have turned a corner or whether I’m just bored of myself, ha! I guess time will tell.

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Treading water

Yesterday I went to see one of my good friends who I haven’t caught up with in actual years. It was so good to see them and hear all about their life and whats happening. We reminisced about times with John and I recalled how we had employed them in our business and how distant that all feels now. I was anxious when I set off to my friends because I genuinely didn’t know how I would feel, because of the length of time, the isolation of the last year and a half and because my memories with them are all when John was alive. I was excited to see them as I love them to bits and they have always been kind to me, and they dropped off food when Dad died and I had to self isolate in Feb. On the way home in the car I felt really conflict in my feelings, on one hand I was so grateful to see them and spend time with them and on the other hand I was so sad that I missed the life I had with John. Its crazy now to think that I used to have a business that employed 14 people at one point. Granted it was John’s business and he was the brains behind it but I played my part as best I could. It is really difficult not to start comparing my life back then to my life now. I have to fight so hard against that. I need to remember I am in a very different place now and life is very different. Yes back then I felt like we could do anything and we were heading somewhere and making a real difference in the community and the world, and now I feel tiny and like I have no direction. If the Lord could give me some direction that would really help me, I’m in desperate need of some. Part of my problem is I knew that when I was with John everything would be ok even if it wasn’t. We had been through some really difficult and hopeless situations but together we had got through them and we knew where we were heading and what we wanted to do. Now I sometimes have no idea whether I will make it through the next week or not. Not that I would do anything to end my life but more that I won’t be able to get out of bed cause I will have started to give up. Despite it being 4 and a half years since John died I still have no direction or purpose to who I am or where I’m going in life. Now some will say, you don’t need it, loads of people don’t have it. But I need a little bit of something. It might be that I just need a good sleep and I will feel better. (The heat has been awful.) Others might say I depended on John too much for my purpose and direction and maybe thats true, all I can tell you is when I was with him I knew what we were about and where we were going. I have worked really hard on knowing who I am and what I am about and I’m happy with the progress I have made. However, I still feel like I am lost at sea just treading water.

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I don’t know.

Yesterday while out walking the dogs I bumped into someone (not literally, social distancing et al.) from church who I haven’t seen since March 2020. We had a little chat and at the end they said ‘Hope to see you in church sometime soon.’ I have not been back to a church service since the first lockdown began. Memories of church came flooding back to me as I walked away, but I was left as I am with so many things wondering what I do now. With all restrictions on what we can and can’t do, what we must and must not do set to lift on Monday I find myself left wondering what I should do. Back at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020 I was conscious that I live alone and have no family here to look after me should I need them too if I caught Covid and it had serious consequences for me, yes I have good friends but they need to look after thier families first and rightly so. Also due to this I was not in a support bubble, so for over a year and a half I have been very cautious. I have seen a handful of people, a couple of times, I have been out for a meal twice once last summer and once a few weeks ago but both times was anxious underneath the service, and I have had my shopping delivered weekly. Now I have been double vaccinated do I venture out more? Do I start going shopping? Do I go back to church? This should be a relatively easy decision to make however, Covid case numbers are jumping up wildly. I know of two people who are double vaccinated and still ended up in hospital. I know that some people in church have not been wearing masks for a while and breaking social distancing measures, which I view as unsafe. It would be awful if after all this time and the measures I have taken to stay safe to end up in hospital with it now. ALSO I really, really, really, want to go to my last of the course, Uni Residential in September, honestly, if I couldn’t go cause I got Covid and was too poorly I would be devastated and not sure how I would recover from that alone, never mind the Covid. So I often sit in my flat just wondering ‘what do I do?’ And I have no answers. I don’t want to live in fear as so many people keep banging on about but equally are they going to be the ones that look after me if I get it? No. Also I’m not sure what ‘going back to normal’ looks like now. And don’t even get me started on going forward for ordination….when that topic arises within in me this happens: ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Not a scooby do. Way to many questions I can’t answer. Does the church really even want clergy as the message they give out is so mixed I have no idea. I definitely do not want to be on a PCC ever in my life as after all that has happened to me over the years I am not wasting time sitting in pointless meetings arguing about trivial stuff. So that rules me out of some of it so maybe I need to readjust it, but to what? Maybe God was never really calling me to that but wanted me to go as far as I can do with it? Why would God call me to an institution that is so riddled with patriarchy, racism and homophobia? And such an unsafe place for anyone to be employed by? The things I’ve been taught about the calling of God mean that all of that could be true and none of it could be true. “God won’t call you to something that makes sense.” “God will call you to something you don’t necessarily want to do.” This doesn’t paint a very pleasant picture of a lovely father to me however and that creates issues. So after all that has happened God wants me to do something I don’t particularly want to in an unsafe place…. now…. I am not saying that God can’t make me want it or that He can’t make it safe for me. Of course He can, but just cause God can doesn’t mean that He will. So I am left with wondering what I should do in the micro and the macro sense of things.

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A reflection on 25 Years (Long read)

25 years ago today I raised my hand at a youth weekend away with Kenilworth Youth for Christ. What a journey its been. 2 months after this my second nephew Alex was born severely brain damaged due to a Doctor’s negligence and my sister Paula very nearly didn’t make it either, Alex died after 7 days. It was heart breaking. I was only 13 at the time and spent the whole of that summer away from home at Paula’s as Mum and my other sister Keeley and Dad dealt with the ramifications. Being such a new Christian and at that point hardly having any input I was baffled by how I had spent the day and night my sister was in labour praying my heart out for the end result to be so devastating. I sacked God off for a few weeks as thought this wasn’t what I had signed up for. He was meant to help and it appeared He didn’t. I returned to God a few weeks later because I came to realise that by that stage I had already incorporated my faith into my life and heart, I had stopped hanging around with some kids that were getting into smoking, sex and starting to dabble with drugs and I genuinely was intrigued by the faith that had been presented to me, it felt like I was entering a different world. So I ignored my questions over Alex and what had happened and started back on the journey.

Faith was hard when I was at school, because at youth group it was so easy. But I couldn’t quite change who I was at school, I still swore and was crude and loved a bit of smut. But I was basically just doing everything to get though school any way I could because my home life was such a mess. Mum and Dad arguing and fighting most nights. Both of them drunk on Sundays and me left to my own devices. Mid week Youth group was my escape and I relished it. It brought me a hope I couldn’t find anywhere else. 2 years later when I was introduced to church I was so scared. I could hardly bring myself to walk in the door, I don’t even know why. By this stage I knew God and knew I loved him but still it was scary. Those first few months I would leave the house on a Sunday at the earliest opportunity to get out and then slowly make my way to church and end up bang on time…fast forward 6 months and I am at church early, loving it and crying my eyes out every single service. I loved going to church so much. I found a place alongside youth group where I felt welcomed and loved.

When I left 6th form after doing my GCSE retakes I went to Stratford College and because it was a new start I knew I could set a different way of behaving than I did in school. So I dropped the swearing, the crude talk and the smut and genuinely tried to be the best Christian I could possibly be. I actually look back at this part of my Christian walk with fond memories, I really enjoyed, I went to the college Christian Union and I felt confident and happy in my faith. At home my life was awful, now Dad had left I was the focus of all of Mum’s anger, sorrow and bitterness. She attempted suicide on a couple of occasions and it was horrendous. I am grateful for my faith at this time cause it truly was an anchor in the storm. I had a motto around this time, if I can remember it… I used to say to God, “I just want to be who you want me to be and do what you want me to do”

After College through encouragement from my church leaders I got my first full time job, I protested against it as I wanted to go Bible College but they said only if they saw that I could get on by myself first and I REALLY wanted to go Bible College so I did EVERYTHING they said. I got a job, I held it down. Mum kicked me out (then wanted me back…long story), so after sofa surfing and even living in a caravan on someone’s drive for a few weeks I happened to rent a flat off some people from church. My faith was beautiful and innocent, the prayer times were gorgeous that I had in the flat. Also something I’ve thought about recently is I would spend hours in the evenings typing out the books of the Bible on my computer. For no reason really.

I left that lovely little flat and my job (didn’t love that so much!) to go to Capernwray Bible School, which up until that point was the pinnacle of my life. I still feel happy about it after all these years. I loved it sooo much. Being taught the Bible for 6 hours a day every day for 9 months. I literally couldn’t get enough. I was so gutted when it came to an end. For some reason I had believed that afterwards I would walk into an amazing Christian job and not have to worry about anything ever again. How silly. So when that didn’t happen and I ended up back at home with my Mum I was left floundering. Thankfully I managed to leave my mums and then I got a job at Coventry Cathedral. I loved my time at the Cathedral and again I love that period of my faith. Once again I had a joyous, childlike, innocent faith. I had dreams and felt like God spoke to me on a monthly basis, if not weekly. So when that came to an end I was very upset.

I got a job working for John Lewis and my faith, little did I know it, was about to hit a weird bump. 6 weeks into working there, on a Sunday morning my Mum died. I remember being taken to a stock room and told I was to ring my Dad, I knew something was horribly wrong. When Dad cried down the phone that Mum had died my reflex response was to ask, ‘What do I do now?” Dad said , ‘Just get home’. Its weird that I said that out loud to my Dad because it actually wasn’t him that I was asking. It was God. I had honestly and sincerely, and now looking back, naively, believed that God would heal my Mum of her alcoholism, she would become a Christian through me witnessing her praying the sinners prayer and all would be well. Now none of that had happened, where did that leave me and God? What did I believe now? Unthinkably for me was would I ever see my Mum again in heaven if I hadn’t heard her prayer the sinners prayer? I couldn’t even go there without having a panic attack. Even though my relationship with my mum was complicated I did really love her and when she died I was so heartbroken. I realised (as we often do in hindsight) how precious and valuable she was, how she did love me, she was just in so much pain and her alcoholism was knackering everything and herself up. Part of me felt guilty for feeling a little relieved that she was no longer suffering the way she had been, she had given up even trying to cope and was just wasting her life watching TV in a drunken stupor. But my struggled with God were immense. I questioned whether my faith was based on him performing miracles in mum’s life or whether I actually believed God for who he was. I couldn’t go to church for a few months as I just couldn’t face it. I knew by that stage in my life though I had little else other than my faith, so eventually I stopped wrestling and put the questions aside and cracked on.

By 2008 I was ready for a move and thats just what I did. I had prayed and asked God what I should do and although I didn’t have any huge revelations or words from God I got a transfer and moved to Liverpool. At the start it was so exciting but I hadn’t anticipated how hard finding a church was going to be. I really struggled and because I wasn’t in a Christian community I felt my faith was starting to fade. I knew I was to embark on something in my life I just didn’t know what. I did find a little starting up church that was lovely, and then I met John and faith was easier again, I moved over to his church, and then married him.

I currently have complicated feelings about my faith with John and the church we went to. Firstly, let me say I am very grateful for everything that happened while I was there and what John and I learnt and did with and through that church. We did some amazing things because of the faith that was taught, and I wouldn’t change that. I love my friends from there deeply and miss a lot of them very much. More so than I care to admit at times. For me however, subconsciously it strengthened any of the more conservative beliefs I may have had. I doubled down on them. Things were black and white. There was no room for grey areas, and if anyone thought there were, they were wrong. My faith became very dualistic. Right, wrong. Spiritual, secular. No in between. If you don’t believe exactly the right things or you deviate slightly in those beliefs you are anathema. Reflecting on all that as I just have done I can tell that I was avoiding the grey areas by pushing them aside whenever they arose. What had happened with baby Alex? What about God at that time? What had happened with Mum? Where was she? What do I do with all that? Black and White means I can’t process any of that as its a grey area, just get on with here and now cause life’s going well. Don’t look back. Too busy anyway, there’s things to do, people to serve, ministry to do. And we did it all. Everything and we loved it.

John dying up ended everything. As one would expect. I still believed in God and I still wanted to serve him but the moment John died in that operating theatre it felt like the Holy Spirit and God’s presence left hurriedly in a vacuum back to heaven. How could I make sense of all this. Things were black and white, except now, there really weren’t and I couldn’t deny it. How had this happened? Why did God not intervene? I had prayed so hard, I had begged and screamed as they were working on him. Nothing. Nada. What do I do now? That old question came back to me. Hadn’t we a few months earlier as a church all stood and prayed fervently for John to have a long healthy life? What now? What about me? It would take another gazillion words to recount how my faith journey has progressed from here in the last 5 years which you can read about in various posts on this blog so I won’t go over it all again. Paula dying a year and a half later, the struggles I had accepting my sexuality, living in a pandemic and Dad dying have all added to the twists and turns.

Miraculously I still have a faith. My little flame hasn’t gone out yet. It has certainly flickered the past 5 years, but every time I though it would snuff out, something, or someone has come along to fan the flame and keep it going. My degree has helped NO END and I will forever be grateful to God for it and all He has done through it. But also I am beyond grateful and thankful to all the people how have helped me along the way. People who have journeyed with me through the years, people who have chatted to me about God. People who have taught me inside and outside church. But mostly for people who have prayed for me. I wouldn’t have a faith if it hadn’t been for people’s prayers along the way. Thank you if you have prayed for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And lastly, thank you to Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. You have been my anchor in many a storm, even if I haven’t been able to see you or feel you at the time. Looking back it is clear you have kept me. You have held me and hidden me, and I believe You will continue to do so.

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