Ladies, Luke and Lunch

On Sunday afternoon, around 40 women from my church, are going to be getting together and creating an audio recording of the book of Luke.

To say I am excited about this would be a bit of an understatement!!

This kind of came about because of me. No, it’s not that simple and so far from just me.

Last summer my church did a spotlight/focus group for anyone that was feeling disillusioned with church or God. Baring in mind my history – and my bewildering urge to step up and be vulnerable so others feel safe to share – I went along …

Long story short, I had coffee with a leader from church and I ended up telling a bit more of my story and trying to answer her (very familiar) question of ‘why are you still in church?!’

Once I explained I couldn’t read the Bible because it brought back too many memories from my childhood and the constant replay of my father’s voice in my head, she asked if I’d tried an audio version of the Bible …

After explaining that listening to the Bible read by a man was just a reinforcement of the “men are the final authority on God and life and you are just a feeble woman” message I grew up with, she challenged me to find a version read by a woman …

Numerous hours and frustrating clicks on my keyboard later, I found one woman read, second hand, audio version of the New Testament available for over $150, through US Amazon only.

I decided this had to be corrected and honestly? I was kind of surprised no one had noticed this gap before… I mean, how could it have slipped everyone’s notice that there wasn’t a female-voice audio Bible?!

Instead of heading down the route of crowdfunding, awareness campaigns and professional recording studios, I mentioned my plan to the amazing S who had first suggested I find this female audiobook. After one of the most spine-tingling ‘I’d been thinking the same thing’ moments ever, we had the plan I’d just dreamed of.

And so, two days from now, after notices and then an interview in one service and an interview still to come in the second service, over 40 of us women are going to come together and create what we believe is the first of its kind in the UK – a women-read audio recording of a book of the Bible.

I know I am absolutely not the only one out there who struggles with reading the Bible – for whatever the reason – and the number of any of us that would struggle to listen to it in a male voice can only begin to be recognised.

We still haven’t heard back and got the all-clear from the publishers of the TNIV, but I hope that this can be free to anyone that wants, or needs, to hear it, and can be given, free of any charge, to any organisations that seeks to heal and support anyone who has been hurt by men, of whatever gender, background or faith.

You’ve got to love a sense of humour…

Turning everything into a joke? Defiantly a coping technique! But you know what? Sometimes not the worst you could have…

I’ve got some big stuff coming up this weekend… I’ve got a post or two working through my head about it … so for now, here is a little look into my (childish) sense of humour… I’ve no idea why they mostly involve minions…

I Did Stuff!

I’m very pleased with myself today! Despite being the worst day of my period, horrible nightmares and constant anxiety, I put together two shelf units and got them into the tight space behind my desk!

Maybe not a big deal for some, but all I wanted to do was crawl back under my warm duvet and pretend the rest of the world didn’t exist … and especially that we didn’t have to go out tonight to an annoyingly cheesy course we (voluntarily!!) signed up for … But instead I did some packing and shifting and then built two shelving units, as well as shifting my desk, vacuuming, making stew and attending that flipping annoying course… sorry if you’re reading this post Sue …!!

After years of putting up with ‘my space’ being a puzzle board on my lap on the end of the sofa, and ‘storage boxes’ made out of cardboard packaging and packing tape, these storage units are a joy to look at! I have had my own desk space for the last 2 1/2 Years, but trying to keep things tidy or at least a little organised… the least said the better …

So I started with an OCD- satisfying collection of numbered fixings, made two sturdy units and have ended up with a craft space I never believed possible!

I am unashamedly looking forward to organising my craft stuff into these beauties tomorrow!

Anxiety is Exhausting

Being anxious isn’t exactly a new thing for me. But I’ve lived with it a long time, I get familiar with the regular feelings of anxiety and it kind of melds into the background normality of my life – maybe not normal or healthy for most, but it’s become my normal.

I’m about to do something pretty big and pretty brave – watch this space for more details in a few weeks.

I’m very excited about it and am convinced it is the right thing to do… but it involves me being pretty open about my story, in front of two-services-worth of my whole church …

That is just one part of the project, not even the most important part for most, but it is the motivation behind it and without doubt, the most scary part for me!

So right now, my anxiety is screaming, rolling around on the floor and demanding I pay attention. As I said, anxiety is something that’s become normal for me, but right now it’s more than I usually have to deal with. The constant reminding myself to breath evenly; trying to ignore my fast heart rate when I’m meant to be sleeping; the tightness in my breathing and the pain in my chest; the feeling deep in my throat like I’ve been breathing in too much freezing-cold air; the constant effort to un-clench my jaw and relax my shoulders… it’s exhausting.

Not just the exhaustion from the physical symptoms, but the exhaustion from a mind that won’t stop whirling with possible scenes of the events, what the repercussions might be, who might not understand, what people will say – if maybe I have made some horribly big mistake and I shouldn’t be doing this or maybe even that none of ‘it’ ever happened in the first place.

Despite being excited for this project, despite knowing it’s the right thing to do, despite wanting this to be a first step towards more… my anxiety is trying to cripple me, and it is exhausting.

100 Words

Cold air, clear night, bright stars. Earnest, longing, determined. Sure.

“God, take all of me. My life, my plans – use them for your purpose.”

Loss, numbness. Pain, grief. Anger

Family, home, faith. Gone.

In the emptiness, betrayals forgotten, are remembered.

Devastated, alone.

Tears fall. Silent sobs in the night.

“Why didn’t you stop it God? Were did you go? Why can’t I feel you?”

The stars are faint. Inky clouds mottle the darkness.

“You gave me all, I took it. You can’t see me, but I am here. You don’t understand, but it’s for my purpose.”

Daring Greatly

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Feral Families 

So I responded to a thread on Facebook.

Not something I normally do. I know that it’s a more public forum when it comes to people you know in your day to day life. At least with blogging there is some sort of a sense of being a faceless person – or at least of being able to pick and choose who knows who you are … 

This post was talking about a documentary on Channel 4 called Feral Families. These parents had taken their kids out of school and were teaching them at home … or letting them do their own thing … mostly with a no-rules attitude. 

Someone had watched it and was surprised that they weren’t as adverse to it as they thought they would be. Comments followed from varying view points, but the biggest concerns seemed to be about the children’s futures –  would their lack of education and/or standard life skills be a problem for them when they were adults? Would they regret the way they were raised?

Enter myself. I am a grown up product of an alternative education. Granted I have had added religious and abusive factors which has affected not only the way my parents handled the homeschooling, but also my experience of it and how I look back on it now. But still I am someone that has grown through homeschooling, come out of the other side and can give an answer to those questions about what the future kids will feel – not the only answer, but a valid one none the less.

I’m not sure if I was overly honest, overly critical, overly supportive, overly biased – it is very hard to tell. But these are many comments. 

I decided to watch this program after reading this thread … especially as this is quite a personal topic for me. I was homeschooled from 3-16 and ‘left school’ with no GCSEs or A Levels, poor 11-year old maths and basically no chemistry or physics. I was one of 4 siblings and we only had 3 face-to-face friends between us. There was no way we would have been classified as no-rules, as it was a religion-based choice. However ‘schooling’ was a loose term and my education was basically down to my own efforts from 13. There were other complicating factors in my childhood, but I left at 21, have lived mostly-independently since then, have held down jobs and even got accepted onto a university course. Mostly by my own determination, but I was taught very good reading, writing, communication and reasoning skills. Will I homeschool my own kids? Not unless there’s some overwhelming issue that makes it a necessity!!

On the flip side, when I was 16 I started working as a mother’s help for another homeschool family. She brought in a tutor for the subjects that she didn’t feel confident she could teach herself and would drive hours every week to make sure her three children went to clubs and socials with other homeschooled and regular-schooled children. All 3 have since got multiple GCSEs and A Levels. No 1 has gone to a good university and now has their own flat and job. No 2 decided they wanted to do their A Levels at a local college. I have a lot of respect for the persistence and strength of the Mum. 

If you have read this far – thank you so much! I felt the need to present a bit of an insiders perspective of the story! 🙂

Having re-read my comment, it might sound like I am supporting this parenting style (although I can see some benifits – definitely not!). Despite my parents belief (and I think a widely held belief of the small number of parents who started homescholing in the ’80s) that homeschooling would set us apart and universities and employers would snatch us up because of the self discipline it would demonstrate, I have found this to be far from reality! To answer Jen Ann and Joanne Hall – yes, it has a massive inpact on the child’s future! Job searching has been a massively stressful and largely unsuccsessful mission. Eventually I have found jobs in childcare, where I have the most experience – thankfully I enjoy it! But not allowing your children to take the exams by which every educational facility and employer filters their applicants – disabling. And I don’t use that word lightly.

Thank you for responding! 🙂 I don’t advertise my background and I think that sort of answers your question in itself! I am more ashamed than proud of my unusual upbringing. As I said there were other complicating factors which I hope makes my experience abnormal for homeschooled/homeraised kids. I believe everyone’s past experiences and how they handle those shape the person you are today, so would I change that person? Difficult, but I’ve fought really hard to become the person I am so … no. Most of the time! Even at 8ish I was desperate to go to school and be like other children, so I think I would have been better in a more standars route. But each child is different and I have heard amazing stories of children flourishing from being at home. I felt that at the time of programming, the children were still at the age that *of course* they prefer being at home and getting to do whatever they want – what kid wouldn’t?! Do you regret it later? I have. I think a parent should look long and hard at the motivation for the choice and should put extra effort into thoughts of their children’s future, because have they taken on a massive responsibility or what?!

When Anxiety Wins

This evening I was meant to be baking a birthday cake. 

The cake didn’t get made.

Was is just because of exhaustion? No. If I had just been tired, I would have made the cake. 

I was anxious. And my anxiety won. 

Now I’m going to have to make it tomorrow morning before work … ever heard about chronic lack of sleep and mornings? Yeah … 

My husband just asked if I’d made the cake this evening and when I said no I felt like I had to justify it (what’s new?) and said that after work, shopping for cake bits, phoning my Grandma, supper and doing a couple of days worth or washing up, I just didn’t have any energy left to bake a cake … I can imagine him thinking that, as I knew I needed to make a cake, I shouldn’t have phoned my Grandma. 

PLEASE NOTE: this is what I’m thinking, not what he said! I am probably wrong (as I usually am in these cases) and he is just looking sympathetic of my exhaustion. This is my anxiety/issues talking, not him. And later it turned out he really did understand …

This week I have been thinking of my Grandparents a lot and thinking that I should call them. Maybe because it was my birthday this week, so I normally get a card from them. Maybe because I am mourning the loss of my immediate birth family and that makes me think of my Grandparents who have been so faithful and supportive.  Whatever the reason, I meant to call them every day this week …

When I didn’t get a card from them on my birthday I (mostly) dismissed it, but the next day I was battling the paranoid thoughts that something awful had happened. It’s a long story, but basically my parents have kept emergency stuff about my Grandparents from me more than once, so I worry it will happen again …

This evening when I got home from work I was relieved to find a birthday card from my Grandparents.  It had the usual birthday cheque inside and a very typical amendment to the contents made by my Grandad!

Despite the relief of getting the expected card, I felt like I should ring them. I was exhausted and knew I should really make this cake … no, I NEEDED to ring them. 

I got on with some aimless bits and bobs, downloaded some programs to watch, but some fish fingers in the oven for supper (L was out) but got more and more panicked as the minutes went by.

I became convinced that if I didn’t phone them this evening, I would regret it for the rest of my life; that if I didn’t phone them this evening something awful was going to happen to them and I would always blame myself for not talking to them one last time …

Logically irrational? Yes. A very real, panick-inducing force? Absolutely. 

So I phoned my Grandma. The expected 10 minute chat was half an hour. Lovely, upsetting, exhausting. 

I knew when I put down the phone and started a late supper that the cake wouldn’t be made tonight. I was done. 

My week, my working day, my needed tasks, the panicked pressure to call family, the attention and emotional energy needed for a Long talk with my Grandma….

It was always going to be a slim chance of me baking after work, but my anxiety decided for me. 

Do I really think my Grandparents are going to be in some horrific set up tomorrow? Of course not! Not really … I mean, a little part of me …
Anxiety how I hate you.