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  • Sharon Tootill 2:52 pm on October 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Adoption Sunday, , , church, , , , open to life   

    Open to Life 

    I had a dream last night that I was at a Christian large family conference somewhere (and as far as I know, there is no such thing). The room was filled with pregnant women, mothers with babes in arms and prams and pushchairs, and the speaker was talking about how the church needs to value children and families, and we should all be ‘open to life’.

    Meanwhile, I was standing at the back, and although I was in the same room, it was as though there were a glass barrier between me and the rest of the room. I could hear the speaker, and the sound of the mothers and their babies, but I was screaming and crying and flailing my arms about trying to get somebody to pay me attention, but nobody could hear me.

    screaming

    Well I guess I may need therapy! lol!

    Co-incidentally, I had a phone call out of the blue from the midwife. It was odd because I had left a message with the surgery months ago asking about a miscarriage / babyloss support group – there isn’t one here, and I miss the fellowship of the groups I used to go to.

    The midwife confirmed that she’s not aware of anything near here, so she gave me some numbers and suggested that I might like to try and set something up. There is a need for support, and there is nothing on offer for at least an hour in any direction. (The same is true for most things of course, and is just one of the issues of living in a very rural & isolated place.)

    My grief comes in waves – it is becoming a longer and longer time ago, but when the waves hit, it is just as raw as ever. I don’t think it ever goes away, and I am not looking for something to make it do that. But I do think that sharing burdens lightens them, makes them easier to carry, and I think that sometimes the best way to help yourself is to step up and help other people through the same thing.

    Going back to the dream, churches are variable obviously and have different ideas and different emphases, but I have been involved with groups that place a lot of emphasis on children as a blessing, with the linked idea that a large family is a reward for being a good and faithful Christian (and the flip side of that being that loss or lack of children must therefore be the result of sin or failure as a Christian – I reject that notion, by the way, and I think that the large family advocates haven’t thought through this logical flip-side).

    I think there can be also be an emphasis in any church on ‘happy families’ which can be excluding to people who struggle with singleness, infertility, miscarriage and babyloss, as well as to families who struggle with children with behavioural issues, which could include families of adopted children who have been through trauma. We definitely need to learn to be more sensitive and inclusive of people who hurt.

    With Adoption Sunday coming up on 2nd November, hopefully churches will get a brief window into the fact that not all families are happy or healthy, and be introduced to the idea that as Christians, we should be open to life from a different source, and that the whole church community needs to get on board to pray for, support and bless the families of looked after and adopted children.

    The congregation I am part of is around 90% retired, so I don’t expect there will be many offers to actually go in for adoption, but hopefully it will be my chance to tell my church community that, if we do go ahead and adopt, I will be relying on their support and prayers to carry us through.

    Taking this from Home for Good‘s Adoption Sunday Pack and service outline, I’d like to leave you with the following questions:

    • Is God calling some of us here to step forward as foster carers or adopters?
    • Is God calling us, as his family – the church, to do more to support families that foster and adopt?
    • Is God calling us to use our voice, our influence, our prayers and our money to make sure every child that needs one has a home?

    The adoption Sunday Pack, if you would like to make use of it in your church, can be downloaded as a pdf file here.

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    • puzzledbythepieces 8:40 pm on October 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I have found a tremendous amount of support in the blogging world. There are so many parents who are attempting to figure out the grieving journey. It is nice to hear other peoples stories, if not just to confirm that my own journey is “normal.” I pray that you find a the support group that you are looking for. Grief certainly does come in waves. Sometimes it just its you out of nowhere! Little things seem to trigger it sometimes. I also love that you are a supporter of adoption. What a beautiful way to give a child a loving and supportive family! Thanks for sharing!

      Like

    • Johnathan Ness 9:18 pm on October 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      My wife and I intend to adopt in a few years, probably from overseas. God bless you and your efforts.

      Like

  • Sharon Tootill 2:12 pm on October 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , church, , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Autumn Update 

    autumn

    When all my activities finished at the end of term before the summer holidays, I was relieved because I knew I had been overdoing things. But what I hadn’t realised was that when the adrenaline (or whatever) stopped, I would completely crash.

    I spend a lot of time determinedly denying that what I have is M.E. I have eight pages of notes to bash my GP with – there are so many other things that I should be tested for, that should be ruled out before they give up and diagnose M.E., so many things they should try, so many things they could offer before they tell me that “there’s nothing we can do”. But this thing of feeling terrible when you stop, this ‘post-exertional malaise’ is typical of M.E.

    The whole summer was essentially ruined because I was too ill to go out – despite living a few minutes’ drive from the beach, I wasn’t able to get there. I wasn’t even able to sit out in the garden. I haven’t been this ill for a long, long time.

    So I haven’t resumed Scouts or Guides, and I have given up Boys/ Girls Brigade, with no plans to take it up again any time soon. I had another reason for dropping Scouts and Guides – after nearly two years of volunteering, neither of them had bothered to do a CRB check (or DBS as I think they’re called now). Neither had they sent me for any training, despite me repeatedly asking for it and indicating that I was serious and wanted to be a uniformed officer. In fact, at one stage I was asked to take over the section I was working in, and I indicated that I would be interested to do it, with help, but the help wasn’t available.

    It seemed to be the case that it was completely up to the volunteer to ensure that they have the correct training and certification, and nobody seemed bothered. I wasn’t prepared to carry on in the position where, if something when wrong, I could be liable. That really isn’t acceptable.

    There were a lot of things about Scouts in particular that opened my eyes to bad practice and some of the inappropriate people involved in it, and I have to say that I would be very, very reluctant to put any young children of mine in a youth group that I hadn’t investigated thoroughly, or that I could perhaps be personally involved with. The willingness of parents to leave very young children with people who are really not at all suited to be working with children amazed me. The stress of that is something that I am very happy to be leaving behind.

    I have had approximately ten weeks rest now, and although I’m not really feeling better, I am hopeful that my GP is now willing to offer me something since he has discovered that my blood pressure has shot up suddenly (although he doesn’t know why – he likes to blame it on my weight, but I haven’t put any on in the last year, and this time last year it was basically perfect). I have no idea why, but hopefully some medication might start to make me feel more human again.

    Unfortunately, I am cross that in all that time, being unable to go to church, I haven’t had a single visit or even a phone call. I have been getting more and more cross about that as the weeks have gone on. I assumed that they knew how ill I was because my eldest son is a bell-ringer and sees them every week. But he told me last week that my husband told them I was “fine”. Because apparently, from experience, this is how he deals with things. They have to be private, nobody else is to know, in case we worry people. Please.

    Really, am I an awful person for wanting to tell people I am ill and need help? Should I be worrying, like he does, more about everybody else not worrying?!

    Needless to say, I have become progressively more depressed and distressed over the last ten weeks. But part of that is to do with having too much time on my own to dwell on all the trauma and distress from the events of the last few years. While I was busy, I thought I was moving on to a new normal. But now I am right back in that dark place of grief.

    I have continued to wonder about adoption. One of my online contacts had got to the point of being approved by panel, but then decided that she couldn’t go ahead. It’s huge. Taking on a traumatised child – even a baby – is so much more fraught with difficulty than having a baby yourself. If I manage to get my health to a point where I could consider going ahead, do I have the emotional strength to cope?

    Additionally I have had the stress of having to make a formal complaint about my boy’s paediatric diabetes team. I won’t bore you with the details right now, but suffice to say that we have elected to transfer hospitals in an effort to secure a better service. But this has been stressful and upsetting to say the least. But I have done it.

    I discovered today that my old friend’s wife, the one who made a fuss a few months ago that I hadn’t enthused about her pregnancy, has blocked me on both my accounts. I don’t care much about her to be quite brutally honest. She is a shallow, selfish character who would never even want to bother trying to see somebody else’s pain or point of view. I felt like sending him an angry, ranting message or unfriending / blocking him in retaliation. Instead, I just sent him a message telling him that I am sad.

    When you have lost babies, or have a sick child, or you have to deal with ill health, you are going to have some level of underlying sadness. I would love to just get happy. I want to live, I want a full life. I just wish I knew how.

    My next post will be happy, I promise.

     
    • orthodoxmom3 2:00 am on October 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      No you are not an awful person for wanting to tell people. That’s healthy. Your husband’s response is pretty normal to for men, in my experience. I pray you find answers to your health and other considerations in life very soon!

      Like

      • lillbjorne 8:08 pm on October 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Thank-you! I think you are right about it being a difference in the way men and women relate – we need to talk! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  • Sharon Tootill 4:22 pm on June 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: church, , , ,   

    Dealing with Negativity 

    I’ve been home educating since 1999, so I ought to be used to this, but we are in a new area, meeting new people, and somehow it feels like starting over from scratch.

    It always seems odd to me that all the opposition I’ve had about home education has always come from within the church. I get a lot of support and encouragement from everybody else – old, young, teachers, parents etc.

    But somehow, even tho I don’t preach it or try to force my views on anybody, some people in the church – despite all the evidence that home educated children are polite and well behaved – can’t seem to stop criticising at every chance they can get, and to be honest, it is getting me down.

    Fortunately it’s not at my own church, it’s a leader at a youth group, but it’s kind of relentless. My children enjoy the group so I don’t want to stop going.

    Any advice?

     
  • Sharon Tootill 5:15 pm on June 1, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , church, ,   

    Plan to Help Ailing Rural Corps 

    I managed to get to the Salvation Army today, the first time in a couple of months.

    I came away disheartened and discouraged. I really think that, in rural places like this, and perhaps particularly in Cornwall, the Salvation Army will die unless it makes some changes and soon.

    In this particular corps, there are no young people, no families, no children. Only 3 uniformed members, including the corps officer. 13 attendees in total including myself and the corps officer. The only midweek meetings / outreach a monthly Bible study.

    Off the top of my head, there are a bunch of things that could be done to build up ailing corps.

    1. Committed, experienced uniformed salvationists should be encouraged to retire to Devon and Cornwall and their families should be encouraged to visit.

    2. Young salvationist families should be encouraged to come during the summer holidays to Devon and Cornwall on mission to bring young families into the corps. Look for example at United Beach Missions http://www.ubm.org.uk/

    3. Young salvationists should be invited to spend a gap mission year, unpaid (or perhaps supported by their sending corps) but with free board and lodging, to work with the corps. The only limit to the number and length (number of years) of these mission places is the number of people willing to feed and house them.

    4. Regular marching, with the Salvation Army banner, around the town on the way to the meeting on a Sunday, handing out leaflets inviting people to join the meeting.

    5. Don’t limit yourselves to what you can achieve now. Do some research to find out what local needs are, pray about them and take a step of faith to start meeting those needs. Make prayer a priority.

    6. Don’t assume that it’s enough to be a friendly and welcoming bunch. You need to be investing in real relationships. Superficial friendships aren’t much use to anybody.

    7. Don’t abandon the hymns, don’t replace them with choruses and modern songs, but do make sure that you choose hymns that are well-known, catchy and joyful, especially for the final hymn.

    8. Other corps within striking distance should be willing to ‘loan out’ bandsmen and songsters to stand in and teach until resident corps members are able to form a band themselves.

    There’s more I could say but this will do for now.

    I’m torn between enthusiasm and frustration. I stopped going regularly because my request to become a soldier was ignored and not pursued despite many months of faithful attendance.

    But I love the Army and I hope they will do something about their dwindling numbers before it’s too late.

     
  • Sharon Tootill 12:04 pm on May 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , church, , , , , psychology,   

    Deep River of Fish 

    I was listening to an article on Premier Radio earlier about God speaking to us through dreams, and taking note of symbolism. I didn’t hear it all, so I’m not sure who the author was or the name of the book, but I had such a weird dream, I wanted to share it!

    I was with a group looking over a cliff, down into a ravine where it looked like clear, blue water. Somebody in the group said “this is the deepest water in the world”.

    Suddenly, I don’t know how I got there, I was down in the ravine with my children. Instead of clear blue water, the river was chock full of fish – some dead, some alive. It was so full that you could almost stand on top before you started to slip down. We scrambled into the corner to find a safe, rocky place.

    We turned around to see several divers, in old-fashioned, metal diving suits. They were each lying as if dead on top of the lake of fish. Some had begun to sink down in under the fish.

    The river seemed to end here, and more fish were flowing in constantly.

    Then we noticed that there were people down there, fighting and arguing in the other corner.

    A man bunjee jumped down to the people on the other side and handed a deodorant to one of the women, who said that was just what she needed, and then bunjee jumped away. That was the end of the dream.

    What do you make of that?!

    I thought it was a totally crazy dream with no discernible meaning but when I think of the symbolism from a Christian perspective, I can’t help seeing the fish as people and the divers as churches, and the rocky place as Jesus… And then maybe the bunjee jumper as missions coming to help people but not giving them what they need or lifting them out of the ravine.

     
  • Sharon Tootill 9:53 am on March 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , business, church, , , , , Kernewek, , , , , , , , ,   

    Jag har haft fullt upp! 

    It has all fallen apart a bit. I tend to do this. I tend to take on so much that I burn out and end up not finishing anything. (Sigh) The title is a Swedish phrase, which means roughly ‘I have had a full schedule’, or ‘I’ve been super-busy’! πŸ™‚

    I have picked up a dozen or more books and started them, but not finished them. In fact, I took a bunch of half-read books back to the library yesterday. I’m trying not to kick myself about the Read52 challenge. I don’t think I could catch up now, unless I get credit for good intentions!

    I’m also so far behind in the Bible in 90 Days challenge this time that I really have no hope (or intention, sorry) of catching up. I also got to the end of Job just feeling that I was getting very little out of it this time round. Last year I read through faithfully every day, and marked all the words of God in red, and anything else important (like repetition and themes) in blue, and I really loved it. I saw new things in it and I’m really glad I did it. But this time, I had already switched to listening on audio Bible by the time I got to Joshua instead of actually reading it, as I was finding it so… boring! I really don’t want to feel that way about Bible reading.

    So actually I’m juggling. I have a lot of plates to spin – being a wife and ‘mum’ with ME, homeschooling, housework, study, and trying to set up a Ministry / Business. I have never managed to find a great balance between homeschooling and housework – when the children were young, I figured that if I managed to get out of bed and the children were basically washed and fed and clothed and happy, everything else could look after itself.

    I have been wondering why I decided to take on the extra spinning plates of study and business. Maybe a psychoanalyst is called for – do I have some need to set myself up to fail? Actually, I think I’m pretty driven, perhaps I need to prove myself in some way (I’m not sure to whom though or why). But being driven and fighting ME is a pretty tough battle. Actually I have heard that there’s quite a bit of evidence that a lot of people who get ME are A-type personalities (I tried to look for a good article to link to but I couldn’t find one).

    I have never quite learned to pace myself either. I always seem to need to start something new, take on a little bit more, work a little bit harder. I help out at Scouts and Guides in a limited capacity, I teach (Sunday School, very basic Hebrew, adult Bible Study, although actually I haven’t done any classes since we moved down here as there doesn’t seem to be any interest), I’m now involved with two churches, I study (and now I ‘have’ to be studying my OU course, just about everything else looks more interesting which is another challenge! I’m even trying to learn Cornish in my ‘spare time’!)

    I constantly feel on the edge of relapse, but resting doesn’t help anyway. I figure that, if I’m going to feel desperately tired and in pain whether I rest or get on with it anyway, I might as well just get on with it. Thankfully my ME is not severe (although I have had a few bad patches, and poor husband always seems me at my worst as I’m always pretty wrecked by the end of the day). I still don’t want to accept that it is ME to be quite honest. I would much rather have something that’s easily fixable, curable. But I don’t go to the GP anymore. My current one is nicer and more helpful than previous ones, but he’s no help really. When the blood-tests always come back negative or ‘borderline’ there’s no clear direction on how to treat me. So until and unless I can’t, I keep on keeping on. I keep picking up books and starting them. I keep trying to read my Bible. I keep studying and writing and doing my little groups. The children are washed and clothed and fed and reasonably happy. That sounds like a good life to me πŸ™‚

     
  • Sharon Tootill 1:23 am on February 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , church, , , , , pain, , suffering   

    Church Questions 

    I wanted to share this post because Les asks some very worthy questions and I think his answers are good.

    http://lesfergusonjr.com/2014/02/06/church-questions/

    I also think that questioning in general – and even being angry with God while desperately wanting to believe and to love Him – is good and healthy.

    The stifling of questioning, and the lack of compassion and understanding around the issues of grief and depression are among the things that made me leave the church a decade ago; and conversely, the welcoming of questioning, and the understanding of pain and suffering (as integral to human experience in a broken world) were among the things that attracted me to Judaism.

    And now, having a connection again with the church in the form of The Salvation Army, I think that its core Mission of restoring the world to God by restoring and rescuing individuals (especially those who are so low the other churches don’t want them!) answers some of those questions for me.

     
    • KC Bob 1:37 pm on February 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      “those who are so low the other churches don’t want them”

      That is a haunting observation. Thanks for sharing.

      Like

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