Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Welcome to a time of thoughts and reflections. If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that I am a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) who tries to be her authentic self in an attempt to stay real and not present a false impression.

First on the agenda today is an apology for the preponderance of negativity that has infiltrated these pages of late. I wish it hadn't been so. In fact, I would give anything for it to have been otherwise.

Recently I have been stuck in a groove where the needle keeps playing on one lone track - a plaintive melody of despondency and discouragement. Before long, I may have found despair and depression trailing me as well. These things tend to hang together.

Part of the problem is our need for continual adjustment to the world around us and the circumstances we may find ourselves in. I have been wrongly overly focused on my pain, weakness, debility (another of those awful 'd' words) and so on. 

The onset of SAD hasn't helped matters much. Light - give me light! And the clocks have gone back an hour in the UK too - and the days get shorter and darker ...etc...groan...you get the picture.

Is it still all right to moan a bit if that's how we feel? It can make us feel ashamed and guilty. Aren't Christians meant to have a joyous, happy, prosperous life after all? Or so they say. But that's only part of the whole story. Life is rarely as we might wish it to be or even anticipate.

Perhaps other women reading this will nod in sympathetic agreement that we tend to think life would be better IF ONLY.... we were - prettier, thinner, sexier, cleverer, healthier, better at all sorts of things ___ fill in the blank.

I spent many of my early years wishing things were different than they actually were. In fact, so isolated and dislocated did I feel from my family at times that I secretly wished I'd been adopted and my Real Parents would come back to get me.. .one day. My twin sister was - and still is - the main person  in my birth family that I felt 'at home' with in any way.

I longed to be accepted, understood, affirmed and appreciated - Just for Being Me. Instead, I felt lost and lonely and soon became my own worst critic.

If others didn't seem to think much of me, then why should I think much of myself?
The poem below (written many years ago when youthful hopes held sway) is an example of how I felt then.


Sitting here
eyes downcast
on the virgin page,
blind thoughts 
through my mind.
Wish I could write..
wish I could do
a thousand things.
Tight concentration - 
muzzy head,
no functioning of expectant hand;
eyes stray from the sheet of
Nothingness - 
catching the eyes 
in a magnetic hold
of that Somebody Else...
Wish I could love.

Even now I can find myself wistfully gazing into someone else's life and wishing mine was like theirs. I read a lot of tweets and blogs because I am genuinely fascinated by people's worlds, words and opinions. Yet it can have a downside if I let it.

The danger lies in making comparisons when we really have little idea at all of what their lives are truly like - beyond what they choose to reveal, of course. I may yearn to look, think, act like, or experience the apparent richness of life which others appear to be having, rather than acknowledge that mine is mainly one of limitation, pain, sickness and challenge and has been that way for many years.

God knew what He was doing though when He purposefully and lovingly created each one of us as unique and special to Him and that's how He makes us feel once we are in relationship with Him.

While I might wish I was able to write more positively, wittily or eloquently and live more freely and fully than I am able, I am learning to accept that this thoughtful, poetic, often serious and reflective person that I am now has grown out of who God deliberately made and intended me to be and is a fruit of all that I have experienced - both good and bad.

So this is me:
  • A survivor of childhood abuse and mental heath problems
  • Chronically sick - yet active in my mind
  • Mostly housebound - but not earthbound
  • Living a limited life - with an unlimited appetite for life
  • A 'work in progress' - sharing my imperfections
  • Devoted to God - and eager to make Him known
  • Writing from the heart - with particular empathy for the hurting
For we all have our own individual story to tell and nobody else can tell it quite like we can from our unique perspective.

This is my tiny cross-stitch contribution to life's rich tapestry. If my words resonate with just one person then it will make them worth the telling.

More thoughts on growing as a believer in Christ and developing as God intended are coming up in future posts. Meanwhile, I leave you with this quote:

"You cannot control the length of your life,
but you can control its width and depth.
You can't control the contour of your countenance,
but you can control its expression.
You can't control the other person's opportunities,
but you can grasp your own.....
Why worry about the things you cannot control?
Get busy controlling things that depend on you." ~ Myron J. Taylor

Friday, 26 October 2012

Reaching out a hand

Today I want to share with you how much a book has influenced me in ways I couldn't have imagined.

Everything we read exerts an influence on us, for good or ill, and leaves us changed - albeit imperceptibly.

Books certainly have the ability to take us into 'Another world'

Particular books stay with us and never seem to want to leave. Their savour and flavour linger on long after the last page has been read.

The book with the biggest influence on my life is the Bible as it has been literally life-changing and transforming for me and it is an inexhaustible treasure to those who seek to mine its depths.

After reading  'Wrecked' by Jeff Goins  -  a heart-rending account of his own personal journey to be compassionate and a call to others to heed the cry in their own hearts - I had a great challenge to my own idea of compassion in action. 

If you haven't read it yet then I urge you to do so if you are not afraid to have your preconceptions challenged about how to care for those in need. It certainly moved and affected me greatly.

Reading by its very nature can be a solitary pursuit but this book encourages us to action, to get out there and make a difference in the lives of others.

Nothing beats face-to-face contact and getting to know people as they really are. Indeed, deep down, we have a need to know and be known like that by those who we trust.

We all need love and acceptance and to learn how to give that to those with whom we connect closely.

But what about those who we don't know yet, those whose lives are lived in isolation from ours and whose needs are greater than we may imagine - can we give to them too? It is sometimes easier to be compassionate towards strangers as it can help us feel good about ourselves and may have less emotional complications too.

The art of compassion is to be merciful and caring toward others - to reach out a helping hand.

We cannot all be the ones who 'Go' but we can learn to live a lifestyle of compassion. Then we can come to the point where we ask God to 'break our hearts for what breaks Yours' as depicted in the Casting Crown song 'Jesus, Friend of Sinners' below.

"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop" ~ Mother Teresa
 As usual, when deeply moved by something, I have turned my thoughts into a poem about heeding the call to be compassionate. I hope it will stir you too. 

Further reflections and suggestions about living a lifestyle of compassion will follow in a future post, as I am only scratching the surface here by opening up this topic.

'Reaching out a hand'

Tossing coins from our pockets
shelling notes out from our wallets
or donating via a form;
Yet we can remain
strangely unaffected
by the desperate 
and forlorn.

From Indifference set me free.
I want to hear
I want to feel
I want to know
I want to see
I want to care.
Lord, break my heart 
with what breaks Yours.

Let me be Undone
Unable to stay the same
Unable to turn away
My own world torn apart
as I drink the cup -
of suffering before me
and open up my heart.

Encourage me to follow
in Your footsteps of Love
No matter where they lead
No matter what the cost,
To be wrecked inside
by the detritus of lives
I'd previously ignored - 
To seek to help the lost.

A prayer:

Dear Father,
We often feel so impotent in the face of suffering.
Please show each one of us what we can do to help others.
Fill us with your love and compassion
as we strive to follow the example of Jesus,
to be His hands and feet
to the needy, poor and hurting in our midst.
May our hearts become softened 
by Your Spirit
and willing to be obedient 
to Your leading and guiding
as You call us to 
reach out a hand
to those whom You 
love and died to save.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Me and my shadow


Hope your week is going according to plan. I find very little does in my world. 

For instance, this blog entry was going to be a time for sharing autumnal thoughts - a nice, light, poetic break from the rather heavy issues I seem to have been covering recently.

Then something intruded on my thoughts and plans.

An unwelcome shadow cast itself over my week

And that shadow came from me. It was:

A painful jolt
Emotionally challenging
Begging to be noticed
A blast from the past
Impossible to ignore

So what could I do except try to write about it?

Well, maybe...

Read the bible
Speak to someone
Turn the thoughts into words -  a poem perhaps
Believe me, I have tried them all and found a degree of release and help in each. Now I am sharing some of my story  here in the hope that someone can relate to it and be helped too.

Emotional pain, like any other, requires a trigger. All it takes is: A sight, A sound, A smell, A remembrance. Once triggered, it pops up genie-like to seek instruction.

And begs the question: Does it serve us or do we serve it?

For many years I have wrestled with painful issues from my past - a dysfunctional family, childhood abuse, complete mental health breakdown and other losses along the way.

I know that events from the past can cast a long shadow and are never that far away

When they surface it hits me with a sharp pang of remembrance. They seemed dead and buried. Counselling and therapy had their natural end. Closure was secured. Healing had come. Or so I thought. My life has moved on - hasn't it?

Yet scars remain and may always do so to some extent, even when the wounds heal over.
You cannot see them on the surface but those who know me best are aware they are there. 

I am free from the severity of their wounding, though still vulnerable to attacks that come from nowhere and leave me feeling wretched and drained, surprised all over again at the vehemence of the feelings that ensue.

Most of the time I can live heedless of their presence, with my memories-  like those of most - tinged with pleasure and nostalgia instead of anxiety, fear and pain.

I am only offering a tiny glimpse of my shadow self here - a peek behind the curtains to the inner sanctum. In time I hope to have the courage to share my story further if that is what I need to do. Sometimes that feels like a step too far. Can't I just draw the curtain, bolt the door and let it return to the recesses of my mind?

The genie may refuse to go back in the bottle though and make me its slave instead of letting me be the master.

The main lesson I have learnt as a Christian through my years of emotional, spiritual and physical pain is that I am on a continual healing journey towards change, transformation, restoration and renewal.

Today, I seek to connect with those who are hurting. Another day I will share more of my story with emphasis on the way God is bringing His light, hope, help and healing to bear on my life.

 "Blessings alone do not open our eyes. Indeed, blessings by themselves tend to close our eyes. We do not come to know Him in the blessing, but in the breaking" ~ Chip Brogden

 The poem below speaks of this shadow side infiltrating my mind.


You remain
like a blot on the landscape
A festering wound
beneath the surface.
Your presence lingers
threatens and devours.
I seek freedom
at any price
as you scratch
ink-stained etchings
on my mind.
Purple scars pooling
drowning out sense and sight.
Shadowy remnants 
loom as substance
filling and spilling
leaking through tears
resistant to 
brushing away.
Engulfing fingers
pointing, accusing
as they strangle
the fragile hope
I had gained.

How do you deal with shadows from the past?

What helps or hinders that process?

I welcome your comments.

Friday, 5 October 2012

I wanted to..but

How is your day going? I hope it is going well. This has been a week of challenge for me. I have been brought (rather uncomfortably) face to face with several of my weaknesses. 

Not only do I have an ongoing daily battle with my body when it fails to do all I would like it to, but I can also have some emotional wars going on at the same time - frequently caused by the frustration of living with constant pain and weakness and the stress it induces. I will spare you the gory details.

I like to escape for a bit by connecting through social media. Its addictive charm can weave a comforting spell over me for a while and lull me into a false sense of security. Oh look - a reply, a message, a new follower!

Until I see how energy-sapping and dangerous it can potentially be.

Our sense of worth should not depend on who reads our messages, replies, follows, affirms or ignores us that day. Otherwise we are always going to be prone to the shifting tides of opinion and casual interaction and likely to be steered off balance by seemingly being ignored and rejected at times.

So much in life - even the good things - can distract and detract from the best God has planned.

After reading the challenging post by Tanya Marlow  today (yes, on social media again) my own thoughts were thrown into disarray as I thought about God's Father heart of love and realised how the desire to be loved and accepted never goes away, no matter how much we actually receive those things from others.

Human love is a wonderful thing to experience but it's also likely to be subject to change, inconsistent, unsatisfactory, unfaithful, weak and insubstantial - no matter how hard we may work at it. Our own backgrounds, family experiences, insecurities and inadequacies can hold us back from fully giving and receiving love.

We still have to trust others to be faithful and true and trust ourselves to love similarly

The poem that follows (written some time ago but still applicable here) highlights the way some of us may perceive ourselves, particularly when wanting to be seen in our best light by the person whose opinion we value most. 

It  highlights the need to reach out, knowing our imperfections, and feeling we can never measure up to the expectations of others - or indeed our own.

So it is good to know that as we step out in faith to relate to God we can be reassured that He knows all our faults and failings, loves us anyway (but too much to leave us unchanged) and has provided all the security we'll ever need in life through knowing Him

'I wanted to..but'

I wanted to present to you
a lover -
undefiled and whole
with flesh like grass
inviting inspection,
pure and eager
for your reaching arms.

I wanted to present to you
a mind
unclotted by the mud-pied 
clogginess of doubt
free from fettered cares - 
a pliant, strong,
unwaveringly clever partner
to your own.

I wanted to present to you
a heart,
a soul's yearning sigh
so full and undivided
caught up in 
the meshes of your love
and pulsating 
in full response -
only harmony.

I wanted to present to you
but sadly lacked 
in any.
And so I gave
with weary recognition -

Monday, 1 October 2012


Today's focus is on labels.
Now, just in case you think you may have inadvertently stumbled onto a sartorially savvy fashionista site by mistake - and are hastily checking your clothing/bags/items in general for their worthiness or otherwise - let me hasten to reassure you it's not those sort of labels I have in mind.

Though society is, indeed, always trying to pigeon-hole us in terms of what we wear, or by our appearance, actions, words and deeds. It can become very wearying trying to figure out just what we might be representing by such things.

Perhaps it's easier by far to opt out and try not to reveal our tastes, interests or desires?

After all, who wants to be held up to potential public scrutiny or ridicule?

When I joined Twitter I hesitated for a bit over my 'profile'. How do you sum up the essence of yourself in a few choice words? An impossible task, or so it seemed.

Unlike the labels pictured above, our 'labels' do not give 100% information about who we are

Believe it or not, it was especially difficult to admit to being an M.E sufferer - mainly because I have tried for many years not to let the fact that I have M.E define who I am. It was already a creeping, invasive leach on my energy and strength - a sapper of stamina and stealer of all career hopes and dreams. 

Why should I allow it to steal my identity as well? But now, I am glad I was persuaded to add it to the picture because it has opened a door for expressing the side of me as someone who has Chronic Illness and is living and thriving despite and (more bizarrely perhaps) because of it.

Twenty years of life cannot be ignored or swept away - sharing is more profitable than hiding

In having M.E I am well placed to describe its affects, discuss its limitations, sympathise and empathise with other sufferers - and 'trace the rainbow through the rain' in terms of coping with it. This perspective is, sadly, far from unique. 

But, although there are certain shared cardinal symptoms, each person's journey is different and the experience of living with and dealing with it will be their own.

In my poetry and in this blog I am endeavouring to share myself - warts and all - with the aim to connect, enlighten,  inform and hopefully reveal the unexpected fruit of creativity that being virtually housebound has unleashed in me -  and which I now unleash on you, 'Dear Reader' (or 'Accidental Tourist' here perhaps - and very welcome all the same!) Oops, I'm at it too. Labelling you already - sorry.

If I was being pigeon-holed and put into a box by others then I would want it to be like this picture

Don't we all deserve to be handled in this manner?

That is not to say we consider ourselves too delicate, weak or fragile to be given due consideration or respect. Being spoken to or treated condescendingly is never a good thing. It's the 'handle with care' aspect that is applicable to us all in terms of being non-judgemental and accepting of one another.

Yet so many of us have been given labels we neither want nor deserve or we pin them on ourselves to explain to others what we feel we are or what we have done

Looking back at my own 'profile' a few months down the line I wonder if it still fits me? Well, I am still a wife, mother, ME sufferer, avid reader (energy and time allowing), poet, blogger, communicator and full-time follower of Jesus. All present and correct - even if the boundaries between the various roles and interests are blurred at times.

Yet the full essence of who I am is not caught in a few words, any more than is true for you

Some days various facets of my life and personality demand priority.

In an effort to respect this (and avoid the label of 'predictable') I am spreading out my interests.

So you may see my tweets or click to read this blog and find just the poet in residence.

Another time it will be the communicator, deep thinker and reflector.

A person keen to share her spiritual journey.

Then again you may find the M.E sufferer touching base with you.

Perhaps the encourager or exhorter will appear.

Or the woman with a sense of fun and humour

It may be a mixture of them all on any given day.

Whatever it may be, I am still being true to myself and will be encouraging you to keep it real too.

Hopefully I will have got you thinking. There will be more on this topic to come.

Perhaps you are fighting to get rid of a 'label' - self-imposed or otherwise - or really want to gain a new one?

Please feel free to share your thoughts here