What’s That in Your Hand?

What’s That in Your Hand?


I’m so excited.

I recently submitted a guest post to an American Christian website called My Big Jesus.

Today they emailed me to say that my post on their site has had 700 views and they would like me to become one of their resident writers. This means having my pic and my bio on their website and submitting two articles per month.

I don’t get paid for this – it’s voluntary.

I get to retell the story of Leah and how God has carried us through, to a wider audience.

However, I’m not only excited, I’m also terrified.

I’ve looked at the bios of their other regular contributors on this site – they are mostly professional writers and pastors and pastors’ wives. They sound so important and they make their lives sound so exciting.

I feel so ordinary and unqualified.

A few weeks ago I went to Causeway Coast Vineyard in Coleraine with a friend.

Mike Pilavachi was speaking. I’d never heard of him before but he is a co-founder of Soul Survivor and apparently he’s well known.

The theme of his message was “What’s that in your hand?

He based his message on the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand in the gospel of John 6:5-13

A large crowd of people had come to hear Jesus speak. After a while, the people were hungry, but there was nothing with which to feed them.

John 6:9 (NKJV)

There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?

The boy handed over his lunch to Jesus, who gave thanks, then multiplied it and used it to feed the huge crowd.

Mike Pilavachi’s point, was that what we have to offer to God may not seem like much, but when we place it in God’s hands, He can multiply it and use it to bring blessing to others.

This weekend marks two years since we received Leah’s awful diagnosis.

I’ve felt very down this past week and I’ve cried a lot.

To answer Mike Pilavachi’s question, what have I got in my hand?

I’ve got a story to tell, a story of a fifteen year old girl who responded to her diagnosis with the words “God has a plan for my life” and “we’ve got to see the bigger picture.

A young girl who faced death without fear, because she knew that Jesus had died on the cross for her sins and that she was heading into the outstretched arms of a loving Heavenly Father.

What if telling Leah’s story to a wider audience is part of that bigger picture?

Telling people that there is no pit so deep but that God’s love is deeper still!


Leah’s Birthday Barbecue

Leah’s Birthday Barbecue

Our Leah has a really good friend called Leah R and this year for her 14th birthday she decided to have a big barbecue and invite lots of people.
image image

She wanted the barbecue to be a celebration of our Leah’s life and she asked everyone to make a donation instead of bringing a birthday present. The money donated will be divided between three charities: Clic Sargent The Anthony Nolan Trust and the N.I. Children’s Hospice. She printed this account and handed it around at the barbecue:

Thankfully we were blessed with good weather. People young and not so young started arriving at her family home shortly after 4pm and most were left by 11pm. There was a steady trickle of people coming and going all evening and food, both savoury and sweet, was in abundance. There were many helpers, including the lovely Ferguson sisters and smiley Ben from New Zealand. There was a bouncy castle and sumo wrestler suits.


The young people played football and there was face-painting. Later in the evening the young ones toasted marshmallows and sang worship songs around the fire.


Some of us older ones got a bit chilly so we went inside and enjoyed good conversation and caught up with old friends as well as making new ones. Cups of tea and coffee were being continuously handed out while homemade cakes were passed around too.

Leah R’s parents, Owen and Lesley, constantly circulated, welcoming guests as they arrived, ensuring everyone got enough to eat and drink and that no one was left out. Approximately 120 people attended and over a thousand pounds was raised, to be divided between the three charities.

There were thank yous for everybody as they left –


When my husband and I were leaving we were given these beautiful flowers.


One of my Bible readings for today was
Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. . . . And they cried out in fear.”
Matthew 14:25-26 nkjv

It then goes on to say how the disciples were in the midst of a storm and because Jesus came to them in a way they weren’t expecting they almost didn’t recognise Him.

Grief is a storm too and sometimes the waves threaten to overwhelm me and I wonder if it really is possible to go on. I risk making the same mistake as those disciples, by not noticing how in the midst of my grief God has sent so many beautiful people to show His love to us as a family.

God’s lights in my dark night are so numerous and each one is exceedingly precious – how would we ever have survived this far without the loving support of the people He has placed in our lives?

The Memory Box

The Memory Box


Our eldest daughter Rachel left and Leah middle with their daddy, December 2012.
Our eldest daughter Rachel on the left and Leah in the middle with their daddy, December 2011

Before Leah left home in N. Ireland to go to Bristol Children’s Hospital for her bone marrow transplant, she gave personalised gifts to some of the people closest to her.

For her daddy she made a memory box.


For Christmas 2011 she had gifted him a “Daddy and daughter day out” promise.

Then they spent this day together by first going to church at the Vineyard in Coleraine.

Afterwards they had a picnic in the beautiful seaside resort of Portstewart in the Summer of 2012.


On the Monday night of the 14th July 2013 I took Leah and her boyfriend Nic and her cousin Deborah to the Youth Night at the Portstewart Convention.

When this had ended Leah informed me that they were walking down to the harbour. I was chatting to friends – nothing new there – and when I finally went looking for Leah, Nic and Deborah, they were nowhere to be found!

I tried all of their mobile phones and nobody answered. It was late at night and pitch dark. My daughter had a life threatening illness and I was supposed to be a responsible parent – I started to feel very anxious.


After what seemed like way too long, they reappeared around the coastal path, with Leah brandishing a jam jar full of sand.

She’d insisted on walking a considerable distance in the dark, until they reached the exact beach where she and her daddy had walked together the previous year.

There she filled up the jar that she had brought with her and that I had known nothing about. This jar was labelled and put into the Memory Box.


The remainder of the box contained other bits and pieces that she had bought for her daddy.


Leah left the memory box for Horace when we departed on Sunday 21st July ’13 with a note for him to not open it until he and Simon returned from Bristol on the Wednesday.

Horace was accompanying Simon to and from Bristol to have his bone marrow harvested and frozen until Leah would be ready to receive it.

Leah made a card for Simon and left a gift for him too.



The bar of whole nut chocolate now sits on my husband’s dressing table, still in it’s wrapper – too sacred to be eaten.

How precious each of these items, so lovingly chosen, now seem.