The My-One-Word Challenge

The My-One-Word Challenge

Went for a walk in Ervey Woods today – my husband, our eldest and her boyfriend, our youngest and myself.

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We have gone for walks in these woods at various times over the past 20+ years – Ervey/Ness Woods contain much of our family history.

Miriam & Leah 2009
Miriam & Leah 2009

Our kids have ridden noddy cars, roller skates, scooters and bicycles in the large car park of these woods.

Leah was the only one of my four children who actually liked having her photo taken!
Leah is the only one of our four children who actually liked having her photo taken!

When the children were small we used to bring a picnic and spend hours in places like this. Sometimes our children’s friends came with us too, in our big seven seater car. Or occasionally we arranged to meet up with another family here.

A close family friend died tragically five years ago. Ervey Woods holds special memories for her family too. They even used to camp here.

The names of their youngest children are engraved in a tree – I photographed it last year.

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In 2010 they planted a tree here in their Mum’s memory after she died. We always go to visit Elizabeth’s tree when we are at Ervey.

We’ve had at least one Easter Egg hunt at Ervey. I remember on one occasion, Simon and Leah found all of the chocolate eggs and Miriam let a wail out of her and ran off at high speed. She disappeared out of sight and we had to run after her. Amazing how quickly a happy family moment can suddenly go pear shaped.

Now our trips to Ervey are bitter sweet – all of our family events are bitter sweet.

The present is always overshadowed by an awareness of WHO is missing, of whose voice can’t be heard, of whose laughter no longer rings out.

Yet, life MUST go on. New memories must be made. Hard though it is, we have to learn to appreciate what we still have.

In one of my Daily Readings recently, the writer caught my attention when she suggested that instead of making New Year’s Resolutions we should pick one word, just one word and make that our focus for the year.

“The My One Word challenge is simple: Lose the long the list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick one word. This process forces clarity by taking all of your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single thing. Your one word focuses on your character and creates a vision for your future.

It’s okay to want to be a better you—and the New Year is a natural time to start. The question is, how? My One Word replaces broken promises with a vision for real change. You are moving toward the future rather than swearing off the past.

This year, the goal is to see God work in one area of your life. And the tool is your one word.”

This almost sounded do-able.

According to the author of My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word, the Top Ten Most-Often-Picked Words are:

1. Trust

2. Patience

3. Love

4. Discipline

5. Focus

6. Faith

7. Surrender

8. Peace

9. Listen

10. Joy

I’ve been tossing this thought around in my mind since I read it, if I was to do this, what would my one word be?

I think I know – HOPE, or as Leah used to say:

Hold

On

Pain

Ends

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I don’t actually believe that the pain of grieving will EVER end but I………..

Hope that as a family we can learn how to live with our broken hearts.

Hope that I can learn to focus more on what a blessing it was to have Leah in our lives for 16 years, rather than on how devastating it’s been to watch her become ill, go through cancer treatment and die.

Hope that somehow, my life is part of God’s bigger purpose and that He can use me to be a blessing to others.

Hope that eventually, the constant ache in my heart will begin to lessen, even a little bit.

Romans 5:5 (NASB)

“and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

MY HOPE

by Paul Baloche

Nothing will change
If all the plans I make are wrong, Your love stays the same
Your light will guide me through it all, I’m hangin’ on
I’m leaning in, to You

Nothing can reach,
The end of all Your faithfulness
Your grace is with me,
Through every shadow, every test
I’m hangin’ on
I’m leaning in, to You

I don’t know where you’ll take me
But I know You’re always good
My hope is built on nothing else,
Than Your great love, Your righteousness
I will not walk another way
I trust Your heart, I trust Your name
I’m holdin’ on
I’m holdin’ on, to You

You are my rock
When storms are raging all along,
You shelter me, God
I’m safe with you on solid ground,
I’m hangin’ on
I’m leaning in, to You

I don’t know where you’ll take me
But I know You’re always good
My hope is built on nothing else,
Than Your great love, Your righteousness
I will not walk another way
I trust Your heart, I trust Your name
I’m holdin’ on
I’m holdin’ on, to You

My hope is built on nothing else,
Than Your great love, Your righteousness
I will not walk another way
I trust Your heart, I trust Your name
I’m holdin’ on
I’m holdin’ on, to You

Are You Getting There?

Are You Getting There?

In answer to those of you who ask my husband and I these questions:

“Are you getting there?”
“We don’t know where there is, but no we don’t feel like we are getting there.”

Is it getting any easier?”
“No, sadly, every day seems to bring a deeper awareness of our loss and grief.”

“How are you?”
“Struggling through our grief.”

“What’s the craic?”
“Actually in our grief, we sometimes feel as if we are cracking up.

Nevertheless, we really appreciate all of you who do make an effort to connect with us, no matter what you say or don’t say!

We realise that it’s very hard for people to know what to say to us.

This morning at church someone silently shook my hand and looked me in the eye with a facial expression that said “If I knew the words to speak to you I would say them.” Thank you, I felt cared for.

This past week started with a family get together in Belfast for the baptism of my niece’s baby. Leah was very close to her cousin and they looked very alike.

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Leah was so excited about her cousin’s pregnancy, but sadly she died before the baby was born. To get to the baptism we had to once again drive the route that we followed when we used to take Leah for her appointments at Belfast City Hospital. My husband and I found the whole day very emotional.

Thursday was the GCSE results, an exceptionally emotional day for my husband and I and for her friends as well. Studying for her GCSEs was a big part of Leah’s life. All her school work is on her desk in her bedroom.

Then – the task I had deferred all Summer – shopping for the new school uniforms. Somehow this task seemed so incredibly painful. I left it until the very last shopping day of the summer that my two remaining school aged children were both available to come with me. In previous years this was a task that Leah and I sorted out together in July.

I used to look down my nose at those “disorganised” mothers who headed out in late August to buy their children’s school uniforms!

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I barely managed to retain my composure while in the school uniform shop. I don’t think I have EVER visited it before without Leah. I just about made it back to the car before sobbing my heart out. I felt terribly sorry for my two children who had to endure this display of emotion. Even after seven months they still look very uncomfortable when I’m crying.

This past week was Holiday Bible Club at our church. Leah loved attending HBC when she was younger and more recently she loved helping with it.

Having quietly sobbed my way through the first part of the church service this morning, the sermon then really encouraged me. Rev Craig preached from Psalm 63:

Psalm 63:1 (NIV)
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
” NIV

Sometimes it’s only when we are in a desperate situation that we learn to seek God with our whole heart.

Psalm 63:8 (NIV)
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.”

Rev Craig put up a picture of a mother holding a child and said “Which is more important? The mother’s grip on the child or the child’s grip on the mother?” Of course it’s the mother’s grip on the child. We might be barely hanging on to God by our fingertips, but He’s holding tight to us.

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I know I’ve shared this song before but I listen to it often as the words really encourage me:

My Hope
By Paul Baloche

Nothing will change
If all the plans I make are wrong, Your love stays the same
Your light will guide me through it all, I’m hangin’ on
I’m leaning in, to You

Nothing can reach,
The end of all Your faithfulness
Your grace is with me,
Through every shadow, every test
I’m hangin’ on
I’m leaning in, to You

A Toothache Journey

A Toothache Journey

After two emergency trips to the Dental Hospital in Bristol in October ’13, an emergency trip to the Dental Hospital in Belfast in November ’13 & four trips to my lovely dentist here in Derry, I have lost my toothache & my fear of dentists & gained a crown.
If only heartache could be cured as easily.
I so clearly remember sitting in the waiting area of Bristol Dental Hospital for that first appointment with scalding hot tears running down my cheeks & wondering which was worse – the pain in my jaw or the pain in my heart?
I’m thankful to have a dentist who understands our journey and a God who understands even more.
This beautiful song “My Hope” sung by Kathryn Scott and Paul Baloche has been a real encouragement to me this week and the YouTube video displays some gorgeous Northern Ireland scenery.

I don’t know where you’ll take me
But I know You’re always good
My hope is built on nothing else,
Than Your great love, Your righteousness
I will not walk another way
I trust Your heart, I trust Your name
I’m holdin’ on
I’m holdin’ on, to You

You are my rock
When storms are raging all along,
You shelter me, God
I’m safe with you on solid ground,
I’m hangin’ on
I’m leaning in, to You”