Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Garden Bird Antics #poetry

The EU Referendum has been causing me great anxiety and so I've been spending time in the garden trying to focus on the local and centre myself.  This has been a good thing to do and has led to a few poems about what was going on around me.

Bird Feeder Gossip

It's 5pm
On a summers day
Time to meet
Hear gossip of the day

We all hang out
At the feed station
Share latest news
Over our daily ration

Tweets about bats 
Latest news on cats
Down low on dogs 
Squirrel warning facts

Here together
It's one for all
But care is needed
So we don't fall ....

Into the patch
Of the local moggie 
He waits till late
Even if it's soggy

Listening in
Getting the goss
We let him keep
Thinking he's the boss 

But he's not. Oh no
He's in our power
We're up high
In our wooden towers

Whilst he can try
To bring us down
Most of the time
He leaves with a frown

So here we meet
Gossip, plan and eat
He can sit on his seat
Safely there at our feet 

RSPB Bird Feeder

Blackbird Blessings

Blackbird up there in a tree
Thank you for singing to me
Blessing me with songs so sweet
Floating down beneath your feet
I do not know
What they say
But please never
Take them away
Your tones connect me with the world
Imagery round my mind swirls
Of woods I used to walk within
Thank you for such a blessing


Friday, 24 June 2016

How should we respond to the #EURefResults today?

How do I respond
As a minister in the church
On a day like today
When my heart is full of hurt

I pray that calm will come
I know that God is here
But right now in this place
All I feel is fear

When pain is what I know
And concern is in my mind
None of us are alone
But what peace can we find?

I look to the church leaders
And read the prayers they share
But somehow it's not enough
It doesn't take away my cares

I read their public statements
"Political process in place"
But it doesn't stop this hurting
It doesn't help me face to face

Here in this community
Division has occurred
It may not be a war as such
But many are disturbed

And we have to hold that
To comfort and bring hope
I guess that's all that we can do
But how when I am hurt?

And then I finally remember
That this is who God needs
Me just as I am right now
Searching for the peace

Click here for the official statement from the Archbishops

Who's running the asylum now? #EURefResults

It is true
It seems like a nightmare
But you're awake
Yes really
The lunatics have taken over
Our country is in the hands of the mad men
And I am terrified
Anxiety souring
Peace has flown the nest
Because that was our safety net
Europe is a community
And even when we don't agree
It's a place for sharing
And debate
Where we can relate
Through difference
As much as similarity
Less about control
Than being free

Not resource hoarding
But now that is gone
We are gone
And soon will be forgotten
All those of us 
Who are seen as less
The poor and lame
The disabled and in pain
At the bottom of the pile
They don't care
To share
They don't wish
To give
What they hold
So tight
So the future's
Not bright
This is my fear
I shed a tear
For those far and near
Who now for years
Might suffer.
You may not agree
But don't shout at me
This is my blog
And my opinions can be free
It is my fear
It is my life
And that of my child
Who, with eyes wide
Left for school
Not knowing who'll
Be running the country
Now an Island alone
Not knowing what
The future outside the zone
Will bring
For me
For her
For the future
Who's running the asylum now?
And how?

Friday, 17 June 2016

What's the point in a bucket list?

A friend posted this bucket list on Facebook today and I was at a lose end so decided play along.

Been Married x
Fell in love x
Gone on a blind date x
Skipped school x
Watched someone give birth x
Watched someone die x
Been to France x
Ridden in an ambulance x
Been to America x
Been to Europe x
Been to Blackpool x
Been to Liverpool x
Been to Newcastle x
Visited Disneyland x
Visited Legoland x
Seen Grand Canyon x
Flown in a helicopter x
Been on a cruise x
Served on a jury
Danced in the rain x
Been to Manchester x
Been to Edinburgh x
Played in a band x
Sang karaoke x
Made prank phone calls x
Laughed so much you cried x
Caught a snowflake on your tongue x
Had children x
Had a pet x
Been sledging on big hill x
Been downhill skiing
Been water skiing
Rode on a motorcycle x
Traveled on a bus, train and coach x
Jumped out of a plane
Been to an outside movie x
Rode a camel x
Rode a Donkey x
Been on TV
Been in the newspaper x
Stayed in the Hospital x
Donated blood x
Gotten a piercing x
Gotten a tattoo x
Driven over 100 mph x
Been scuba diving
Lived on your own x
Rode in the back of police car x
Got a speeding ticket
Broken a bone x
Gotten stitches x
Travelled Alone x


Apparently this is a UK Bucket List and it seems I'm doing quite well.  But the thing is, I still don't get the point.

Why do I want to write a list of things to do before I kick the bucket?  And, do I really think that the things I could write down will ever be things I'd look back on with regret if I failed to tick them off?

Well no, but then again, yes.  But in a very different way.  The list would be less about things and places and more about people and love.

Don't get me wrong, I really want to go to New Zealand; but since becoming ill it's not because of the place any more but more that I'd love to be with Rachel and experience her joy of a trip.

Mind you, it might be cool to be on the TV.

Reflections on my Body as a Disabled Christian

These are my thoughts and reflections having heard PaulaGooder’s talk about her book “Resurrection: The Body and Christianity” at StPaul’s on 16/6/16 and following the #fullaccesschurch tweets from the Disability and Jesus conference on 11/6/16.

People think that everything we don’t like now about our bodies will be gone when we are resurrected; and yet we will look like we do now and be completely recognisable to our loved ones.  But there’s no evidence of this in the Bible; the gospel accounts show that the disciples didn’t recognise Jesus – therefore his body was obviously different; and yet Jesus was still able to show the holes in his hands and feet and therefore the things that disabled Him stayed in his resurrected life.  What a challenge.  Our disabled elements of our body will be a part of us but in a different form when we are resurrected.  A perishable body will be buried (planted like a seed) and a body of power will be resurrected (as a fresh shoot of a plant).  And this shoot will keep growing and building and gaining power as our resurrected lives continue; we will be gaining abilities and losing our disabilities.

This terrifies me; in fact I had to stop reading the twitter stream from #fullaccesschurch when someone tweeted that we will still have to use a wheelchair in heaven.  But I am reminded that it is so much less about our bodies and so much more about the context in which we find ourselves.  It is not our bodies which are disabled in this world so much as the world which disables us by not accommodating us; and the Bible tells us that the resurrection world will be a place which enables us as we are and ensures that we can fulfil our callings in all their fullness as God has planned.

Two main chains of thought come from this.
1.      If I will be resurrected as a disabled person with MS, which by the end of my life is likely to be pretty disabled; then I will be resurrected with a broken body and yet will be full of power.  I cannot imagine how it will be; but what I am hearing is that I will leave a world where my disability and disease is reducing me; to a resurrected life where it is the basis for my life which will be healed and empowered and rejuvenated.  If this is possible then I start to think about who I am; which is a body but which is not JUST the body but also the mind and soul and heart.  My mind and soul and heart are not being reduced or disabled, in fact I think they are being rejuvenated through the suffering of my body.  I am able to be more reflective, more understanding, more able to empathise and more able to think without distraction.  This of course may not have been the case in generations gone by when being disabled would completely limit a person; but thanks to technology and society and my own stubbornness and the blessings of Jesus I am able to continue to live a life of relationship and thought and exploration and ministry.
2.      If I will be resurrected blind and unable to walk and possible extremely weak then it strikes me that I will be resurrected exactly how I was born in my human life.  That’s a wow moment.  It’s a point of blessing in so many ways.  We are all born blind and weak and unable to walk and we learn and build and are nurtured and grow.  Suddenly I feel hope and joy with the idea that my resurrected life with God will be a repeat of the life I have already lived but with a parent who is all about making me the entire person He has called and always knew I would become.  And because this is a resurrected life this will be beyond all limits; it will be able to peak at some high point which I have never yet experienced.  How amazing to be able to realise that.

I guess what is holding central for me is that our resurrection bodies will be resolutions to our problems in this life in ways we can’t start to understand.  We may have the attributes which we consider disabling in our world, but they will not disable us.

Another point from both Paula’s talk and the conference which has stayed with me is that how we live in our body affects who we are.  In 1 Corinthians 12 (repeated in Romans 12) Paul explains identity and relationships through bodies because these things all happen as and in bodies.  What we do with our bodies affects who we are; and therefore what anyone else does to enable or disable us affects who we are.  I wonder how Paul would feel about the modern world which disables so many of us so well?  And what would he think of the body of the church which disables us?  What would he think of a church which has no ramps or automatic doors or low lecterns or has endless series of steps up to altars and pulpits which cannot be accessed by wheelchair users; or no hymn books and service sheets or assistance for the partially sighted; or hearing systems which never work properly for the deaf or worship which terrifies some members whose brains are wired differently?  It’s a challenge isn’t it!  What would Paul think about a church which disables people?  What does God think?

Then there’s the other big thing which most of us who are disabled Christians have encountered; the need to be healed of our disability in order to meet the needs of those who offer it.  I believe in healing, and have received healing of my emotions and heart as I get used to living with MS and especially with blindness.  But I do not expect that I will be healed physically; it hasn’t happened yet and I can’t help but think that God sees a plan in this for me and that I am called to a ministry which benefits from my disability.  And yet Jesus healed people; all over the place he healed.  Paula Gooder talks about the fact that Jesus’ healing miracles are about integration of the person into their bodies in order to integrate into their communities.  Jesus’ healing was predominantly about healing relationship through the body, rather than about healing the body alone.  For example; the woman at the well was healed not so much for the physical aspects as to enable her to join back with her community.   Jesus would never imply that bodies cannot be in relationship until they are healed; but He was focused on healing relationships by healing the bodies.

I wonder what Jesus would think of those Christians and Churches who require us to pray more to be healed in order to be the best we can be to meet their need for us to be able?  I wonder whether Jesus would be more interested in Christians and Churches healing relationships throughout society than healing the individuals who make the able bodied feel uncomfortable; because I am sure that is a large part of what’s going on.  The things that makes our bodies is an integration of heart and soul and body and mind and spirit; a beautiful body working together for and in God.  No matter who we are and what our bodies are like we are integrated in ourselves and with God; and in this integrated way we are in relationship with the Body of Christ.  It’s all about relationship, rather than about the form of individual bodies.  We are all one body and must be inclusive completely.

Heavy Heart Full of Love #prayer #poetry #mission #Orlando #JoCoxMP

Such a week of awful news
TV full of doom and gloom
Fifty dead
Shot in a club
MP shot
Doing her job
Added to the wars non stop
And inequality that drops
The weakest in the darkest place
Without water
Without a home
All across the world they roam
And no one wants to take them in
They are blamed for everything
What has our world become
I do not know what can be done
But surely 
One thing we should see
Is that it's real for you and me
All this grief
All this loss
My heavy heart
Removes life's gloss
Today I want to shut it off
To close the door
Switch off the phone
Makes me want to be alone
And cry
And rant
And shout so loud
God of mine
Why do you allow?
And yet I know
That my dear God
Is crying too
Through all this loss
Seeing our world
Feeling our pain
He sees the evil
Repeating again
He must despair
At our lack of care
But when I start to feel it here
It's overwhelming
What can I do?
I'm just one person
As are you
But together joined with many more
Surely we can do, what's been done before
And make a change
Improve our world
To heal the sick
And warm the cold
To feed the hungry
And save the damned
We can't give up
We must make a stand
To shout out loud
Put down the hate
Love each other
Gay or straight
Enemy, neighbour
Near or far
Evil can not win this war
Love must open every door
So together stand
Together say
We'll help each other
Come what may
Through prayer and action
Donation, petition
THIS is our God given mission
With heavy heart I impart this vision
Can you make the same decision?

These images include:
Vigil for the LGBTQ victims in Orlando
Jo Cox MP campaigning for a stop to violence
Refugees in Greece taken by Amnesty International
Palestinian children queuing for water after Israel cuts their supply

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Disability Accessibility #poetry #campaign #disability

I am pretty lucky
In our local community
There are crossings aplenty
And fairly good accessibility

But there is one street
Cambered towards the road
I have to use it sometimes
And take it very very slow

I have asked my council
If anything can be done
Since it's the route to the doctors
"Could you move?" is their return

But I'm not really complaining
Because I know it's worse elsewhere
There are impossible places
None on wheels can go near there

When we went up North
On our family holiday
I really was quite shocked
How bad it is for many

Of course in older towns
There is historicity
But still it makes me sad
That those places I can't be

But there's really no excuse
For anything that's new
Yet it can be impossible
Bet it's invisible to you

A badly parked car
Overhanging a walkway
Or parked on the pavement
Means it completely blocks my way

What are my choices?
Take the risk, go on the road?
That's fine if I'm with others
But on my own, there I can't go

Even a tiny step
Of a few inches or more
At the entrance to a shop
Means I can't go in that store

Or a really small doorway
Into a disabled loo
Makes it inaccessible
Yet it won't be clear to you

And what about a manual door
How do I open it and move through?
Let alone two sets of doors
Would a different layout kill you?

This is about my wheels
My scooter or wheelchair
Add to that my sight
And it really is a mare

Can't see the obstacles
Have to assume it's all OK
Until it really isn't
And then I'm in the way

And mostly the public's great
But every now and then
Someone tuts and huffs
Because I'm delaying them

And it really hurts
Because I'm trying the best I can
So if you see someone struggling
Could you offer to lend a hand?

Of course you might be rejected
That is an individual's choice
But you never know just who
Will be relieved to hear your voice

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Yesterday (praying it away)

This came to me in a few minutes as I was waking up this morning.

The background is that yesterday was a very rough day missing Rachel, who is away in France with school for a week; and feeling extremely overloaded with lots going on at church.  But yesterday evening was mums and more home group where we're following Brian Maclaren's "We make the road by walking" and we were looking at chapter 44 all about self care.  I opened up about my feelings and received amazing prayers and prayerful advice.  I pray that this blesses many others who read this as it has blessed me.

Yesterday (praying it away)
To be sung to "Yesterday" by The Beatles

Yesterday all my troubles got on top of me
I was tempted just to hide away
But I asked for help, yesterday

Suddenly, I am not alone in my stress
There are great women praying for me
And it really helped, yesterday

Why, I always forget, to ask for help, I just don't know
When I say something's wrong, people pray and I'm okay, ay, ay, ay

Yesterday, prayers took the fear from in the way
Now I don't need a place to hide away
Oh I believe in praying it away

So when you're overwhelmed, just reach out and ask for prayer
Do not second guess yourself, just ask a friend to pray away, ay, ay, ay

Yesterday, prayers took the fear from in my way
They can do the same for you today
Oh I believe in praying it away


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Can't really see my food any more

It struck me today, when I was eating on my own, that I can't really see my food any more. 

I don't mean that my eye sight had suddenly got worse, but just that I noticed it in a new way today.  And it occurred to me that I now seek out food which is varied in colour and texture (which is healthy so not one of the worst side effects) so that I can at least try to differentiate between the elements with my remaining vision and cutlery.

I feel my food more than look for it; I try to get a variation on my fork, rather than select specific items; and so far it's mostly been OK. 

Interestingly I've become much less interested in meat; it doesn't look appealing really, where as fish smells lovely and is easy to eat.  And  add in the fact that it's often difficult to cut, which means I need someone else to do it for me because of pain and/or weakness in my hands and it's appeal drops through the floor.

I don't think I've ever really looked at my food very much, which is no doubt related to my eating disorder; and I've concentrated on conversations at meal times, but today I was eating on my own and so it was obvious.

But it also became clear that I'm less influenced by the sight of food and that I'm eating less, I'm actually not interested in it.  I used to get a drink and see food in the kitchen and feel hunger and need to eat, well that's no longer possible and so I'm eating less.

I'm not sure what this says really, but it's interesting to me that my emotional hunger has all been sight led.

Anyway, that was my thinking at lunch today, interesting changes happening.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Servant Queen Poem #poetry #HMQueen #Christian #Prayer

Last month I was thrilled to discover that the book "The Servant Queen and the King she serves" was available in large print, braille and audio CD from Torch Trust and ordered a copy of the largest print and the audio CD.  The book, written by Mark Green & Catherine Butcher and published by HOPE in partnership with Bible Society and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, takes a closer look at the Queen’s personal faith in Jesus and the impact it’s had on her long life of service to the nation.

I've listened to the book several times since it arrived and have been surprised how moved I have been by the Queen's trust in Jesus, prayer life and calling to her role as Queen by God.  It has inspired me and you won't be surprised to hear that this took the form of poetry.

Queen Elizabeth II
Is ninety years old this year
She has always been a Christian
She keeps Jesus ever near

Her most favourite poem
Speaks of trusting entirely in God
Reaching out into the darkness
Seeing His light filling the world

In the book written for her birthday
The Queen talks about Jesus her King
The King she serves and follows
And holds highest above everything

She talks about valuing prayers
Said for her round the world every day
Feeling God's love and inspiration
And receiving blessings in many ways

The Queen's seen a world of changes
Of disruption and trouble in lives
But through it all she is never discouraged
Because she knows that God's love survives

Children's Prayers for HM The Queen's 90th Birthday #church #sundayschool #accessible

Logo in honour of Her Majesty the Queen's 90th birthday designed by Lucas Salinger, aged 10, from Potten End C of E Primary School in Hertfordshire.

The liturgical commission has published approved prayers which Her Majesty The Queen has approved for the celebration of her 90th Birthday later this year.  Two prayers (or Collects) have been published in traditional and modern forms as can be found on the Church of England Website.  The Church of England has also produced resources for street parties, birthday celebrations and school assemblies as found at the Church Care Website.

But I couldn't help but think there was a distinct lack of prayers to be used in our services with children; or indeed for those of us running Sunday School sessions for the Queen's Birthday.  So I rewrote the approved prayers in a more accessible format; and here they are for you if you'd like to use them.

Father God
You have been with our Queen Elizabeth every day of her life for 90 years, thank you.
Today we are celebrating her birthday around the world, please give us all your love.
Please help us bring peace and happiness in the world as Jesus taught us.

Heavenly Father
Thank you for keeping the Queen safe all the way to her 90th birthday.
Thank you for being with her as she has worked for you and for all of us.
Please keep loving her and helping her every day.
And please fill us with love and peace across the world as Jesus taught us.

God who gives us everything we need, thank you for the Queen and her long life.
Bless our food,
Bless our homes,
Bless our community,
Bless all of us celebrating together.
Please show us the people who need love and care in our community so that we can help them.

Loving God
Give our Queen strength and show her where you want her to work.
Bless our food,
Bless all of us celebrating together.
Please show us where you want us to do your work.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Lord's Prayer Colouring Sheets #messychurch #VI #adultcolouring

I have created some Lord's Prayer colouring sheets for our PPP Messy Church on Sunday.  I know there are loads all over the internet but these are designed specifically for those of any age with visual impairments and for the youngest members of our church family.  If you find them useful then feel free to use them.

I will be creating more colouring sheets of bible verses over the coming weeks because I can't find any which I can see well enough to colour myself.  Turns out it's as relaxing to create them as to colour them.

This is an even more simplified version for those who prefer it.

Folding Electric Wheelchair BPDP 10J Review

A month ago my folding electric wheelchair arrived from Better Products for Disabled People.  I invested my back dated Personal Independence Payment into this purchase after finally agreeing with Occupational Therapists that an electric wheelchair would broaden my life beyond what I could enjoy with my mobility scooter.

I tried lots of different electric wheelchairs before deciding to ask for a trial of the BPDP10J but all of them had one major drawback, they wouldn't fit in our car, let alone in a smaller car.  My goal for the electric wheelchair was to get out and about more with friends in their cars and for work using taxis; but the conventional power chair market had nothing which could help with this.  It was the folding aspect of the BPDP10J which appealed to me and made it something worth trying.

I emailed BPDJ and spoke to Shaun who said he had a customer who would happily bring his wheelchair to me to try.  Within a few days Alan and his wonderful wife arrived at my house with his BPDP10J wheelchair, unloaded it, opened it and invited me to have a spin.  I couldn't believe how easy it was for Alan to get the wheelchair out of his car and was amazed by the simple way it opened up ready for use.  I had a slow, and then quicker, spin around the close outside my home and was sold almost straight away.  My only concern was that the footplate was small and meant I couldn't get my legs comfortable, which I knew would become a major issue with my MS pain.  Alan said that BPDP were looking at making larger footplates and I should speak to Shaun, which I did who said he would make it happen for me, no problem at all.

I can not overestimate the benefit of speaking to someone like Alan who is also disabled and seeing the chair in action; or the positivity of Shaun at BPDP in every conversation we ever had and the way he completely understood what my issues were and what I needed.  I was concerned that I would be getting the first of the newly designed models, but was reassured that they would make sure the chair would be altered to meet my needs.  I was safe in their hands.

The worst part of the whole experience from enquiry to trial to order to delivery was the wait to get the 10J model; it seemed to take forever to arrive from China and make it through customs.  But it was worth the wait, which actually was less than 3 weeks, to have the first of the newest specification models with the larger footplate; it is wonderful.

Over the last 3 weeks I have tested the BPDP10J all over the place.  I started around the house but quickly decided I needed a larger space to practice my turning skills, especially my reversing.  I think this was as much to do with my hand eye coordination, extremely minimal eye sight and confidence than anything.

We decided that the best place to go would be our local supermarket and I put a warning on Facebook for everyone so that they knew the yellow peril (Alan named us thus) was on the move.  I know the store well and have taken my mobility scooter there quite a few times and therefore this was a good place to compare and contrast as well as try out the BPDP10J maneuverability.

Mike and I were both really impressed with how little space it needed in the boot of the car.  It could probably fit behind a front seat if no one was in the back, but we haven't tried that out.  In the supermarket I was shocked by how much better it could get round obstacles and corners, it literally turns on a penny if I get my hand eye coordination sorted.  It can get through much smaller spaces and is much smoother as well as a much more comfortable position, leaving me less tired and therefore more able to cope with the other MS symptoms.  The yellow colour did nothing to help people see me, but I've decided that that's as much to do with being lower and disabled people being invisible than anything else.

I took the 10J to a garden centre, a local coffee shop, to a restaurant, to the theatre, to a scouting meeting and to church over the next few days and the only problems I encountered were that it doesn't cope so well offroad and that everyone wants a go!!

Then this past week we have been on holiday in Lancashire.  We were staying in a beautiful cottage in the countryside and we took both the mobility scooter and the BPDP10J.  The plan was to use the mobility scooter around the farm and anywhere with offroad type elements; and use the wheelchair everywhere else.  Over the week I took it all over Blackpool with great success along the promenade, across tram tracks, down the piers, through arcades and shops and into restaurants;

around Manchester city centre and across to the old UMIST campus;

to a number of different restaurants where it was always the most comfortable seat in the place; and I even got down to the lamb pens on the farm which I really didn't expect to manage.

So, in case you haven't guessed, my verdict is that the BPDP10J is brilliant.  It fits in pretty much any car, it goes on for miles and miles, it's really comfortable and easy to use and it looks cool too.  I won't use it for a walk in the woods, but pretty much everywhere else it is my wheels of choice.

I have received no remediation for this review, but Better Products for Disabled People have made a £100 donation to the MS Trust in my name.

Below I have provided a video of the BPDP10J in action along with some of the specifications.

BPDP10J Spec:
Folding size 590×325×780mm
Unfolding size 975×590×935mm.
Loading capacity of 180 kg.
It can reach to 6km/h with a driving range of 25 km.  
10J can climb up to 12°.
It weighs 24 kg (without batteries) and 27 kg (with batteries).
It has a seat width-depth-and height of 480mmX430mmX460mm.

Sing the Lord's Prayer with toddlers

I love a challenge especially ones combining poetry, singing and kids.  This challenge was to adapt a nursery rhyme to the words of The Lord's Prayer and was started a few years ago here.  But as I was preparing for our Messy Church on Sunday I revisited what I'd created and made a few alterations.  Rachel and I have tested it to destruction and we both think it works really well now.

Let me present .....

The Lord's Prayer sung to the tune of Incy Wincy Spider.

1. Our Father in heaven
2. hallowed be your name
3. Your commands be done  
4. on earth just as in heaven
5. Give us our bread today
6 and Forgive us all our sins
7. as we forgive all of those
8. who might sin against us …

1. Please keep us true and
2. Not doing it all wrong
3. deliver us from evil
4. Within us and without
5. For the kingdom, the power 
6. and the glory all are yours
7. Now and for ever
8. Amen Amen Amen