It’s been over 6 months since I wrote THIS BLOG about how our family was changing and expanding.
My niece and her son have been living with us for the last six months and it’s been challenging and wonderful in about equal measure! Our house and hearts have expanded to make room for these two precious people God has called us to love in this all encompassing way.
Within months we created a bedroom for my niece by splitting our living room in two. This only happened thanks to the kind and generous donations of family members, friends, our church and the time and skills given by friends to put a false wall up.
In December we finally bought a 6 seater car called Betty. She’s old and rickety, but we are so blessed to have her!
Niece GLW has done amazingly. When she first arrived she was really unwell, depressed and not really functioning. She now volunteers at a charity shop and with a drop in for vulnerable adults. She’s doing English and Maths courses, regularly attends the local Park Run, occasionally attending a local running club. She is beginning to apply for paid jobs. She is healthy, happy and doing well and thanks to Christians Against Poverty she should be debt free within the next few months! Amongst the positives, Niece GLW has also been dealing with the pain of her foster sister committing suicide in December; the grief and loss as well as dealing with the complexities of foster family relationships.
Her son, Smallest GLW is now nearly 4 and has been in nursery 3 days a week since October and he’s doing really well. Having arrived at our house not potty trained and a really fussy eater, with quite difficult behaviour, he is now fully toilet trained, eats whatever he’s given for dinner and behaves almost like any healthy nearly four year old. He has moved into the older area at nursery and can already write the first letter of his name. He’s currently very enthusiastic about tree blossom and regularly explains to people “God made tree blossom.”
Our children have been amazing. Smaller GLW (who is 10) has various social and emotional challenges because he was born premature. He has coped remarkably well with his whole life changing and having to share his bedroom with a 3 year old. He has been kind, generous and although he occasionally explodes at either Niece GLW or Smallest GLW, this experience has perhaps been very helpful in enabling him to expand his understanding and social and emotional skills. Alongside the challenges and joys of our family, in the last few months he has been diagnosed with migraines, including abdominal migraines, so that has been difficult and we are trying to find ways to reduce the impact of this on his life and education.
In recent weeks we have had a shift around of room space and this has meant that all three children and Niece GLW have their own rooms, much to the delight of Smallest and Smaller GLW.
Small GLW (who is almost 13!) has been really loving and caring towards both Niece GLW and Smallest GLW. She has never begrudged the way our lives have shifted and changed dramatically because of our enlarged family. We’ve had quite a few challenges with her education and the reality of raising a tweenager in the digital age. However, in recent weeks we have seen her mature in many ways and we are so proud of her.
It has been an interesting season for me and Mr GLW! The first few months of Niece GLW and Smallest GLW living with us were one of the hardest times of our 9 year marriage. Yet, God has been faithful throughout the challenges and we have come out the other side and are grateful for all we have learned and grown into through those rather dark days.
Mr GLW has been working four days a week for a local charity, but we have felt it right for him to apply to become a Police Officer. He is currently a Special Constable. The application process is currently underway and we will know by June if he has been successful. In this in-between season we are trusting that God has got us regardless of what happens next.
In the first four months they were with us, we cared for Smallest GLW full time in order to give Niece GLW time and space to recover. In January, we began the process of supporting her to become Smallest GLW’s mum full time. We had a clear plan to gradually reintegrate them, and although Niece GLW did amazingly and worked really hard, it became apparent that we still need to be involved significantly in parenting duties for Smallest GLW, probably for his whole childhood. As a result of this, we have a new plan in place in which we care for Smallest GLW full-time Monday to Friday and Niece GLW has him at the weekends. Though this has been a difficult decision, we’re really proud of Niece GLW and the many changes she has made and continues to make in her life.
This arrangement, though definitely the right way forward, has brought about challenges for us. I have worked freelance for the last seven years, and this has often been done full time, with Mr GLW being either a full time stay at home parent, or with us both working part time. Through a whole lot of prayer and trust in God’s purposes and plan for us, I have decided to reduce the amount of work I take on or seek, in order to be able to become the primary carer for all three children. I will still do some work, but especially if/when Mr GLW becomes a Police Officer, I feel deeply convicted that my energy and time should be focussed on these three small and medium sized human becomings.
There have been many identity challenges in laying down large aspects of what I do and in the process a section from the Methodist Covenant prayer has come to mind:
“I am no longer my own but Yours.
Put me to what You will,
Rank me with whom You will;
Put me to doing, put me to suffering;
Let me be employed for You or laid aside for You,
Exalted for You or brought low for You.
Let me be full, let me be empty,
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.“
God spoke to me recently about being light. That we should shine with light and that our load should be light, and though this has been a challenging and testing time, God continues to lighten the road and lighten our load, and that is a glorious and blessed place to be.
If you would like to pray for us, we would really value your prayers! Alongside anything you specifically feel led to pray about, please pray that…
- If it is God’s will, Mr GLW is successful in his police application
- Smallest GLW continues to grow in security and the knowledge that he is loved
- Smaller GLW is able to express his negative emotions in constructive ways and that he is healed from the migraines
- Small GLW continues to grow in maturity and integrity
- I embrace the new way of life God has got for me
- Our car Betty has a long and inexpensive life!
Our plan with Niece GLW is that she is able to work towards:
- Full time employment
- Learn to drive
- Living independently
Please pray for her as we all work towards that!
LOVE FROM ALL US GLWS!