Christmas GLW Update

I sent out a GLW Family email update today and thought you might like to know how things are going with us!  To read the previous update CLICK HERE.

 

Hello Wonderful People!

 

Thank you for your support and prayers over the last year!  It has been a challenging one, but also has been filled with great blessings!

 

Since our last update, things have been interesting…

 

Due to God’s financial provision, we were able to take Smaller GLW to see a nutritionalist.  With her guidance we have started him on a gluten and dairy free diet, alongside magnesium baths and trying to reduce toxicity in his environment (mainly changing toiletries and household cleaners).  He’s been fully gluten and dairy free for the last month and we have seen a massive improvement in his stomach and headaches.  He has had very few and hasn’t needed any time off school and his challenging behaviour has become more stable, though he still struggles with managing his feelings.

 

Smallest GLW has been settling into our family really well.  He is really enjoying school and has lots of friends.  We have implemented a six month break from him seeing his mum as we believe this will give him time to establish firmer attachments in our family so that when he restarts contact with his mum (Niece GLW) in February, we are hopeful this will enable him to understand that his relationship with her has changed.  The break has really improved Smallest GLW’s security and his relationships with Teen GLW and Smaller GLW has grown from strength to strength, as has theirs with him.  Smaller GLW and Smallest GLW can now play together for a whole 30 minutes before things become difficult (we couldn’t leave them in a room alone a couple of months ago).  In his prayers at bedtime yesterday Smallest GLW prayed, “God, thank you that mummy brought me to have a new family and that I love all the people.”

 

Teen GLW has had some challenges at school which the school have dealt with very well and she is generally really happy and enjoying life.  She has taken on responsibility for doing the PA regularly at church and is hoping to be involved in helping out with the smaller children at church once a month.

 

Niece GLW chose to leave the support service in Rotherham and we have had very little contact with her in recent months.  She did randomly connect with a Christian woman on a train and attended her church, but due to her lack of communication, we’re unsure how things are going for her.

 

Mr GLW has just this week started working part time doing parcel deliveries.  It is quite low paid, but we are trusting God, that He knows what we need and is providing the right job at the right time.  It is a very flexible role which means that he can still do the majority of looking after the children and the house.

 

My MA is going well and I am learning a lot and thinking a lot.  It does require quite a lot of time, which makes paid work a challenge.  I currently have very little paid work, which is helpful in terms of study time, but isn’t great for us financially.  Yet we are sure God knows what we need and will provide.

 

Recently we have been massively blessed as people have supported us financially, I have set up a Patreon account which allows people to support my work monthly, thank you to those of you who have got involved with that!  Someone gave me £200 towards books and someone else anonymously gave us £1000, which is amazing!  Alongside this, God connected me with someone who has given £4750 towards the development of an online database for Christian women who can speak at events, I’m now crowdfunding for the remainder of the money.  So even though financially things are quite precarious, we are fully confident that God is looking after us and so grateful to those who are being generous in praying for us and/or with financially supporting us.

 

Things we would really appreciate prayer for…

  • Smallest GLW generally as he grows in security and safety, but also specifically as later this week he will be spending a day with his dad.
  • Niece GLW, that she will find ways to recover and heal and access the support she needs.
  • Smaller GLW’s ongoing diet and lifestyle changes, that his behaviour and health would continue to improve.
  • A calm and safe Christmas for us all.
  • Wisdom for us as we consider possible options for Smallest GLW’s legal status in our family, that Social Care and his parents would be supportive of any steps we take legally.
  • Mr GLW and I to have wisdom in parenting all three children and dealing sensitively with the complex dynamics between them and between us all.
  • Teen GLW and Smaller GLW’s ongoing acceptance of Smallest GLW as a sibling.
  • God’s provision as we seek to find a way to be financially stable.
  • Protection for us as we continue to seek to serve God both in our family and in our work and relationships.
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In The Dead End

Sometimes it’s in the dead ends that we learn the most.

 

This week has not been the easiest of weeks.  About six months ago Mr GLW and I felt God had called him to apply to become a police officer.  He had been a Special Constable (volunteer police officer) with the Met Police for a number of years and for the last two or three he had occasionally suggested that becoming a fulltime officer would solve various problems we kept happening upon, mostly related to our main income being my freelance work and the lack of security that gave us.

 

I’d always been very against this idea as I wondered how I would do all the stuff I’m Meant To Do, if I had to be a full time parent AND police spouse.  However, within the last year as I prayed and journeyed with God I became convinced that Mr GLW should apply, that God was in it and I felt a lot peace about it all.  I didn’t really want to be going down that road, but obedience to God takes priority, always.

 

So I began the rather painful process of accepting that my role was changing.  I’d become so used to being a freelance specialist, with the freedom to work whenever, while Mr GLW stayed at home and looked after the children.  Even when he began part-time work with a local charity a couple of years ago, I could basically work whenever and left many of the caring and household responsibilities to Mr GLW (and he was a lot better at it all and like it a lot more!).

 

I spent a lot of time praying and grappling with my changing role.  Why was I so resistant to becoming “just a mum” when my feminism insists that tasks culturally coded as women’s work are very important?  If everything I did was in obedience to God, why was it so much easier to be obedient to God when I got to do all the stuff I loved?  Even though I spend my life massively critiquing platform, why did it feel so hard giving up a career which presented opportunities to speak and write and have my voice heard?

 

The first day of the summer holidays was also Mr GLW’s first day training as a police officer.  I had spent the weeks previously frantically trying to get all my projects finished up, working long hours and being super busy.  Suddenly I became a fulltime parent in the summer holidays, with three children aged 4, 10 and 13.

 

(I should mention that just over a year ago, God called us to move my niece and her 3-year-old son halfway down the country to live with us, resulting in large upheaval in our life, which you can read about HERE.  Earlier this year it became apparent she couldn’t cope with being a parent and so we supported her to firstly get a job and then, when she couldn’t cope, we miraculously found an amazing Christian safe house for women where she could stay.  All this means that we inherited a four-year-old earlier this year, with all the challenges that brings, alongside having a marvellous ten-year-old with additional behavioural needs and an adorable thirteen-year-old with teenage rantiness.)

 

The summer holidays involved almost constant argument.  “He hit me.”  “He’s lying, I never hit him.”  “YES YOU DID.”  “Shut up arguing you two!  Mum can I go out with my friends…”  On and on and on.  There were also wonderful times.  Friends blessed us with a week’s holiday in their holiday home free of charge.  The kids enjoyed my more spontaneous parenting and things being different every day (except for Smaller GLW who likes everything to be the same every day and has a meltdown when it’s not).  Early on I found Smaller GLW wailing in his bedroom.  “Why has daddy left us all ALOOOOOOONE?” he moaned with tears rolling down his cheeks.  “He hasn’t left you alone, I’m here” I said while patting him.  He howls and informs me, “Well that’s basically the same thing.”

 

Weeks three and six were the worst.  By week six I was ready to give up.  The exhaustion.  Never having a minute to myself.  The lack of capacity to think about anything but when to load the dishwasher and put the washing out.  I’d had a weekend away with God in June and “courage” was one of the words God gave me for the year ahead.  At the time I had been mildly concerned about that.  Courage?  I’m usually quite courageous.  Challenging injustice.  Saying the things no-one else wants to (vagina, vagina, clitoris, vulva).  The idea that courage was going to be needed for the year ahead had concerned me slightly.  Week 6 of the summer holidays, enduring bickering, arguing and Never Any Silence had not been what I envisaged as The Courageous Act.  Yet it took all of my energy to keep going.  Courage is the still small voice that says “I will not lock my children in a room and run away, I will cook their dinner and tell them I love them instead.”

 

Last week was back to school and things began to improve.  I began thinking about the MA I’m starting later this month with London School of Theology (I am getting it free and don’t have a first degree so I am calling it the Miracle Masters).  Everything was becoming calmer and I had begun to really embrace my role as primary carer.  I had a system for cleaning, we’ve been doing after school beach trips because of the Global Warming induced hot weather and we’d all basically adapted to this new life.

 

Alas, this was short lived!  Mr GLW had been struggling with the training.  He’s 45 and the training is full of twenty somethings who live at home and can revise and have the headspace for remembering ALL THE LAWS.  Having lived with me for nine years, Mr GLW’s unhealthy power dynamics radar goes off rather quickly and the system and structures were hard to deal with.  He was struggling with the hours, with the lack of time to spend with the children and me.  Everything felt unmanageable.  So he began suggesting that we had a made a mistake.  Clearly God had not called us down this road.  We had got it wrong.

 

I married Mr GLW because God told me to.  I moved house twice to locations God told me to.  I have taken jobs because God told me to.  I have left jobs, because God told me to.  My life belongs to God.  Everything I do is in obedience to God.  And usually Mr GLW is on-board with that.  Not last week though.

 

He wanted to believe that if things were going wrong, it must be that we somehow misheard God, on numerous occasions, in numerous ways and through numerous circumstances.  I have dealt with many painful and horrendous things, and I am able to do that in the full assurance that God loves me, and that through Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit I can follow the path He guides me to.

 

If we are fully submitted to God and we live in full obedience to Him, when things go wrong, that doesn’t mean we heard Him wrong.  It means that things are not going how we envisaged they would.

 

Often when things go wrong, “why” is the biggest question.  If we could understand why then we could move on.  Yet why is about gaining control.  If I understand why, I can fix it, change it, move on from it.  But the book of Job suggests “why” doesn’t get us very far with God.  For Mr GLW and I, this journey has yet again taught us that it is not “why” but rather “how” that is the most important thing to ask.  “How do we get through this?”

 

Mr GLW continued to try and make the job work, but on Tuesday morning at 3.30am I found him awake, anxious and having had various nightmares.  Clearly it wasn’t working and he couldn’t cope.  So yesterday he resigned from the training.

 

I currently have hardly any freelance work.  Having not been doing much freelance stuff over the summer (because it’s hard to work when children are arguing about who did what and why and that they are the one who is definitely right) we have very little in the way of next steps for having enough money to live on.

 

I have spent six months adapting to a new life.  Psychologically and emotionally it has been painful and sacrificial.  Practically it has been exhausting and meant me fitting myself into a role I was never made for.  And now it’s all going to change again.  I’m going to go back to being a freelance Gender Justice Specialist and Mr GLW will become the stay at home parent.

 

Sometimes it’s in the dead ends we learn the most.

 

Mr GLW has tried things the way he thought they would work.  And they didn’t.  I have learned a whole lot about myself.  We have discovered that living unconventionally is our call and that is something to embrace.

 

In the last week God has spoken to me in various ways.  Listening to Biffy Clyro on Radio One the other day and one of the band said that his favourite lyric was,

“Take the pieces and build them skyward.”

In the midst of feeling broken by this whole situation, it was a glimmer of hope.

 

I’d randomly bought Stuart Townend’s album “The Journey” after hearing a song from it at a friend’s commissioning service.  While going for runs in the morning, I’ve been listening to it.  From one song came the lines,

“Not what you give, but what you keep, is what the King is counting.  O teach me Lord to walk this road, the road of simple living;  To be content with what I own and generous in giving.  And when I cling to what I have please wrest if quickly from my grasp; I’d rather lose all the things of earth to the gain the things of heaven.”

As I ran and listened, was the truth my heart held to.

 

From another song,

“It is well with my soul when the storms of winter blow, and the cares of this world take their toll.  In the heat of the day there is grace enough to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”

 

I preached a sermon on Sunday that I wrote late last year for the Sermon of the Year competition.  You can listen to it HERE.  With hindsight I see that it is a sermon I have spent my year living out (the old adage goes “be careful what you wish for” but for preachers perhaps it should be “be careful what you preach on”).  In it I said,

“Sisters and brothers, we have access to a hope that can set the world alight. Yet because of God’s grace, He allows us to contain it. He allows us to hold just enough hope to know we are saved, without forcing it to change us, to make us people of the deficit.

 

We have a hope that could set our lives and our communities ablaze, yet we are sitting too comfortably.

 

Until we are willing for God to disturb us, to take us outside of comfortable, then He won’t. And though we have a reason to hope, we have no need of it. No need of it at all.”

 

God has called us into a dead end and it’s painful and difficult.  But there is no place we’d rather be.

 

 

 

GLW Update: Answered Prayers!

I occasionally send out email updates about our family situation.  You can sign up to them HERE.  I also thought my blog and Twitter friends may like to hear how we’re doing.  If you’re not familiar with our situation, HERE’S where it all started.

 

 

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for your continued prayers for us!  We wanted to let you know about the answered prayers we have had in the last month.

Mr GLW starts his training as a Police Officer with the Met. Police on 25th July. We’re all very relieved about him getting a start date as it has take quite a while and no longer being in a state of flux has been really wonderful!

Niece GLW’s current job is only a 6 month contract (ending in August 2016). We have been looking for a new job for her and she has been accepted on a year long apprenticeship with an outdoor activity centre.  It has live-in facilities and we are really praising God for this opportunity for her and that it helps with Smallest GLW’s struggles working out where he belongs, as his mum (who is no longer doing the job of being his mum) will not be living with us.

We bought a trailer tent in May and have already had one holiday over the half term.  The holiday was extremely challenging in places, but we are excited about the possibilities the trailer tent offers.  Also, our lovely friends have gifted us some time in their holiday home in the summer holidays, which is an answer to our prayer for more time for rest and relaxation.

Teen GLW continues to be VERY excited about her baptism and is hoping to share her testimony during the service.

 

In the midst of answered prayers, we also have some challenges…

Smaller GLW is still struggling with head and stomach migraines and the challenging aspects of his behaviour seem to be increasing.  We are also beginning to consider which secondary school is right for him (he will start in September 2017).

Smallest GLW continues to struggle with us as his new family.  He can get quite sad and has quite a lot of angry feelings.

Due to Mr GLW’s new job we have some childcare complexities to work out, we are beginning to advertise for a person (or people) who may be able to do this role.

 

Things we would really appreciate prayer for:

•Smallest GLW’s heart and mind are deeply secure in how loved he is and how wonderfully and marvellously he has been made and that we have wisdom in loving and parenting him.

•Smaller GLW’s migraines stop and that we are able to get the right information if lifestyle changes need to be involved in preventing the migraines

•Teen GLW is prepared and getting ready for baptism

•Mr GLW and I have wisdom in parenting all three children and deal sensitively with the complex dynamics between them and between us all

•Teen and Smaller GLW are able to deeply understand Smallest GLW’s circumstances and grow in accepting him fully as a sibling

•For the right decision regarding the MA with London School of Theology

•For the right person (or people) to help us with childcare

•For protection.  It is spiritual powers and principalities that we are fighting and there are so many forces in opposition to what we are called to. Please intercede for us in the spiritual realms if that is your gift and call, we definitely need that!!

 

Thank you so much!

 

Love all us GLWs xxx

Our Family Update…

HELLO EVERYONE!

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!

THANK YOU!

LOVE FROM ALL US GLWS!

Life Is Changing…and I LOVE YOU ALL!

To all my lovely online friends,

Life is changing for us GLWs. After about a year of supporting my 22 year old niece and her 3 year old son from afar (they live in Yorkshire) last Thursday it became apparent that my niece and her son needed much more intensive support due to various health problems and ongoing challenging situations.

So, last Friday they came to live with us permanently.

They are both wonderful and already we have been so blessed to have them here with us. However, the reality of having two new family members means that life is changing in many and varied ways.

It’s going to take us a couple of months to practically organise everything; we need to split our living room in half to make a bedroom for my niece, we have to move their entire lives down to Essex and enable them to access the support and help needed to enable my niece get better.

We have a long road ahead of us and much of it will not be easy, but God’s Hand has been on everything so far. We shared our news via email with some friends and family yesterday and already we have been able to find a 7-seater car, been given the money to buy it and will be collecting it on Sunday evening.

Less than a week before we decided to invite them to join our family, we bought a caravan; not knowing this would become my niece’s temporary bedroom until we are able to create her a proper one. God has been faithful and so far has provided for everything we need.

In order to focus the attention needed on our newest family members, it is likely I will be blogging and tweeting less; though women’s liberation runs through the core of my being, it seems God is calling me to do that more in our home than online, at least for a little while.

As we expand our hearts and lives to make room for these precious souls that God has gifted to us, I would love you to support us in prayer. Our current prayer needs are that:

  1. Each of us manages the changes ahead and navigates the relationships and practicalities with patience and understanding.
  2. My niece recovers fully and begins to thrive, perhaps coming to know Jesus in the process…
  3. My nephew settles well.
  4. Small and Smaller GLW feel secure and that their needs are being met in the midst of these new priorities in our family.
  5. Mr GLW and I have the wisdom and discernment to make the situation work and that they maintain deep connection to God and each other within everything.
  6. God provides for our many needs.

(If you would like to sign up to get prayer updates from us, you can do that HERE.)

We also have a lot of financial needs; creating and decorating a room for my niece, supporting her in accessing some none NHS funded healthcare, transporting her possessions to our house, semi-regular meetings in Yorkshire that we need to travel to and the general financial needs of a small person and his mum. If you would like to support us financially, that would be great! Don’t feel any obligation to give as we know God will provide, but if you do feel called to give, we have set up a Go Fund Me page HERE.

Social media is amazing. I have been so blessed and grown so much through being part of both the dispersed community of faith and the wonderful women’s liberationists who have welcomed me so kindly. Some of my best friends are people I met via Twitter.  The love, friendship and faith that has grown through these online channels; God has used them to enable so much change, both in me and through the ways I have been able to gain a voice in a world that tries to silence those who say the things that I do. I’m grateful for all those who are part of my online community of faith and for those wonderful women’s liberationists who accept me, encourage me and have taught me so much.

I may be less vocal in this season, but I will never be less passionate.   And as for that all-important question I know you will be asking; in my online interactions I shall be referring to my niece as “Niece GLW” and my nephew as “Smallest GLW”.

Love to you all!

Mrs GLW