A Letter to the USA on Women’s Healthcare provision…

Dear USA,

I can’t help but notice the chat from some bloggers like Rachel and Matt who live in your country about this news story, and I wanted to write to you about it.  I’m not American. But I am a woman. I believe in God. I try to follow the teachings of Jesus and have done since I was 18 years old. Not that it should require me to be a Christian for my viewpoint to matter.

I also have a degree in Health Sciences where I specialised my research and reading into women’s health at one of the universities that has been at the forefront of abortion and maternity care research. Since 2006 I have trained and used counselling skills to support women and men faced with unwanted pregnancies and since 2008, supported women who have struggled to come to terms with terminating pregnancies and with loss through miscarriage. I’ve also spent a great deal of my years as a youth worker talking to teenagers about sexual health and relationships.

So I feel that when it comes to commenting on a debate about whether or not employer’s should have a say in what insurance companies provide for their employees in terms of contraceptive drugs…I have something to contribute.

Your health insurance system.

USA your healthcare system sickens me, because you have made healthcare a business. I was shocked to hear that someone I know got charged $50 for eyedrops to cure her conjunctivitis (not to mention extra just for the visit to a doctor to give her the prescription). I’ve had conjunctivitis as an adult, and have gone to the pharmacy to have my eye diagnosed and given eyedrops. It cost me less than £8 and it was totally outside the NHS.

The fact is the numbers you are giving for what these things cost are not so much about what they cost but what your health care providers and pharmaceutical companies decide to charge – so they can make a profit.

Personally, I don’t think it’s right that employers EVER have a say about what we spend our wages on. And definitely not what health insurance can provide.

Your over-medicalisation of pregnancy and childbirth and the insane costs you have for antenatal care prevent many women from having care they need and is what makes you have the worst maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates in the Western World. The fact is that the decision you allowed to be made this week will probably mean that for many women abortion may be the only viable option available to them. That’s not pro-life or pro-choice. It’s you asserting your power in an oppressive way by creating a situation of increased vulnerability.

Hobby Lobby hypocrisy

I think Hobby Lobby needs to take a good long look at the ethics of their company. They say they’re ‘Christians’. Well, look at the bible, look at what Jesus said and taught. Where are they investing their money? It seems to me like they have one set of standards to suit themselves (and make profits) and another for when it comes to looking after their employees.

Afforable healthcare is needed. I wish you had something like the NHS in your country USA, but you don’t. It’s time to look at what’s important, what is ethical and separate the church from the state.

Why women have abortions

The majority of women I’ve met who have terminated a pregnancy have done so because they have realised that the father is a total arsehole and they do not wish to be tied trying to parent with them for the rest of their lives and/or due to finances. Childcare costs alone are insane. One of my friends only made £50 per month working full-time after she’d paid for child care costs for just one child.

Not to mention the fear that they won’t get support from their employers or universities, or the judgment they will face from others. Some have abortions for medical reasons. I’ve met women who have children already and have faced the choice of terminating an early pregnancy so they can have treatment for cancer or continue with the pregnancy, have pregnancy hormones help growth of tumours so cancer becomes terminal and leave all their children without a mother. I’ve also met women for whom continuing with pregnancy would mean facing possibility of permanent paralysis. I’ve met women who have mental illnesses where staying pregnant means coming off medication which they are being treated with.

Contraceptive drugs are not just used for contraception.

Just the same as some drugs mainly known for treating cancers can be used for a variety of other things, contraceptive drugs aren’t just used for contraception. Not that it is anyone’s business but I am not sexually active and have not been since I was a teenager. I don’t plan on ever becoming sexually active unless I get married. That’s my personal choice. However, I have been on many contraceptive drugs since I was 15 years old. Why? Because unfortunately for me having a menstrual cycle has made me very ill to the point where I would be throwing up, fainting or screaming in pain which my doctor suspects is due to a disease called Endometriosis. I went through a time as a teenager where I was getting anaemic because my menstrual cycle was only 3 weeks long so I was bleeding about 14-20 days of the month. They put me on the combined contraceptive pill to try and put me on a normal cycle. Sadly for me this triggered migraines so I had to stop taking the pill. The contraceptive pill is something many women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome will be given to try and get them into a normal cycle (although in their case it is usually because they aren’t having periods for months on end). I went on painkillers, I went on drugs which tried to prevent heavy bleeding. I often had side effects from these drugs, and in the end they didn’t help me. To be able to do anything I would have to take paracetamol and aspirin (the only painkillers I didn’t get side effects from) all the time and wear heat patches under my clothes. A few times I took a progesterone only pill called Norethisterone to delay my menstrual cycle (or attempt to) so I could sing and dance at events and productions or even go on holiday. But the hormones turned me into a bit of a crazy person that couldn’t hold things without dropping them and cried at well…everything. Eventually the only choice I had before trying surgery was to go on a contraceptive drug called Depo Provera. It gets injected into my hip/buttock every 12 weeks by a nurse. This stops me having a menstrual cycle at all. It has come with the consequence of weight gain but it has meant that for the last 5 years I’ve been able to go to work, lead worship at youth events without covering my back and abdomen in sticky patches and not end up in A&E because I’ve been found passed out from pain by someone who didn’t know that this was ‘normal’. It’s also been a long time since I had concussion from cracking my head off a bathroom sink or wall while simultaneously wretching and passing out from pain. Over five years in fact.

I also have other female friends who went on contraceptive drugs to help with acne too. And no, it didn’t make them jump into bed with the first teenage boy they saw at a party because the treatment they were using was also a contraceptive.

It makes me fearful USA that one day God might lead me to live in your country. The idea that perhaps my employer might prevent me from getting medical treatment because it is marketed as a contraceptive drug terrifies me. Plus the idea that if I get cancer I would have the financial stress of medical costs not covered by insurance. Or that if by some miracle I did get pregnant you wouldn’t allow me to give birth naturally or trying to add extra 3-D ultrasound scans to my ‘bill’ for doing my bit to keep the human race going.

Please, please USA do your research before you label, make generalisations and decisions that could stop your female employees from getting treatment they need or making  a choice about their health so they don’t end up in a situation where they need to consider a termination. Ask before you judge. And don’t assume that just because you’re lucky enough to have a family that would help you care for all the children that end up in YOUR uterus, every other women is just as lucky. Or that they have the extra money for your insane costs for healthcare. Or paying for their future children’s college education.

Sincerely,

Laura Anne

Saying Goodbye…

After having a termination, I went through a period that I now realise was grief. It was something I didn’t really expect and because (I think) of the stigma and polarising ethical debate on terminating pregnancies no one really spoke to me about it. It made for a lot of surrealness to go through a process where no one spoke to you. It was like they spoke around you and what you were going through. Like we were playing a make-believe game of hospital.

Everyone who knew was either wanting to pretend that this would all be fine or wanting to help me be ok with it. But I think the real issue was that nobody knew how to talk about it.

I’ve since discovered that a similar problem exists with other forms of pregnancy and child loss. Miscarriage grief tends to go on in private when it happens early on, or is secretly whispered amongst all but a few. Miscarriage & still birth later in pregnancy is an isolating experience where people are afraid to say anything to you in case it upsets you, or to ask you if they don’t know what has happened. Or assume that you don’t want to talk about it because then you can forget about it.

Everyone is different.

Some people do not wish to think about their miscarriages as babies. They see it practically as nature’s way of stopping something because it isn’t meant to be. For others, they want to acknowledge each pregnancy as the beginning of life for their children. It can help to name their child so they have something to name their loss and therefore be able to grieve and move on.

One of the things I’ve learned through my study of sociology at university, and through my work in grief support and counselling is the role rituals have to play in expressing grief and moving on. Memorials, acts of remembrance, actions of grief can take all sorts of shapes and forms. I often support my clients in choosing some kind of memorial or ritual to acknowledge their loss and it is so often doing this that releases them from the burden of guilt or shame they’ve carried associate with loss. Doing it can be tough but after they have the change in them is very evident.

Some have chosen to have charm bracelets – a charm for each loss. Others have gone to a special place to release a balloon – sometimes with a letter to their child attached. I know people who have planted trees in remembrance. Some have held a small service with a close friend or partner or family members who know about the loss and lit a candle together.

At the end of this month, I’m travelling to York to attend a Saying Goodbye‘ memorial service. Andy & Zoe Clark-Coates have lost 5 children and their experiences have led to them establishing a memorial services in cathedrals across the UK where people who have been affected by loss during or shortly after pregnancy can come to acknowledge and grieve their loss(es). There is one in Edinburgh the week before, on Saturday 22nd September, 3 p.m. in St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral (please note this is in the West End/Haymarket area on Palmerston Place NOT the one in the city centre next to John Lewis!).

My main reason for going is to see what it’s like – it could help some of my clients in the future. But I’ll also be using the opportunity to remember Sophie, even though I have already said ‘goodbye’.

I know some of my readers have lost through miscarriage, still birth and termination. So I want you to know that Saying Goodbye is around and it might be something you want to do as well. You can find out more details of the events on facebook.

To Cairngorm or not to Cairngorm…?

This weekend I’m supposed to be going to a young adults retreat in the Cairngorms with some folks from my church. I’d kinda forgotten that it was this weekend with things being so busy (and I’d forgotten to put it in my diary). I’m nervous about it for several reasons.

Firstly, I’m not a huge fan of church weekends away. Secondly, I don’t know the other people going particularly well. Thirdly, I have no kitchen making it difficult to prepare for a weekend where I will have virtually no control over what I can eat. Fourthly, I’m worried we could get snowed in. Lastly, the last time I was at the place we were staying was on a Geography revision weekend – a few days before I started my Higher exams.

It was at this centre where I was hanging out a window with my friend’s phone trying to get reception so I could chat to my boyfriend. It was on my last ever day of high school we left for our weekend, and the last ‘hurrah’ to say goodbye to folks I’d shared 5 years with. It was that weekend I prayed I wouldn’t get my period because I didn’t want to be dealing with being ill while we were traipsing up mountains and through forests looking at the power of glaciation. It was during this weekend when I started to feel nauseous. It was that weekend I thought it was strange my period never came and relief was laced with traces of uneasiness that I tried to ignore.

It’s not exactly a place I’ve ever wanted to return to.

At the same time I wonder if it’s a chance to do something I wanted to do last June in the NW Highlands.

Positive thoughts and prayers will be muchly appreciated – for whatever I decide to do this weekend. In Edinburgh or the Cairngorms.

Sophie the Girl Guide

A few months ago, I was helping a friend out by doing a little babysitting and ended up staying longer than planned so she could continue to get some studying done. :) Due to a fussy teething baby, I ended up taking their daughter down to  Rainbows. As we walked and skipped down the road singing ‘Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum‘ and ‘What shall we do with a drunken sailor‘ (I should point out that my friend’s daughter was dressed as a pink pirate for the Rainbows Hallowe’en party, hence the choice of songs) we passed parents who nodded and smiled at me as we got nearer the hall.

It occurred to me that they might not realise I was not her mother, and then I realised that I look (and am) old enough to be her Mum.

It was one of those ‘Oh my word, I feel old’ and ‘Beam me up to Neverland, I don’t want to grow up!‘ moments.

Later, I reflected that if things had been different I might have been taking my own daughter to a hallowe’en party at Brownies. I reckon with my background in guiding that Sophie would have be one too! With some more mental arithmetic I realised that I’m old enough to be the mother of some of my Guides as well.

Today my daughter might have been 10 years old, and she would likely have been leaving Brownies to go up to Guides this term. I’m pretty sure with her DNA we would be starting to deal with a lot of hormones kicking in as we entered the ‘pre-teen’ years and I would be talking about puberty, sex and relationships with her. Not to mention bras. And having to buy new clothes to cope with the growth spurts. Slamming doors. Melodrama. Tears.

It’s funny to think that I’d be ahead of all my friends on the parenting front, as this year a lot of my friends have started families or are talking about starting families. And I would have been through it before them. Crazy.

I think this may be the first year on the ‘Birthday anniversary’ that I’m thinking ‘thank God I’m not a parent!‘ as I’d be entering into probably the toughest phase of parenthood – the 10-16 years!

And I expect that tonight there would have a sleepover. Or to give it a more apt name: an ‘awakeover’.

I have no idea if you have awakeovers in heaven, perhaps you don’t even need sleep in heaven, so it’s one giant awakeover? I don’t know, and really I have no need to know (though I am curious).

The one thing I do know is that it’s very strange to think that I might have been watching my kid turn 10 today. 10.

Yes, that’s right. TEN.

Somebody pass the anti-wrinkle cream…

16th January always makes me smile, because I know that Sophie has left a legacy…

16th January 2008 – my first time running a sex education class on dealing with unplanned pregnancy to a group of fifth years (the year I was in when I got pregnant).

16th January 2009 – my first appointment with my post abortion client who I supported through a recovery programme.

16th January 2010 – the first day of my first time running a pregnancy crisis counselling course.

I have no idea what this day will bring, but I do know that this coming weekend we’ll be running the first pregnancy loss support training course in Edinburgh since Sarah & I became managers. Sarah’s head honcho for this course, but I’ll get to do a couple of the training sessions which I’m really looking forward to. The resources available to help people grieve after having a termination have improved so much over the last couple of years, and I’m really excited about that.

Sharing hope & Sophie

Thank you to those of you who were praying, thinking positive thoughts and have contacted me to ask how the women’s conference went last weekend.

The answer: It went well. Completely beyond many of my expectations.

Phew.

I had to follow Heather, and let me tell you she set the bar high. She shared from her heart about prayer and talking to a God who loves us, cares about us…but also challenged us on the importance of interceding for and forgiving others.

Then it was my turn.

For some weird reason I started by sharing about my name. I really believe names matter. I hadn’t planned to do that, but for whatever bizarre reason it was where I began. I shared about David and his response to losing his son and how it tells of a hope of returning to the ones that died before us and seeing them again. I shared quotes from 2 ladies that have inspired me greatly – Angie Smith & Sarah Williams – their thoughts and struggle with grief after losing their children. And of the hope of the new heaven and earth (at this point I remember getting a little overexcited about what that might be like and how with all the freaky living creatures from Revelation 4 & 5 it was going to be ‘mental’). And I shared about my fears that I couldn’t be a Christian because of having had an abortion, and about how I had named my unborn child Sophie. And how I sometimes wonder if I was wrong about her being a girl and that when I meet her in heaven she might be like ‘Mum? Seriously? SOPHIE?! Why did you call me Sophie?!!

Afterwards there was much hugging. I was asked if I would stay to anoint people with oil and pray with them.

I did that for almost 2 hours.

And as I did, some women shared their stories with me. They too had lost children and grandchildren through miscarriage and termination.

The moment that will remain with me was a woman who told me about her own abortion and  whispering to me as I anointed her hands with oil, that after hearing about Sophie, she felt she could now name her own unborn child and do something to remember and honour him/her.

I almost started bawling.

Mostly because I was so thankful that sharing about Sophie had made a difference by giving women permission to grieve.

Thank you to all the ladies at Liberton Northfield Church for making me feel so welcome and giving me the opportunity to speak. :)

The Women’s Conference

Sorry for the interruption in the middle of the blog party! I thought I had already told about the date of the conference I was asked to speak at etc, but apparently I didn’t (apologies).

This is a women’s conference on Prayer & Healing.

Date: Saturday 24th September

Time: 9.30 a.m.- 1 p.m. (lunch included)

Location: Liberton Northfield Parish Church, Gilmerton Road, Edinburgh

Speakers: Heather Holdsworth & Laura Anne Mackay

Cost: £5

I’ll be speaking on prayer and healing after pregnancy loss. Though I have spoken at medical conferences about the work we do and training people who are supporting people in crisis pregnancy or after pregnancy loss, I’ve never spoken at an event like this. I really don’t know what to expect, and very nervous as neither my national partner or my local partner will be there so I’m going to be all on my own for this one.

Let’s compare: having a mole removed vs. a foetus removed

Tonight had a conversation with a GP who was asking me more about the campaign and talks going on regarding counselling and how ‘informed’ consent to terminations really is. I found this post I had written a couple of months ago that I never published on my blog in the end, and thought it was topical…so…here it is.I’ve just finished doing some training in pregnancy crisis counselling with a group of women. Over the last few months we’ve together grappling with the controversy that surrounds sex education, sexual health, pregnancy, adoption, abortion and all the other issues that relate to these topics that can bring out some very strong emotions and polarising opinions.

I’m very open about my own experience with the people I work with, because I know I appreciate it when people share with me their experiences of life that I haven’t personally experienced to help me imagine, understand and empathise better with people.

This year my own story of abortion has come up a lot more than usual, and I’ve been asked a lot of questions about it that I’m not usually asked. Like why I kept it a secret from my family, what my boyfriend’s parents thought about the whole thing, how doctors treated me, did I get counselled adequately?

I actually had a fabulous GP who took the time to hear my reasoning, challenge me to whether I’d considered other options and was very considerate in taking my wishes to not have further appointments until I had finished all my Higher exams. Now, this meant that I’d cause difficulty in showing that doctors ‘met their targets’ but she did it anyway. And I’m sincerely grateful. She also very kindly wrote a letter in case I needed to appeal when my exam results came through but again, took consideration at my desire for discretion in not actually specifying that I was pregnant or planning on terminating the pregnancy once my exams were finished.

Cue my next appointment – the one at the hospital 2 weeks later. I was left to wait for hours. I did not get scanned (in fact to my knowledge no one confirmed my pregnancy). One of the nurses treated me with great disdain. A doctor called me stupid and did not explain anything. He just barked orders and carried out his examination without even explaining what he was doing, what the nurses were doing or why. Or what would happen at the next again appointment – the day of my abortion.

I thankfully was at a different hospital (a week later) for the actual procedure, and the nurses were compassionate and treated me like a human being. The doctor I saw that day didn’t, but she was one person amongst a bunch of angels as far as I was concerned! Plus I was drugged up to the nines anyway. I had no idea what was coming and was terrified & completely unprepared as a result.

It didn’t really hit home that how I was treated on that second appointment (or by the doctor on the day of my abortion) was completely shocking and against protocol and guidelines until a good few years later. While in Australia, a mole on my abdomen blackened and scabbed literally overnight and gave me quite a fright when I discovered it at Brisbane Airport. When I returned home, I saw my GP in Aberdeen who said that it looked a little suspicious and needed to be removed and biopsied.

I got an appointment at a minor surgery clinic based in a local health centre with a GP who was also a surgeon. He was a jolly man, and took me into his office very cheerfully. He sat me down, explained exactly what he was going to do (even drawing a diagram of what the incision would look like, how the stitches worked) and even asked me if he thought he should do four or five stitches! He went through every single risk factor (the main one being infection) despite it being a very low risk procedure being that it was just a local anaesthetic. He then told me how I should treat the wound, how long to keep the dressing on etc etc.

It wasn’t until I walked out and was taking off the dressing a week later that it hit me…this is what it should have been like when I had the abortion.

No one explained or made sure I fully understood every step of what would happen, what could happen and what to watch out for after. They’d already put me on diazepam when a doctor asked whether I definitely wanted to go through with the procedure, and when I said ‘No, not really, but I have to‘  she just scribbled something on a chart and walked away. And the procedure I went through a decade ago had more risk factors (particularly given that I was put under general anaesthetic) than the little mole being cut out my stomach!

That is what I want to see change the most in this whole thing. I hate to think that others will be sent in blind like I was, but I know it still happens.

And it’s not ok.

Answering a reader’s question

I got asked a question by a blog reader, and thought it would be better answered in a post. I’m willing to bet that Lesley is not the only person that has read my blog who has wondered this…

“I was wondering if you ever experience hostility or other negativity from people who have had a natural loss of pregnancy ie miscarriage or still-birth if they know that you made the choice to terminate your own pregnancy? How do/would you deal with those kinds of encounters?”

- Lesley

The answer to the first question is a definite No.

I have spoken in the past about how one of my friends thought that I wasn’t affected by my abortion until I started going to church, because the people there had told me what I had chosen was wrong. Actually, I had kept the whole thing a secret from my friends there – I was struggling long before meeting my Jesus following friends, and a fear was that I wouldn’t be accepted by them if they knew. When it came tumbling out, my friend was shocked I thought that and showed me bible verses confirming that my beliefs that you couldn’t be a Christian if you’d had an abortion were a complete load of crap.

I have several friends who have experienced miscarriage. Some of them have experienced multiple miscarriages. They have never once expressed negativity or hostility towards me. I think perhaps because I openly acknowledge that I lost my first child in June 2001, and therefore can empathise with the depth of their grief that others very easily dismiss or diminish.

Several of these friends (and others like me who have medical conditions that are likely to affect their ability to conceive & give birth to a child) have expressed anger and frustration directed in general of women & men who have had terminations – particularly when they hear of people making that choice to end multiple pregnancies. I can totally understand that. How frustrating it must be to see people being blessed in the way you so desire who don’t want it.

How do I deal with those encounters? I listen. I let them express all that anger, upset and frustration because quite frankly I think it’s better out than in, and empathise with it.

A number of friends have talked to me about the work I do, their thoughts about it. Some of the women who work in centres have experienced miscarriage and stillbirth. Because of their experience, they can understand not only the clients who they support through grief after miscarriage, but also the clients struggling after having an abortion.

How would I deal with an encounter if it was aimed at me? Well, I could never say for sure until I’ve been in that circumstance. I always say to the people I’m training in pregnancy crisis counselling: “It’s very easy to say what you think you would do but it can be a whole other story when you’re actually in that situation”. But I think I’d let them have it out. Let them shout and express all they are thinking and feeling. If they got it all out and had calmed down, I hope I’d be able to gently explain why I made the decision I did 10 years ago, how it affected me, and why I understand why they’d be angry at the choice I made and express my sorrow at their loss and the injustice of it all.

I feel at this point I should refer back to the poem I posted earlier this year. Gentleness is key when people are grieving, and when it comes to losing a child – no matter whether they were a 5 week ‘embryo’ or 5 years old – there is a grief that continues as you experience the loss of what they might have been. If you go on living life after loss, you’ll get triggers that cause you pangs of refreshed pain. Seeing the birth date on the calendar, watching kids go off to their first day at school, walking past the hospital where it all happened…be aware of that. Be gentle as those times come.

I hope that answers your question Lesley.

Thank you for having the courage to ask it.

:)

Trusting God

It’s no surprise that after an intense and encouraging weekend with my lovely City Church family, that the week started in a weird way.

Somehow in my mind I had managed to organise my week forgetting key elements that make this week different to my routine weeks.

But add to that the news that my friends’ baby had been rushed to the local children’s hospital and was in an isolation room? Forget it. I found it so tough to concentrate on tasks today. My mind and heart were pure and simple with my friends.

I find it difficult to trust God with the people I care about. I don’t like being helpless, I don’t like it when I can’t fix things and go in their place when they face challenges.

But trust is what I have to do. Have faith that God does listen to our prayers. Trust that God will bring justice. Trust that God will bring people through and out of their pain.

This weekend has also brought out a lot of ‘Sophie-related’ stuff back to the forefront of my mind. One of the speakers spoke about her experience of stillbirth, and how grief didn’t come until she had named their little girl (I can relate!). In brings me great comfort to know that she too thinks of her children in heaven. There was the abortion conference where my old consultant who freaked when she found out about my beliefs and basically refused to treat me was one of the main speakers. The only one out of all these Gynaecology specialists to speak about the emotional side of termination (excuse me while I lift my jaw from the floor…). Not to mention reading a book in my search for a better understanding of pregnancy loss. The book, written by a Psychotherapist from the USA is the first book on pregnancy loss that has resonated so strongly with my own experience of both STOP (that’s medic speak for ‘Suction Termination of Pregnancy’) and being told of my possible infertility.

I’ve actually been pulling away from counselling for the moment, purely because I recognise that my head is pretty out of synch just now. Partly Inter:act, partly the unsettledness of not having a safe place to call home, partly delving into an area of pregnancy loss that brings a lot of emotions in me, partly due to the ‘winter factor’.

And the fact that I am very aware that next year it will be 10 years. Combine with the very weird fact that on 16th January 2011 (what should have been Sophie’s 9th birthday), I’ll be almost exactly the same age my Mum was when she gave birth to me.

But I know God. And since I started working in the pregnancy crisis centres, he has brought such special moments on the 16th January every single year so far. I hold faith that something special will happen next year too, because if I know anything, it is that my God is a gracious God. :)

More lessons in leadership

This leadership thing is tough.

For those of you who hopped over to Shelley’s blog last week to read my guest post (thank you to all of you who left me a comment, I really appreciate every single comment I get on any post I write) you might realise that I have a fair bit of insecurity regarding my current status in this area!

It has not been an easy ride.

I’m battling the whispers and memories of negative words spoken over me. Why is that you always remember the bad stuff? My friend Tam talked about this recently, and I can only echo my agreement with all she said in her post that day. The power of word is huge.

These battle scars are not ones that can be seen. And it is so easy for old wounds to be reopened.

Something that deeply concerns me is the lack of support and the unwillingness of organisations to open their doors to pregnancy crisis support, sex and relationships education and post abortion & miscarriage recovery. People seem to be scared of what I do. It seems to make them uncomfortable.

There is a huge generational gap in our organisation, and as cancer seems to attack (quite literally in some cases) I worry that with death or retirement our work is going to die too. And it is still so needed.

Something I’m trying to encourage the folks in leadership of centres across the country is making sure they have pastoral support, a team of encouragers and prayer warriors and to be training up the next generation.

I’m making that my own goal for this year.

Lead by example.

I want people to learn how to do my job – because if this year has taught me anything, it’s that even though I’m ‘only’ 26, I don’t know how long I have here. I need to be replacable! If I’m Moses, I need a Joshua, and if I’m Paul, I need a Timothy… :)

The one thing I have very little control over is financial support, pastoral support, encouragers and prayer warriors. About 99% of this form of support I receive through cyberspace. Lovely, but not ideal. I’m so thankful it has been there though. I don’t think I’d have got this far otherwise.

The nervousness of ‘shocking’ people. As I spoke to the group in front of me in the Highlands on Monday night, a few eyebrows were raised, some expressions stony…but eventually there were smiles (phew!). But the stigma and fear of being part of this kind of ministry seems to remain.

In the meantime, we end up having to turn away people needing our help because of the lack of resources.

I’m not sure if that makes me sad, angry or just decreases my faith….or maybe a combo of all of the above!