Answering the FAQs of the moment…

Hi Everyone,

Since the charity I work for broke the news about the closure I’ve been inundated with e-mails asking if I’m ok, how sorry they are, how angry they are (in some cases) and what I’m going to do next. It’s really lovely to know that so many people care, but also overwhelming and I haven’t managed to get through all those messages to be able to reply to each one individually as I want to.

I know many of my friends read this blog so I’ll answer some of the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

It’s not a question, but usually the first thing people say is ‘OMG! I’m so sorry. :( ‘ Yes. I’m sorry too. It’s really sad, and it honestly feels like a death in the family. We are as a team grieving and with that comes the stress, the dread of telling people, and our heads not being quite fully screwed on (like on Monday, my colleague passed the phone to me and I answered “Hello, I’m Laura Anne, can I ask who I am phoning to…oh wait, no. I mean speaking to” thankfully the person on the other end of the phone laughed with me! And my colleagues who overheard were giggling too.)

I do also get why some are feeling anger, especially when they know how much the charity I worked for has helped so many people and still very much needed. But for reasons I won’t go into here, I think it’s right that it is ending. I just hope that something else provides for the need.

Why don’t you start your own charity? It has crossed my mind, but I’m also very aware of how exhausted I am from the battles that I’ve faced working for this one. It is hard work, it requires long term financial support and also I think I need time to get used to the idea that my workplace won’t be there when I leave. I never imagined leaving without handing my work over to someone. I can see myself possibly starting a charity similar to the one I’ve worked for these last 7 years in the future, but I don’t think the time is right to do it this summer!

Are you ok? I’m not going to lie and say that this process is easy and fun. It is not. But I do have peace that there is a reason for this, and there are opportunities that are going to come from this chapter of my life coming to a close. There are a few things in the back of my mind, well, one in particular that I’ll not mention here at the moment as it’s just an idea and I don’t know whether it’s possible that it could happen. I’m waiting for some direction from the universe for that!*

*If by some chance a random thought pops into your head that you think you need to share with me, then no matter how ‘out there’ it may seem, do share it. If I think it’s totally unrelated I’ll just tell you. After all, I’m the girl who told her friends that they needed to go find a blue camper van when the only one for sale seemed to be green. It turned out the green camper van was actually  blue.

What am I going to do? Well there is still work to do in my job before this month ends and my notice period has ended. I have 3 more Spanish classes to go at Edinburgh uni. There are two campfires to plan for and badges to be awarded. I have some gymnastics tickets that will be used this July. And my friend has just booked us tickets for Shakespeare for Breakfast on one of the first days at the Fringe because we enjoyed it so much last year. There is a lot to look forward to. I’m hoping that when my last day at work arrives it is going to give me time to skype with my friend to brainstorm about the children’s book we are hoping to write together. And I’ve applied for a few jobs that I think I’d be a good fit for (let’s hope the prospective employers think so too!) In between I’m trying to make time to do internet searches for jobs and apply for them, and willing my little MacBook to please stay alive until I get another job (it’s about to turn 4 which seems to be the magic number that each of my laptops always die on. This MacBook is already showing signs of following this particular trend). Oh yes. And one more year of university….I need to decide if I want to upgrade my diploma to a Masters. Eek!

I hope that settles some burning questions. I know I’m super lucky to have been blessed with a sense of humour and have been able to laugh at some of the ironic moments that have been occurring and the days where we get overwhelmed by the unknowns and the sadness of farewelling something that has been a huge part of our lives. I’ve always been a laugher more than a crier, and I plan to keep it that way. :) The great thing about times of upheaval is that they force you to reflect, reassess and affirm you are on the right path, still holding integrity to your values and beliefs and make you realise who your true friends are. I’ve been blessed with oh so many incredible people to call my friends and I know exactly how lucky I am in that regard.

I’ll be keeping you posted!

LA x

 

 

Smoky hair in the midst of transitions…

My hair smells of campfire smoke as I sat with the Soul Surfers crew last night toasting marshmallows (marshmallows may be my downfall to ever becoming a vegetarian). I’m wrapped in my duvet listening to BBC 6 Music (my favourite radio station). I’ve been thinking of my friends who are grieving or worried they are about to be grieving the loss of a loved one.

Yesterday for the first time I was able to admit something to fellow humans I haven’t wanted to admit but knew I’d eventually have to. Thank you peers and friends who sat and listened and empathised with me. I don’t know if you’re reading, but if you are, I really appreciate it.

Today I enter with some trepidation. There is an important meeting tonight at work, and I suspect it’s going to end with me coming home relieved, uneasy or in tears. If you are the praying type, please pray I’ll have the right responses!

My friends introduced me to a book of Common Prayer put together by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. This morning I’m meditating on this prayer:

Lord, help me now to unclutter my life, to organise myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, teach me to listen to my heart; teach me to welcome change, instead of fearing it. Lord, I give you these stirrings inside me. I give you my discontent. I give you my restlessness. I give you my doubt. I give you my despair. I give you all the longings I hold inside. Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtaking empty space of an open door.

Prayer for Tricia

Hi,

Tricia Lawrenson’s story is one of a miracle. It was Tricia & Nathan that ‘introduced’ me to Eva when she was working on her documentary about waiting for transplant and online friendships, 65_RedRoses. I remember how Eva stayed up praying the night Tricia got her call for transplant, 6 months after Eva had received a double lung transplant.

Like Eva did, Tricia now needs a second lung transplant. She has been ‘healthy’ for a few years now after a battle with post-transplant lymphoma. But recently her condition has deteriorated rapidly and now she is back at Duke Medical Center and needs our prayers again. Her husband, Nathan just tweeted to say that she is starting Physical Therapy so they can get her listed sooner than later.

Please pray for the treatments she is getting to work. Pray for the medical team looking after her. For her family which includes their miracle daughter, Gwyneth (almost 5) and a foster son.

Thanks everyone.

What are your thoughts on… Prayer?

So next weekend I have to speak on the subject of prayer. I would love your thoughts on this topic as I prepare!

What is the point of prayer?

What do you think prayer is?

What concerns you about people who pray?

When does prayer become important?

When you hear the words prayer or praying – what thoughts spring to your mind?

What say you blog readers? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, because I would love to hear them whether you are a person who prays or a person who doesn’t.

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. :)

Gulp…

Back in the days of Musings of a Koala (my old blog) I wrote about something that scared the crap out of me, and was shocked when the Director of the national charity I volunteer with, Joanna found the post and commened on it.

It was one of the encouraging words that lead to me sharing the journey I had into the work I do in more detail over a series of posts. I was totally overwhelmed by the response those posts got – not only from the number of folks in my church who eventually worked up the courage to ask me about it (most of whom I had no idea read my blog!), but also from a number of e-mails I got from people telling me about how those posts had helped them in some way. I really and truly didn’t expect it, but it gave me the courage to do what I’d been wishing to do for a long time and really be open about it and started this blog very aptly named ‘Learning from Sophie‘.

I actually didn’t explain the title of my blog until about a month after it went live.

One of the reasons I did inter:act is because I really wanted to be able to be better at public speaking, because I felt that maybe I needed to be to help mobilise the church to dealing with pregnancy crisis & pregnancy loss in a much more Jesus-like way.

It’s funny how common pregnancy crisis & pregnancy loss is in our country – it’s a common struggle. Yet I’ve gone to Christian conferences that have had seminars on supporting people who have been sexually abused, struggled with depression generally or with their sexual identity or with sex & relationships in general. And yet time after time people say “I wish I’d known how to help my friend” “I wish people had spoken with me about this before I got pregnant” and even “My minister advised me to have an abortion so nobody would find out I got pregnant out of wedlock“.

So last week I simultaneously wanted to both cheer and throw up when 2 women organising a Christian women’s conference in Edinburgh had said they felt they needed to have a session on the topic of prayer, pregnancy crisis & healing from pregnancy loss.

And that they would like me to give a talk on the subject.

Oh help.

I’m nervous for several reasons. Firstly, I really don’t want to mess this up. Secondly, I’m not a natural public speaker by any stretch of the imagination. Thirdly, I have no idea what to expect. Fourthly, I’m concerned they referred to me as an ‘expert’ on the subject. As my twitter bio says ‘I’m just a wee lassie fae Leith!‘ (and it’s true).

I do take courage though that the last time I was asked to speak at a Christian event (specifically to share the story of Sophie and the story of how I ended up in my current job) it went much much better than I ever could have anticipated, and heard months later how it had become a catalyst for number of exciting things that happened within that youth group. I blogged about it here and I said then that it had made me realise that sharing my story can help and make a difference in some way.

So I really hope that it will again.

Of course, I would appreciate prayer as I prepare to do this. One thing I really wish to do is to head up to beach to remember and honour my unborn child before the conference (which is in September) – I had hoped to do this in June but circumstances meant I was unable to do this. Plus if you have experience in speaking at these kind of events – please share your wisdom with me (I need it!!).

Supernatural Healing

More than a year ago, back in the days of participating in Sunday Scribblings, I wrote about healing.

I’ve experienced healing myself (most notably when my addiction to self-harm finally broke), and also seen healing while praying for others.

And other times I’ve prayed, begged and cried out for healing for myself or others and no healing has happened.

The best teaching I’ve heard on this topic has been from Ellie Mumford. I actually ended up hearing her give an almost identical talk on this subject at the weekend to the one I heard her give at Momentum in August. I was so thankful, as I wanted more people to hear it! (and I think I heard the Mike Pilavachi talk I missed because I was asleep in the caravan totally wrecked from lack of sleep & working in the marketplace when my friend got healed).

Ellie talks about being in a spiritual battle, and the fact that we’re in a weird sort of limbo of the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’ of the Kingdom of God. Jesus won the battle on the weekend He died & was ressurected from His tomb, but victory for all the earth is still not here quite yet. She used the analogy of the end of World War II – essentially victory in Europe was assured on D-Day in 1944, but between then and the official end of the war on VE Day 1945 there were a huge amount of casualties.

Though Jesus’ death & ressurection has ensured victory, we are still waiting for His return which will be like a VE Day  for all the earth!

And so as we pray for healing – we live in that tension. Some people we pray for get healed immediately. Others don’t. And we don’t know why.

It’s like that whole premise of Pete Wilson’s book – sometimes God doesn’t show up the way we think He will (or the way we think He should).

But for sure we see God do miracles – the testimonies in the bible, but also some of the miracles we see when we – His people – pray with faith, knowing that an authority to be instruments of healing has been given to us.

And so I reflect back a year ago, in South Africa. When I tried to walk back to my friends after being prayed for and realised I couldn’t put weight on my right leg because of the pain in my knee. A consultation with the Team Nurse declared I’d pulled tendons in my knee during the prayer ministry time (I have NO idea how to this day). Me & my roommate prayed and it seemed to get better. Then it would come back.  Over the last year it has flared up again on many occasions – particularly when I’ve been driving longer distances.

It flared up again while driving to Aberdeen. After a few  standing for a few worship songs I was limping around church on Friday night. It had settled a little by the Saturday. But then Ellie teaches, and then decides that we should all have ago at this healing thing. Does anyone in the room have any words of knowledge about physical healing (ie God telling them about someone in need of healing for a specific thing).

Of course the first guy to speak up says “I think God is saying to me that there’s someone in the room who has a problem with their right knee“. I turn to look at my friend Tanja, she smiles. I sheepishly put my hand up…I think that might be me. Thankfully someone else had a knee issue, so there was you know…doubt, and being that I don’t like getting prayed for (in the being there in person sense) I thought – phew! maybe it’s not me! yay!

Until someone else says ‘I think there’s someone in the room with a problem in their left wrist’. And someone else says ‘stigmatism‘.

By this point, I’m sinking lower and lower in my seat, embarrassed. But knowing it will encourage the people that had these words, that they were from God – I stand up and willingly get prayed for.

I felt nothing in my knee, but did feel a tingling in my left wrist. So after, I asked Tanja to come out to the foyer with me. I decided to test my knee and wrist out by attempting a cartwheel.

On a stone floor.

After making a fool of myself, I realise: my knee feels a ton better. But my wrist is kinda sore, and it was fine before.

And so I do another attempted cartwheel.

My wrist is definitely now VERY sore.

That night, I didn’t get much sleep as the pain radiated from my wrist up to my elbow, shoulder and down to my fingers. Not fun.

I have no idea if my wrist will get better, or if my knee will flare up again despite the obvious improvement (particularly the next day driving back, I had no pain or stiffness at all, and I usually would). But I still hope, because I know it is possible even though it may never happen. :)

Mourning and Rejoicing

At the beginning of the summer, two people with close connection to the national charity I work for/with were diagnosed with cancer.

Of course we all began to pray and plead once again, just as we had done last summer for Joanna when we found out she had cancer.

Healing is a funny thing, and a topic that can stir up a lot of emotions and previous hurts amongst people.

One of the best talks I heard at Momentum this year, was one by Ellie Mumford (I’m so looking forward to learning from her again at the Naturally Supernatural conference) as she talked about healing – how you can pray for the same thing for 2 people and the outcomes can be entirely different. And we have no real answers for why that is.

It’s something I’ve already wrestled with in the past, and talked about on a Sunday Scribbling last year.

Last week, it was 9 p.m. on a weeknight and I was closing a meeting in prayer when my phone started going bananas. I apologised to others praying for the disturbance, and popped it on silent…but I saw that the person text me to ask me to phone them, and promptly attempted to ring twice more straight after sending a text I knew something was wrong.

And something was wrong.

One of the people we’d been praying for, a person whose battle with cancer was over – he had finished chemo treatment, the outlook seemed positive, and he was recovering at home – had died very suddenly.

What? How? Why?

I wasn’t too chuffed with God, and found myself just cleaning mugs away from the chatter of people heading home in a state of shock.

A few days later though, I found out the other person we’d been praying for had received news that the chemo had worked in reducing the tumours in her body, and that hopefully after another surgery no more chemo would be needed. :)

Incredible news.

In reality for both of them (hopefully) the battle is over. Just not necessarily in the way we’d hoped, because at the same time we are both mourning and rejoicing…

We mourn the loss of someone taken from this world, who will be deeply missed. Who leaves behind a wife and children.

We rejoice that there is a future here on earth for many, many more years for a young woman whose battle with cancer is hopefully going to be over very soon.


Praying is a dangerous business

I’ve realised that I’ve been pretty lucky not to have grown up in a Christian culture in some ways. Why? Because I never learned all the politics of church and religious culture. All the add-ons, and as a result some religious rituals or rules make me giggles.

However, praying is not usually one of them.

I LOVE to pray. I love to pray for people. I totally have no qualms about the Holy Spirit (which freaks a lot of my Jesus believing friends out).

The fact is inviting the Holy Spirit to come and minister to people is a dangerous and sometime hilarious business. And you know what? That is biblical. As one church leader pointed out the first post-Jesus evangelistic sermon started with the words ‘We’re not drunk

People speaking weird languages. People being healed of injury or ailment. People falling over. People starting to laugh. People screaming as evil spirits are cast out of them.

It is weird. It is tough (if not impossible) to explain.

But surely, if it was explainable, it would not be God at work?

Anyway. With all the havoc that the Holy Spirit creates, praying can be a highly dangerous business. And I’d just like to give you a few examples of how, and a few pointers for those of you who like accident prevention. Especially as you gather with other Christians and may be involved in prayer ministry today (being that it’s Sunday and all). :)

1. Being prayed for may make you cry.

So before you go to a gathering of Christians where you may possibly be prayed for, do not wear eyeliner under your eyes. And if you want to wear mascara make sure it is of the waterproof sort.

2. Being prayed for may make you fall backwards.

I was very dubious about this whole falling backwards thing until of course it happened to me for the first time at Imagine 2008. The first time was all fine as I had 2 lovely women who had insisted on praying for me (I was trying to duck out under the premise that I was on the prayer ministry team). They caught me, didn’t hype anything and all was overwhelming but good.

So size up your pray-ers…are they going to be able to catch you if you fall?

3. Being prayed for may make you fall backwards, and when you fall backwards your top may ride up.

And you will have no control over the fact this happening. You may reveal more than you want to of your body, bordering on the edge of inappropriate. Or stomping right over the edge of inappropriate. And while it’s nice that God has given you a word and a picture of the woman in South Africa you’ll meet to pass it on to. Flashing your notsoflat tummy is slightly embarrassing.

You can prevent this by choosing your clothing very carefully.

4. Being prayed for may mean someone talks utter crap to you.

The fact is we’re all human, and sometimes what we think is God is actually us. Sooo…know that while prophecy can be personal it doesn’t have to  be private – it’s ok to share words you’ve been given by others with trusted Christian friends to help you discern them. And it’s ok to say ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t think that’s relevant for me right now, but thank you for having the courage to share that‘ to the person who has ‘spoken’.

It is not OK if that person continues to pray that over you once you’ve said that it is irrelevant.

5. Being prayed for can make people fall over.

So it’s important to have space in case that happens. And for people praying to have their eyes open so they can gently move someone out of the way of a falling person. Or catch a falling person.

6. Being prayed for can give you bruises.

If the people praying for someone else aren’t paying much attention and their pray-ee falls backwards and lands on your legs as you are already prostate on the ground seeing visions and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Again, it helps to have space and people praying with their eyes open.

7. Being prayed for can cause you injury.

Although I’m not sure how. But it did once happen to me in South Africa… (and to this day I don’t have a clue quite how it happened).

Make sure there is a First Aid kit handy, just in case.

8. And while we’re on the topic of injury…you may get someone pray for you and not check to see what’s happened after.

So if someone is praying for healing of the knee you injured during a prayer ministry time, they should really check you have actually been healed before they leave you abandoned and unable to get up off the floor should the Lord not have chosen to restore the tendons in your knee to working order.

9. Being prayed for makes you snotty.

Usually because of the welling up of tears and the fact that they end up running down your nose.

You can help by having tissues available and a nice prayer ministry team who subtley slip clean tissues into your hand so you can blow/wipe your nose and maintain a little dignity, and not gross out everyone around you by bogeys hanging out your nose or anything.

10. Being prayed for can change your life.

Because you open up yourself to listening to a powerful and almighty being. And you can never be too sure what He is going to say to you. Or the wonderful things He can do. The inspiration and encouragement and knowledge He can share with you.

So go enter in ready to listen with your mind and heart open, and prepare yourself to be blown away.

Like I said before…Praying is a dangerous business. Done with a bit of common sense and a lot of love it can change the world. But it’s a bit like what Forrest Gump’s mother said about life – it’s like a box of chocolates – you just ain’t ever sure what you’re gonna get! But like chocolate, if it’s from God…it’s probably pretty good!

:)