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!!).

Of course you’ll be a mother!

Recently, one of the young people from our church met up with me and we got talking. Somehow it got round to kids, and having them. Or more to the point, asking about when I have kids.

As more of my friends have been having babies and I hold them, and rock them or in the case of Bump2 use my advantgeous long nails to pick the loosened cradle cap out his masses of 4 month old hair (a little gross but oddly satisfying) the question has come up a lot lately.

Only it seems to other people not to be a question but an assumption that of course I’ll have children. When you have children…when you’re a mother…when God heals you…

And for me, and the only doctor whom I have ever trusted, I know it’s not a question of when, but if I’m able.

I do understand why people make this assumption about my future. I think. I specialised my studies in maternity care and breastfeeding at university. I work in a pregnancy crisis centre. On stressful days in the Community Centre I worked in prior to me moving back, I’d escape to visit the creche where I often got a baby handed to me. I generally tend to get on well with my friends’ kids. Crying, tantrums, whining don’t scare me. Oh, plus I had a list of baby names picked out when I was like 14.

Maybe I’ll use them on my many future cats;)

Really the only thing about kids that sends me running away screaming is if they puke (babies excluded – which was just as well since my godson was a puketastic baby).

Actually, I’ve accepted the possibility of infertility now, particularly after the huge difference the temporary medically induced menopause (and subsequent relief and freedom) Depo Provera has given me. So I’m at peace with never having my own children.

It’s not that I don’t believe in healing. I know people who have been told they can’t have children and have been healed. I also know several people who for whatever reason have been unable to have children despite their  best efforts.

I realised I’ve accepted  infertility as a very real part of my life so much, if I did in the future get married, I think it would scare the crap out of me  if I did get pregnant (because I don’t expect it to happen now).

Luckily, in the unlikely event that this does happen, I know quite a few people trained in helping people deal with the shock of an unexpected pregnancy. :)

It’s almost 2011 already?

Yesterday I got the first of the e-mails from secondary school teachers asking us about dates for the pregnancy crisis centre’s youth & schools team to come in and take lessons with teenagers for 2010/11 academic year.

8.40 am on Fridays.

In mid winter.

For 6 weeks.

Whoever made the timetable to get ourselves and the lovely folks from the local young people’s sexual health clinic in to try and get a whole bunch of 15/16 year olds to talk about sex, STIs, relationships and pregnancy first thing on a Friday morning?

Crazy, crazy people.

It will barely be light. It will be cold. Everyone will just want to be going home for the weekend. It might snow again. Cassie might get stuck in the car park.

In winter I’m usually fast asleep (or curled under my duvet going ‘noooooooo….pllllleeeeeaasssseeee beam me to australia where it’s hot Jesus’).

Just as well I love this particular school so much. :)

Crossing the finish line (of this marathon at least)

It’s been a long road since December. We (we = Sarah and I) knew it was going to be a crazy and very busy time for us, and it has been a marathon.

It has been incredible. And I wish I could share it all with you, but I do believe in the importance of confidentiality. Just know that once again, I’m in awe with the networking powers of God, the way he brings the clients at the right time so they end up seeing just the right person in the centre.

I can share this I think: remember way back in January when I told you about the youth event I spoke at, sharing some of my story of pregnancy crisis, abortion & how God led me into working in a pregnancy crisis centre? Well, I found out last night 14 of the young people who were at that event have become Christians since then. How exciting is that? And what a privilege to be part of the night that became a milestone in the journey the youth workers and teens have been on. Wow.

I’ve also seen 7 wonderful women go on a journey learning new skills to help them become pregnancy crisis advisors and support workers. Sarah and I were so anxious teaching a course that was different from the one we’d experienced. I got to see not only our trainees flourish, but Sarah too. There were challenging moments (not least of which when the trainees were in the middle of a difficult emotionally draining exercise and a very drunken man suddenly appeared out of nowhere and sat down in the middle of the hall thinking he was in the café across the road). :?

We did many schools visits – often discovering we were short of volunteers at the last minute, which made things tougher than they should have been. Of course we talked of Jedi Knights, anatomy and how girls can get coughcoughbiggerboobscough when they get pregnant, we wondered if the child in the Ready, Steady, Baby book really was related to the parents and why the woman’s ‘landing strip’ in the birth diagrams to be shaped so strangely. Oh, and the teacher who told pupils while we were in the classroom ‘you shouldn’t tell a Christian you’re pregnant because they’ll judge you and tell you what to do‘.

And my first experience organising a conference… that was fraught with ‘will enough people come so we break even?’ ‘will the volcano stop people getting there?’ It was a wonderful, wonderful day. The venue worked out well, the speakers were so inspiring and how encouraging to meet people starting new centres from as far North as Stornoway right down to Dumfries…

There have been jammed doors, sleep deprived days, many cinnamon swirls, tears, frustrations, celebratory dances, grrrs, days where all we could do was laugh because otherwise we’d cry, weekends I had to avoid church to avoid getting sick (that was tough).

And now it’s all over (at least for 2010). I have 2 days off before I go back to work and start focusing back on our foundations. Finding new premises for next Februrary. Finding a new schools team for next year. Advertising and publicity. Seeing the clients that call, e-mail and walk through our doors. Preparing. And getting on the case of leaders in this city.

Because this weekend, one thing has been made clear to me……this world is very broken. But we have been given a mandate to help restore this world to it’s original state.

Want to join me?

Alone we can do little, together we can do much.

Aging, spinsterhood & cats

In 3 weeks time I’ll be teetering on the edge of my late 20s.

Not only am I still single (those ladies in church LIED…that guy was not just around the corner…), I’m still living with my mother.

In other words, I’m not only teetering on the edge of my late 20s, but also teetering on the edge of tragic spinsterhood. I fear that I’m on a steep and slippery slope onto a path that will inevitably lead me into being a crazy cat lady, and will one day be found dead, half eaten by alsatians like Bridget Jones feared.

I now have evidence that I’m gradually turning into a crazy cat lady…

Exhibit A: me, showing my friends how to do an impression of a cat’s bum.

I wish I could blame alcohol or something, but um…nope…I was 100% sober, but maybe a bit hyper on adrenaline from a busy couple of days at work. Credit for this goes to Mairead for catching all the Cat’s bum impressions on camera :?

Quote from friend on seeing this as my FB profile pic: Love how much of a complete spacker you look in your facebook profile pic. It made me smile :D

Glad to provide some entertainment for you friend.

Exhibit B:

Miss Sweetroot, when I tried to leave her house to go home on Friday decided that she would start meowing then full on pretending to be a cat to get me to stay.

She knows!! 8O She knows that I’m on the path to crazy cat ladydom and therefore being a cat will soon be the only way to communicate with me.

So moving swiftly on…

The potentially nice point on my birthday this year: thanks to Jesus’ ressurrection, we have this lovely bank holiday called Easter Monday in the UK*. And oh yes, that’s when the anniversary of my birthing falls this year.

There really is only one thing I potentially need right now. But if there is something I really, really want it is more funding for pregnancy crisis centres in Scotland. So we can do more to meet the needs of our communities.

So whether it’s because you feel sorry for the fact that my future as a tragic spinster crazy cat lady is getting closer, or because it’s Easter Monday when up from the grave He rose again & you want to do something to remember that Jesus saved us all and he was the product of the world’s most famous pregnancy crisis situation (from Mary & Joseph’s point of view at least) would you consider donating to the JustGiving page I’ve set up?

The money goes straight to the charity, if you are a UK taxpayer, JG can claim Gift Aid on behalf of the charity too. It’s also safe and secure (ie not a dodgy website).

Thank you.

Laura Anne

Future Crazy Cat Lady ;)

*just to clarify, Easter isn’t good just because I get a day off work every year for it. I’m very thankful for Jesus ressurrection saving the world. Thought I’d better make that clear. Also, we’re ‘ressurrecting’ the gospel choir for Easter. I still don’t get to be Whoopi Goldberg but it’ll still be cool. Sunday 4th April @ 11.15 a.m., Braid Centre – you should totally come along and celebrate Easter with us at MBC.

Wow. Are those nails real?!

When I came back to work after Christmas there was an e-mail in our inbox, from a lady who has been supporting our charity for a couple of years. Unbeknown to me, she had heard me sharing my testimony about how I came to work at the pregnancy crisis centre a couple of years ago at a New Year houseparty in Ardeonaig.

She asked if I’d be willing to come to an all-night youth event in Glenrothes (about 40 minute drive from Edinburgh) to share a little of my story and how God has answered prayer in my life through it.

I long ago accepted that my story is really not my story – it is God’s story, and it became God’s story the moment I asked him ‘Lord take all the crappy stuff that’s happened into my life and use it for good, use it to help others

(or something along those lines…I can’t remember the exact words I used at the time…it was 8 years ago!)

Friday was mental. I ended up singing at a wedding (seriously beginning to think I should start charging…but then so should my friend Kate as I borrowed another one of her dresses!) which ended up being longer than expected, from there to the centre, to baking cakes to driving across town to pick up DVDs for the training course to eating to driving to Glenrothes.

I got lost in Glenrothes…seriously thinking I need to invest in one of those Sat-Nav things as trying to read directions while driving on dark country roads or motorways is just a tad dangerous.

I screamed at God in  a car park. I was so exhausted, plus upset & frustrated from earlier in the day my little sister saying ‘please come, I need my big sister‘ and me not being able to. I hate, hate, hate not having an income that accommodates trips to see friends and family. It sucks. So I was feeling a little mad at God, even though I have no right to be mad at God. But I was mad at him anyway.

I eventually got there. The teenagers were so welcoming so excited and so chatty!

At 11 p.m. I was introduced and I shared some of my story. They were so quiet as I told it. They laughed at the ‘You’re pregnant’ prophecy and my reaction to it. I wasn’t sure if it was relevant or too much for them.

Then after I had spoken, two girls came up to me – they were only 13/14, and said thank you and that I was brave (ha! if only they knew)

Another girl came up to me wanting to know what it was like being pregnant when I was still in high school – was it tough?

Someone else wanted to know if I’d had children since.

Another girl asked me – what do you think happened to your baby?

And then I was floored by the next question…

Do you know what you would have named your baby?

I have never. ever. been asked that question. By anyone.

But all of you know that I was able to answer. Yes. I do.

Sophie.

They told me stories that would break your heart. Siblings who became parents at 16 and struggled, peers who sleep around and have already had several abortions, peers who lost their virginity by the time they were 12.

They wanted to know how they could reach out to their peers they saw struggling, that they in their words said ‘it’s like they have no self-worth‘.

We talked of all sorts of things – they wanted to know if I’d want to have children in the future, and if I had a girl, would I still name her Sophie? They talked about relationships, and wanting to wait for the right person.

I was astonished (in a good way) at their maturity. Seriously, they talked about this issue with a maturity that most adults I know don’t have.

And of course the final question asked of me…

You’re nails are so long…are they real?

Don’t know why but somehow every time I have a discussion with a group of teenage girls about pregnancy, my nails end up becoming a conversation topic but they do. It makes me giggle. :)

I’ve always tried to avoid public speaking. I’m much more comfortable singing behind a microphone than I am speaking behind one, and have always been nervous about sharing my story in front of people. It’s so totally different from blogging.

But last night made me realise that sharing my story does somehow help or make a difference in some way. I don’t think I fully appreciated that before.

And I’m grateful to the people that gave me an opportunity to do that, and for a God that gave me the courage to do it, and through His grace, used my rambling for His own glory.

May it all go to Him.

Stretched, Stressed, Scared

Stretched - trying to find extra time for Sarah and I to meet to prepare for Saturday’s course. While we juggle preparing for new post-abortion clients starting our support programme, schools work, and Sarah speaking at an event about the work we do on Friday. I’ve now got the ‘fun’ of juggling this around the fun SAD-insomnia-nocturnalism too.

I haven’t caught up with friends. I’ve still yet to make it to ‘in-person’ church this decade so far. I won’t be taking my godson to Tumbletots tomorrow. :(

Stressed – Trying to organise and coordinate getting our equipment from our centre to the hall with Edinburgh City Centre’s very restrictive parking restrictions under the watchful eyes of the evil (yes, EVIL) Edinburgh traffic wardens. I keep remembering things I need to remember. Like bake cakes for tea/coffee breaks (God have mercy on our trainees), do a food shop, read books. Find the flipchart marker pens. Hunt down a third volunteer for schools visit on Monday. Trying to remember all the meetings, where they are, what time…

Scared - at the responsibility God has given me. Speaking in front of classrooms of teenagers and making sure our volunteers are confident and comfortable with the lesson plans. Building up good relationships with the teachers. Training new volunteers in pregnancy crisis support. Being asked to share my testimony at events. Organising conferences for people from all over Scotland to attend.

This all seems very adult and grown up.

And then I remember, oh yeah, I’m going to be 26 this year. I’m supposed to be an adult by now. But I sure don’t feel like one.

...so yep. Stretched, stressed, scared. That pretty much sums up how I’m feeling this week.

“O Lord, hear me as I pray, pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning*, Lord. Each morning* I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly”

Psalm 5:1-3

*And when I say morning, I mean the night. When I’m going insane with awakeness and wishing I could sleep so I could get up after an 8 hour period of sleeping and eat my breakfast before lunchtime. That would be lovely.

thanks for praying

I’m sorry my blogging has gone somewhat down the toilet. It may be explained by the fact I have 2 humongous giant shopping bags of work stuff in my car or the fact I got home from work at 8.30 p.m. today .

But thank you for praying about the schools visit today… the class ended with some spontaneous applause from the teens, so I’m going to take that as a good sign even though I haven’t read their evaluations yet. :)

I’m feeling very unprepared for Saturday’s training sessions though. I suddenly realised I’m going to have to bake some time before now and Saturday. And how the heck am I going to get to the church hall for 8.30 a.m.?! Sarah and I haven’t managed to go through what each of us will be doing, because we’ve been, uh…interrupted by clients seeking our support and advice.

Hang on…I hear a voice…what’s that…? Sunshine you say? I’m pregnant with a new vision again? What’s that Lord? Oh, you’d like me to move to that nice warm country for a full-time paid position in a pregnancy crisis centre?

Why. yes, Lord. I will.

Darn. I think that was my hopeful imagination speaking.

Ah well.

I’ll stick with the part-time position in the freezing cold dark short days country for the moment… ;)

Preparing

On Monday night after digging my little Corsa out of the snow (her windscreen wipers were actually frozen to the windscreen in a block of ice underneath several inches of powdery snow) I got around to updating my iPod.

All of this in the name of preparing for starting a new year at work. It’s bizarre to think in 2 months time, it will be 1 year since Sarah and I took over coordinating the pregnancy crisis centre. We are still finding our feet really. And it’s weird not to be able to call Joanna in Basingstoke anymore. She was such a great resource of wisdom and advice as the ‘unknown’ cropped up.

Thinking about the next few months in terms of work is just overwhelming. Part of me is so excited, the other part of me wants to run and hide under my duvet in fear!

I don’t have a clue how I’m going to do this.

Let alone do it well.

And I really want to do it well.

For our volunteers, for our clients, to be a positive reflection of the God I am an ambassador for.

This year, I have even more responsibility resting on my shoulders, more opportunities to share about the work we do being given to me. It seems like the time has come to step up to the plate.

One of the things I’m enjoying at the moment though is preparing the pregnancy crisis support course. The new course (which came after me & Sarah had been trained) is different, and its creation & renewal has been overseen by the person who trained me to be a trainer. A person I deeply respect and truly has a gift in training and helping people to learn rather than just ‘teach’ them.

Something that has been added, is that each session has 10 minutes scheduled into it for focus and reflection. A time to absorb. I over the course of months have been keeping my eyes out for stories, ideas, video clips, songs to use in these ’10 minutes’ as suggested.

Some of them are already on my iPod, and I listened to them as I was preparing a couple of LFS Introducing posts to go on the blog.

It reminded me of all God has done, all He is doing, and to keep my eyes open for all that He is going to do in the future.

Please pray for the course, that everything would come together. With the crazy weather the Head Office was shut as no one could get into work. So our manuals may not arrive in time. We also still have several interviews to do, and some practical logistics to smooth over (like getting our equipment to and from the training venue every week…). Sarah and I seem to have really crappy immune systems too and we’re going into schools starting Monday – therefore increasing the potential for us to get ill.

So on 2010…

Now that the Hogmanay/New Year celebrations are over, and we’ve had the chance to chill out on ‘Coomanay’…the obligatory 2010 post!

First of all, I have to mention LFS Introducing… . I attempted to do a video blog to explain why I want to do this, and I really hope this is something that will encourage people. And I really hope people will be willing to do it! Just now I’m getting round to getting in touch with people who said they would be interested to see what they’d like to talk about and also getting in touch with people whose blogs I read to ask them if they’d be willing to take part!

16th January is a weird date in my calendar. The day my unborn child was due to be born, and this year it’s also the first day of a training course in Pregnancy Crisis Support that Sarah and I are running in Edinburgh. It’s the first time either of us have run this course, and it’s slightly different to the one we did before becoming pregnancy crisis advisors.

FebruaryPowerpoint returns !! Whoopeee!!! I can’t wait to be singing and seeing all the young people singing and bouncing praises to God again.

In March, I’ll be returning to work with the Christian Medical Fellowship to run a workshop at their medical students’ training day in Dundee.

In April, I’ll be 26 years old. Gulp.  I’ll no longer be a ‘young person’. No more cheap flights. No more young persons railcard. :( Will turning 26 stop me from acting like a big kid? Probably not. I cannot believe that ‘Elastababy’ will be 2 years old either. Scary biscuits.

In May…oh my goodness…it’s going to be crazy! Not only am I helping organise the annual conference weekend for all the Scottish pregnancy crisis centres (eek) it’s also our centre’s 10 year anniversary. We’re planning a whole range of things to celebrate and give thanks for the 10 years our centre has been open. If you are in or around the Edinburgh area…I’d love if you’d join us for some of it!

And there’ll be some new arrivals. Well, only if they don’t arrive early to join the ranks of all the super cool April babies!! ;)

Lastly, but definitely not least…the reason I was on a crazy one day journey to London and back last November. I’ve been asked to be a partner for the national charity that supports pregnancy crisis centres across the UK. The details of exactly what this will involve are not clear yet, but I know I will be looking for support in prayer, advice and finanically to be able to do it. I’m nervous and excited, and I really believe that this is something God has been preparing me for.

As for the silly stuff…I plan to return to being a blonde in 2010. I know most of you guys who read my blog and know me ‘in real life’ will be like…really? blonde?, but for most of my life I had long blonde hair. Whether I get my navel re-pierced or work up the courage to get a tattoo remains to be seen. :)