Search This Blog

Monday, August 8, 2016

I Don't Know How To Do This

Due to technical issues, I will be posting blogs back at this web address for the foreseeable future. Thank you for your patience with this.

I don't even know how to begin this blog, but I feel I want to share with you all what it is like watching a family member suffer with cancer. I am going to try and be honest, and some of what I say may startle or upset you, but this is our daily reality and many other families go through this as well.

When a family member is sick it doesn't just affect them, it is as if the cancer is being battled by the whole group. Everyday, from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep, we are aware of, thinking of, and talking about the cancer. It infects everything you do, everything you feel, even what you say. It is the silent extra household member - the black sheep that you desperately want to leave and yet keeps hanging around. It drains our energy, saps our strength and eats away at our joy.

From the time my eyes open, and sometimes before that, I am wondering how Andrea is. Did she sleep well? Is she in pain? Will we need to visit the hospital today? Each night before I fall of to sleep I am thinking about the next day - what do I need to get done? Will someone always be in the house with her? Do we have any appointments we need to get to? I dream about giving her medication, making her room pretty, pushing her in wheelchairs.

In the crisis moments I find I function well. When she collapsed in the bathroom two days ago and was going in and out of consciousness, I was calm, focused and able to take control of the situation. It is the time in between crises that I find hardest. I can never fully relax, because what if that is the moment I am needed? You may think I am overthinking it, but the last time I went to a personal appointment was the time I was called home because of the bathroom incident. My phone never leaves my side anymore, never gets turned off or put on silent.

In the brief moments I am not thinking about Andrea, I am thinking about Luke. As her only child, my husband is taking his mum's illness hard. He already battles depression and this is sapping any strength he had to get through the days in one piece. I see him struggling to stay above water, and I have no words of encouragement to offer him. "This will get better" is crap when we know it will get worse before then. "It will be ok" means nothing in the face of his mum dying. All I have left is "I love you, I am here with you." I feel guilty that I cannot give him more than that. It breaks my heart to not see him happy and yet I know I can do nothing to make him happy in this time. Between the cancer and the depression, by the end of the day I have nothing left to give to anyone.

I don't know how to do this. I think that a lot as I try and keep everyone moving forward. A friend of mine said I was a rock for my family. I replied that I feel more like a pebble being swept down rapids. My counsellor told me I need to start getting my feelings out or I will end up no good for anyone, but the reality of my grief and pain is something I feel guilty about sharing, knowing it will make people cry, make Andrea feel like she brought this upon me, make my husband feel like he is not supporting me enough. We are all hurting, and we are hurting all the more because we know our pain hurts each other.

I try to focus on the good things. I love this time I get to look after Andrea, and wouldn't change it for the world. I am astounded by the love and generosity of her friends. I am so aware of the love of our small family unit. We couldn't do it without each other. 

But we are waiting for the axe to fall. With every other painful part of life, you can put a time frame on it - you just have to get through this few weeks and then it will all be done. We have no time frame. And the end of this road is not something we want to rush. So we wait, knowing what is coming, unable to avoid it, and unable to stop the pain. We are grieving in preparation for grief.

I don't know how to do this. But somehow we all find the strength each day to keep going. We find it in each other, in dark humour, in prayer, in friends. We still find moments of laughter and fun. We appreciate the small wins all the more. None of us know how to do this, and yet we muddle along. We may be limping, but we are still walking this road.

To my mama - I love you more than I can say. You are not a burden and you have not caused this pain. I am honoured to have you in my life and to be able to serve you in this way. 

To my husband - you are more than enough. I will love you no matter what happens. You give me strength, even when you feel so weak. I love you with all my heart.

To all our friends and supporters - sorry if we don't have enough energy to see you and to chat. Know that we are so grateful for anything and everything you do, say, send. You make this journey that much easier.


Please visit the link below to go to my new blog site over at

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Living in a Dream

I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is a town called Taupo in the North Island of New Zealand, and if you haven't been, you really should. All of the photos in this blog are from places I see on a daily basis on my drive to work.

Often people ask me if I mind having to commute half an hour to work (and yes, in New Zealand (apart from in Auckland) that is a long way to travel for work). I can't say that I do mind it. Every day I get an hour to relax, destress, de-work mode, pray and look at the breathtaking creation that is around me (as well as look at the road of course!

Lake Taupo is the largest in this little country of mine, and it has a personality. Some days it is dark and moody, others it is tired and weather beaten. And on yet others it looks as if it has been newly washed and sparkles in the sunlight.

It is on the shores of this moody lake that I get to live out my life at present. The changes on it's mood often reflect in the way I am thinking about life on my drive home. When it is stormy and overcast I tend to think of deep, and often dark, life crises. When it is shiny and new looking, I find myself thinking of the possibilities the future holds for me.

Today it couldn't make up its mind. It went from rainy to fine and back again and, not surprisingly, I found myself thinking about recent changes that have been occurring in my life and my perception of it. But to explain the depth of what I was thinking about we need to go back a wee way.

About 5 years ago I began to have a recurring dream. It was about a boy who I use to have a unrequited crush on. In my dream he lived next door to the house in which I grew up. Every dream would start the same, my parents and I were having a row. Not an ordinary row, but a full on screaming at each other row. I would be yelling, crying, telling them I hated them and that I was leaving the house, and I would run to my room.

Through my window in my dream I could see into the upstairs windows of this boy's house. Every time I was upset or lonely I would look out my window and he would be in his window just watching me. Even if his lights were off. It was comforting yet really really creepy and I would wake with a deeply uneasy feeling and the dream would haunt me for the rest of the day.

About a year after starting to have this dream fairly regularly, it changed. I was still rowing with my parents but now I would go round to his house to hang out with him. My parents would tell me I was forbidden from doing it and I would anyway. We would get into more arguments about that and then I would end up in my room again.

Another year later and it changed again. This time it was his mum who was forbidding us to hang out. She would kick me out of her house and we started meeting by the fence at night time so we wouldn't in trouble. Now let me explain, we weren't romantically involved in real life or my dream, it was more that we were both really lonely and needing a friend and found a common ally. But the feeling of uneasiness stayed with me every time I had the dream. I felt like a naughty teenager again who was about to get snapped for lying and sneaking out of the house. It is a feeling I don't particularly like to revisit and yet that is how I felt after every dream.

After years of these recurring dreams, last night it changed again, This time I was at home and my parents and I were talking and laughing when the boy's mum came over to see us. She was bringing up Christmas presents and she gave a particularly large and heavy one with a note on it. The note said "It's ok, you are welcome anytime." The present turned out to be a huge candle. This time I woke up feeling very at peace.

How does this relate to my drive, I hear you ask?

I was thinking about that dream on my drive home today and I was reflecting on what it all might mean. But just like the lake, I couldn't make up my mind. I went between thinking it was just a dream, thinking it had some deep hidden meaning, and thinking about panda's (you know, as you do). Then I had a little bit of an epiphany.

I wonder if my dream has been changing as I have been changing.

When my dream first started I felt very lost, unhappy with some significant relationships in my life, and alone. I wanted someone who could understand but I was uncomfortable sharing about what was going on. I thought I would be judged and misunderstood and so I only really talked to my husband and my sister about it. Recently though, I have found a deep sense of peace with the decisions I have made. Perhaps my dream reflected this sense of 'making peace' with myself.

Though dream interpretation is notorious for being wishy washy and airy fairy, there is something to be said about our subconcious reflecting what we are going through into our dreams. Or maybe I have just been dreaming about a creepy dude with a strange mother. 

Whatever the truth is, I know that living in a place of such intense beauty has really helped me to connect to myself and my feelings in a way I haven't really done before. My long drive around the lake edge focuses my mind and causes me to think about things that otherwise I would ignore. The spectacle of creation with all its glory and complexity helps my brain to look inwards and simplify. In the enormity of what God has created, I find my own significance.

All of that to say, I live in a truly gorgeous corner of the world.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The How To Guide for Destroying Yourself, Your Relationships, and Your Faith

A lot of things have been happening in my life of late but that just seems to be the norm in our household. We seem to reach a point of stability and then all hell breaks loose and we are left wondering what just hit us. I won't go into much detail, as that would be long and tedious for all involved, but I have had to repeat this little mantra of mine many times over the last month or so:

"I have Luke and I have Jesus, everything will be ok."

Now before everyone goes all theological on my ass, let me assert a couple of points.

1) if I did not have Luke I would still be ok. Distraught, but ok, because fundamentally it is Jesus who makes it all ok for me, but Luke is a nice bonus.

2) I am not saying "everything will be ok" like tomorrow will be sunny and full of fluffy bunnies, or that somehow holding on to Jesus makes my life stress free. But in the long run, even if something kills me, I believe that it will all be ok. Big picture stuff.

So back to my mantra. It keeps me sane knowing that I have a Saviour who loves me and a husband who adores me. It makes even hard things easier to deal with when I know that I have two amazing people to cry to and lean on. Doesn't make it fun though. Still sucks going through some stuff, especially when you see it hurting your partner.

Which is how I get to the title of my post:

The How To Guide for Destroying Yourself, Your Relationships, and Your Faith.

Oh yeah, I am a ray of sunshine today. Bear with me though, I do have a point aside from nihilistic wallowing.

I am a huge believer in confessing deep dark secrets in order to turn the light on them and sort them out. I have done it many times for many reasons and the response I usually receive is humbling, honest, supportive and loving. By being honest I have often given implicit permission to others to be honest also.

This is me being honest - gut churningly honest, this is not easy for me to admit to.

Most of you will know by now my issues with food. I can't hide my issues like some people do, I literally wear them. I have a fat suit that I have to wear everyday, look at everyday, deal with everyday. I have to acknowledge my limitations when I can't go as far or fast as others. I feel the pain in my joints when I walk. I find it hard to roll over in bed and have to wear a mask to breathe when I sleep.

I hate my issues. I hate that I have done this to myself.

But it doesn't stop me....and this is where my story starts.

I emotionally eat, so after the last few weeks I have been weaker in the self-control department. One morning I was talking to Luke about getting myself a coffee on the way to work. "Just a coffee" he said (because he knew where my head was at, not because he is a controlling deuche bag). "Of course babe, I wouldn't buy more." I said this BELIEVING that I wouldn't, DETERMINED I wouldn't.

1 hour later I was feeling sick from a binge on energy drinks and sweet treats. I felt guilty, ashamed, humiliated, angry....I hated myself then.

Then I went into bargaining mode with myself:

"It doesn't matter, know one will know"
"What about Luke?"
"He doesn't need to know, it will only upset him."
"But it's Luke, I tell him everything."
"He will be so angry [which he wouldn't] and would hate you [which he didn't] so don't tell him."
"But I feel like I am lying to him."
"It's only lying if he asks."
"What if he asks?"

Then I went into bargaining mode with Jesus:

"Look, I know I was stupid but please make it so that Luke doesn't ask because it would hurt him and hurt our relationship and you don't wanna do that to us do you?"
"I love you"
"Yeah yeah but could you just do this for me."
"Still love you"

I stressed about it all day. Worrying about Luke asking and catastrophizing it in my head. On the way home I kept praying that he wouldn't ask, don't make me admit to this to him.

(NOTE: as weight has been an issue for me and hiding food and binge eating have been real issues, hiding this from Luke is a problem. Not a little problem as some may think it is, but a real problem. You need to know the history to get it).

Luke asked.

He had to ask three times before I told him the extent of it.

The hurt in his eyes that I lied, the pain for me, and disappointment for all the work I had undone...all of these things crushed me. And I realised in that moment that you don't have to cheat or steal or physically hurt someone to ruin a relationship.

You just need to put something above your love for the other and your love for God.

It could be anything. For me it is food. It is an idol. I ruin my health, my relationships, my relationship with God over it. I would rather kill what has been given to me than to give up food. 

We all have that something that we love that is really destroying us. 

It might be something as obvious as drugs, alcohol, or cheating.

Or food.

Or maybe it is something more secretive like self-harming, picking at our skin, watching porn (or Geordie Shore *shudder*), reading romance novels at the expense of our marriages....I don't know but you do.

You, reading this, right now, have something that you know you can't control, don't want to control. It may even be your desire to control everything that is out of control!!!

Let me tell you this now:

It doesn't matter how trivial it may seem to the world.

It doesn't matter whether anyone else knows about it.

What matters is that it is controlling you.

It is causing you to hide it, lie about it, indulge in it, and it is destroying you.

Because you are not free until you give this up. You will never be free until it is gone. And when it is, when you don't have to hide anymore, your relationships and your faith will grow exponentially.

What would your life be like with this thing out of it?

What would it take to make that happen?

And are you prepared to do it?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Empty Car Seat (a poem for Zethan)

It sits in a cupboard
A capsule that encapsulates the overwhelming joy
The devastating sorrow.
A seat that will never be sat in,
Echoing the loneliness of the arms that remain empty.
A mocking injustice
That a cold box will hold what this plush chair should have cradled.
It did not have the opportunity to act out that which it was made for.
It will not comfort, protect or be that which in essence it is.
Just as parents are parents,
Whether physically or not,
This car seat will always be the seat intended to hold the most precious cargo,
And yet never managed to do so.

To be that which you are,
And yet that which you cannot be,
Is the ultimate betrayal of death to life.
Love, the enormity of which can only be measured
By the immenseness of grief,
Cannot change what it is,
Can only scream wordlessly into the night with moans from the very soul.
Yet, the graciousness of the cross is that, even within death
There is life.
There is hope.
Arms that ache to hold and love,
Will one day embrace and be filled.
A face that was known for only a moment
Will be celebrated for eternity.
Parents who are yet to be parents, will,
Through the miracle of new life,
Find a meeting of hearts, a recognition of love.
A chair sits empty in a cupboard,
"Not yet," it whispers,
"But soon."

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Jesus is NOT all I need

One year has ended and another has begun. For many people, a new year signifies new life, new hope, new dreams and goals. For others it is a reminder of things now gone, loves lost, and the struggle that is awaiting them.

For me this new year feels different from others. My birthday is new years eve and usually this means that there is fun, presents, and all the good stuff of birthday's, as well as the joy of being on holiday and also getting to celebrate the turn of the year with everyone on the same day. It is usually a great time.

This year, not so much. Not because anything really changed around me - I still got presents and all that - but because I feel different about it. Maybe it was because I was working for the first time ever on my birthday and now also on New Years Day. Maybe that made it feel just like another day rather than anything special like years past.

Or maybe it was because I am now in my 30's. Last year I turned 30, which is always a big celebration, but this year I am 31. No big celebration around that, I have just officially become a 30-something year old. This has triggered a small emotional crisis for me for several reasons:

1. I am in my 30's but my husband is still under 25. Now we have different numbers at the start of our ages it seems like such a bigger age gap than before. I feel like telling people our ages now will get even more of a reaction than it has before.

2. I still feel 24! Maybe it is because I am at the same level as my hubby, but I feel his age rather than mine. The fact that I also became sober around 23/24 after drinking since 15 means that I have developed slower emotionally than others my age - this is a proven thing that happens to addicts - and the fact that for many years I was mentally unwell means that I feel those years are missing and in my memories I am much younger than I feel. Or maybe everyone feels this way when they get older...who knows!

3. For some reason leading up to 30 feels like you are still growing up. Birthdays are still exciting and  you are still considered young. Now it feels like birthdays are less about growing up and more about getting older. Maybe popular culture has sold me the idea that it is all down hill after 30, because now it feels like it is all downhill from here.

4. I don't feel like I have accomplished as much as others my age. I have a friend who I have known for pretty much all my life. She is a trained lawyer, has a house, several investment properties, a husband, 2 kids, and a dog. I have a husband......and that is it. I am not in the job I trained for, have no kids, don't own a house, etc. Though I know I shouldn't compare my life to others - as I have gone through things that she hasn't and vice versa - it makes me feel like I should've done more.

Perhaps these are common things for people to feel as they get older, and I certainly hope I am not the only one who feels this way! Or maybe the year Luke and I have had has put me in a melancholic mood. 

We have had a tough year emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. We have moved cities, jobs, houses, churches. We have been in traffic accidents, faced the mortality of loved ones, struggled with our own health issues, and tried to understand God in the midst of suffering. It has been the toughest year we have faced as a couple, and we are both glad that it is over and a New Year has begun.

In the midst of all of what we have been going through, one thought has been playing around in my mind. It was spawned by listening to a Christian radio station and hearing so many songs about how Jesus is all I need. The songs basically all say, no matter what, no matter how crappy life is, Jesus is really all we need, ever.

Though these sentiments are probably helpful for many people, I find them somewhat difficult. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life but not even he said that he is the only thing we ever need. He said we cannot live on bread alone, but need the Word of God, and that he is the Water of Life and those who drink from him will never be thirsty, but did he mean that he was all we need for every situation?

I would argue that no, he is not. Because Jesus himself commanded us to love God with all our heart, mind and strength, and to love others as we love ourselves. Jesus can't be all we need because we are made to be in relationship with others. You can have a great relationship with Jesus and he can be your solace in times of pain, but without other people you are still lonely. You are not being fully human to only rely on Jesus for all your emotional needs.

God created us to be together. Even when he created Adam, who was in perfect relationship with God and walked and talked with God, God saw that humans should not be alone. It is only in relationship with others and with God that we are complete. Yes, these relationships are distorted in a fallen creation, and yes, these relationships can draw us away from God if we let them, but they can also bring us closer to God through our love for others and their love for us.

If we begin to face hard times with the belief that Jesus is all we need, then we do ourselves and others a disservice. We do not allow others to minister to us, to show Jesus to us in our hurt, and we also do not allow others to see God at work in our weakness. By blocking out others as something we need, then we block out an aspect of God at work in our lives also. Faith then becomes about the individual and not about the church; about how I feel about God, and not about the witness of others; about my personal relationship with Jesus at the expense of vulnerability and humility in our communities.

I have had a tough year, and I am going through an emotional crisis, but it is my relationship with others and with God that helps me get through these things. It is in my dark moments, when I am incapable of feeling the love of Christ because of my pain, that it is the love of others that ministers to me. It is through their words, their actions, and their care of me that I see and hear God. It is also when they tell me off or tell me I am not listening to God properly because of my pain that I realise that God himself is speaking to me. As iron sharpens iron, so the members of the church sharpen each other. 

So next time you are thinking God is all you need, look at what God says about that. Love one another as Christ loved the church. Lay down your life for each other, carry each others burdens, feel each others pain, and minister to the weak, wounded and hurting around you, and let others do the same for you. We are the bride of Christ and need each other just as much as we need our Saviour.

Jesus and the church are what I need.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Haters Gonna Hate (or Disposable Relationships)

My husband is 7 years younger than me. While this doesn't seem like much at first, when you realise that the same year I got married for the first time (at age 19) he was in intermediate, suddenly the age gap becomes very very large!

One aspect of this age gap is that, in this rapidly changing world, he grew up with technology that I was only discovering in my late teens/early adult years. This means that, despite having done my Masters thesis on video gaming, I am constantly hopelessly behind him when it comes to understanding technological trends of youth. I know I sound ancient right now, but it is true, and he laughs at me all the time about it (I would like to remind you all that I am only 30, but technology is developing so fast that having grown up with it as second nature gives you a distinct advantage).

But one trend I am on top of (yay me!!) is this overwhelming belief that relationships that don't work should just be ditched. This trend is particularly popular through quotes on facebook.

By and large these quotes - of which I have chosen a few of the lest offensive to display - are basically stating that if you have ever hurt me, insulted me, misunderstood me, made me angry, broken my trust, or any other infraction on our relationship be you a friend, a partner, or anyone except my children (who are always completely above reproach) then expect me to pull the finger and walk away whistling with no regrets for ending our relationship.

As someone who has divorced a husband and hasn't had contact with her parents for 5 years, I understand what letting go of relationships is all about. I understand walking away from destructive and hurtful situations, and I really do not hold anything against anyone who chooses to do so.


I would never ever ever say that I have no regrets, that it was simple, or that these people have been dropped because they didn't treat me the way I deserved.

I do regret things. Every relationship breaks down because of things both sides have done. No one 
person is ever 100% in the wrong. There are always two sides to a story. I regret hurting people I care about, I regret not trying harder at times. I regret not speaking up sooner when I first noticed problems.

And it hurts. It hurt then and it hurts now. Though I am happily married to someone else, my divorce still cuts deep. It is a sadness in my very soul for the two people that we were and what we were able to do to each other. It is a grief for two young people, children really, that thought they could face anything together. It is a sadness for the loss of innocence and of love. It is mourning for family moments not shared and sadness over ones that were shared but went so wrong. There is anger there too and shame.

Would I choose differently now?No, I believe I acted in the best interests of everybody, but it wasn't because somehow these people were just haters who hurt me once, or even people that I was sick of.

Because relationships, even the difficult ones, are not disposable.

In a culture that moves so quickly on to the next thing, we have begun to treat our relationships the same way. Just as we line up for the newest iPhone when our old one is still working just fine, so too do we start moving on to the next relationship before we have even given our current one time to heal and to grow.

People hurt each other. There is no relationship you will ever have were you won't be hurt. My mother-in-law use to tell me that hubby would never hurt me, until one day I told her that that simply wasn't true. He would, already had in some ways (though not marriage destroying ways) and that it was OK because relationship is about forgiveness, trying to find solutions and working through tough issues. Otherwise it isn't a relationship!

If you are looking for family, friends, partners that will never hurt you then you are going to be disappointed. It is how we respond to pain and to hurt that defines our relationship. Flipping the finger and walking out anytime something bad happens merely shows how little you valued the relationship in the first place. It says more about you than about the other person. It takes time to work stuff out, sometimes years, but love is about the long haul despite the pain involved.

Jesus is the perfect example of this relational dedication. For three years he hung out with the same group of 12 mates. In particular he was ultra close to Peter. They were close in a way that makes me think of my husband and his best friend Kent. They are like brothers from another mother. Close in a way that makes me envious of what they have. At times they tell each other off but they are always there for each other for any reason, day or night.

Jesus and Peter live together, eat together, share every day together. They are close. And yet when 
Jesus is arrested Peter runs away and then, out of fear of being arrested himself, denies he ever knew the man.

Jesus reacts in a way that we should try to emulate. He forgives Peter. He returns to him after he is resurrected and embraces him. Peter then goes on to be the founding leader of the Christian church, which 2000+ years is still going strong.

Instead of reacting out of anger (which he would have been entitled to do!), despite facing torture and death alone and betrayed, Jesus shows grace and understanding. There was nothing but love and mercy for his friend. Perhaps as we meditate on Jesus this Christmas season we should ask for his grace to forgive and love those who have hurt us, and the opportunity to heal relationships that have been damaged.

May forgiveness be our focus this Christmas.

Note: If you are in a relationship that is abusive in any way - mentally, physically, sexually, or emotionally - then remove yourself from this. Forgiveness and reconciliation can happen at a distance, but the priority is your safety while you walk that journey. There are some things that we can confront head on, and others were we need the space and safety first. Please see my blog on forgiving family for more conversation around this.