Saturday, June 30, 2012

Women's Health

******SERIOUS WARNING - if you don't know much about women's health, I would advise caution for the penultimate paragraph******

I have sampled the NHS in various places in the last week or so and there is an obvious difference in the way people and situations are handled - there has to be, not everyone can have all the attention all of the time and not everything needs to be fast - but there does need to be a quality, a standard of the way people are treated.

My poor Nan has been through the NHS for longer than anyone I know, and I fully appreciate how she feels after sitting with her this week during a trip to A and E. I won't tell you the full story, because, being a Fisher and with my Nan's voice in my head, that would take too long, instead let me just tell you that the Doctor we saw was unnecessarily abrupt and did not follow through on what she promised at all, she didn't listen and she didn't care. My Nan is of the generation that doesn't want to make a fuss or be a nuisance to anyone, yet she was treated like she was having a tantrum, all for breaking her wrist! Some older people know exactly what they want to say and exactly how to express themselves, others really struggle and just need someone to listen to them, so that they can fully explain how they feel and how they think they should be treated - my Nan is the latter. Yes, she may already have a cast on, but she is in pain and what she is saying is helpful for you, Madam Doctor. Needless to say, the GP surgery were more helpful than A and E, and did the leg work for my Nan's Fracture Clinic appointment so that my sister and I didn't have to. That's service to be proud of!

My second encounter, just a day later, was with a pharmacist, who did listen and fixed my problem within minutes of me speaking to her, so I didn't need to waste a Doctor's time, which is exactly what Pharmacists are for. Huzzah, I am no longer suffering so badly with my hayfever. (As I write, I have a painful right eye, because SWAN decided to send the heavies out to cut the grass!)

My third encounter was on the phone, and I think if I'd have said something different to what I did, I might have got a different response, but it was lovely for me to pick up the phone and get someone pleasant on the other end, who wanted to help me.

Hopefully, my final encounter this week, was today. I was welcomed, asked to fill out another form, and told to wait. When my name was called, my heart jumped, as it often does when I am in the doctors and the nurse and I went the short distance to the office. Today I have done something that I have never done before and won't hopefully need to do again for 3 to 5 years. I had a Smear test. As I have never had one before - really - this is the very first time I have been examined for anything other than a chest infection, I was nervously trying to act like it was something I had done before. Apparently though, I was not nearly relaxed enough and as the nurse talked me through everything, I did tense up, a lot. A couple of deep breaths later and I felt the need to go shopping! Still, it was wasn't painless, but it wasn't the most painful thing (stubbing your toe or shutting your finger in the door are more painful) and I must remember that - for the sake of my health, my sanity, having a smear test done is far better for me, than spending a lifetime in the doctors/hospital being seriously ill.

The UK's health service is a tricky one to negotiate some times, you want what is best for yourself, and those you love, but you can't, unless you're wealthy enough to go private, choose your PCT, your A and E doctor or who is in front of you as you sit an important exam (see what I did there?), so you're stuck with it. There are bound to be frustrations with anything, teething problems and the occasional 'Whaaaaaat?' moment, but as a user of the service you stick with it and hope, as promised, that a letter drops on the doormat to tell you it is all ok.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Out of the box

Today I decided to start a memory wall, so now it is in it's infancy, I can show you how it will progress as I live here for the next chapter in my life, through, obviously the medium of photo (because drawing it would be painstaking!). So here is the very first picture of the memory wall

You might not recognise any of these people, but let me assure you, every photo has a meaning! Of course. There are 22 photos on their way, from Photobox, for the magical price of £1.99!!

Tonight, I also opened a box that has been in my parents loft for 11 years - it migrated up there at the beginning of uni and obviously has come back into my possession. So I dusted it off and had a look inside, rather excited as to what I might find. What I did find is the collection in the top left of the above photo - An African greetings card, a postcard from Martin and Rosie in Zanzibar, a photo of Yohanna, Issac and Fredrick, and a picture of Grace and I making 'African Donuts'. These things are now just shy of 10 years old, which is a testament to where I was ten years ago and how far I have come.

In the box was a lot of elephant stuff - I am still waiting to see one in their natural habitat, but I love them all the same! I hope my children will have the same love for wildlife that I do and I hope that what I have collected will be good enough for them to keep (or just think 'crazy mum') in the future! The contents of the box is now something to keep - some of it has found it's way into my flat and on display, the rest is back in the box for me to squeal at in 10 years time!

I have thrown some things away. A birthday card I don't want any more and a letter or two. Stuff from holidays has stayed. And it looks like it is time to start collecting again!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Is honesty the best policy?

Several things I have read, written and spoken about in the past have often been said with real honesty, but in life honesty hurts.

I am fortunate that I have parents and grandparents who have taught me that honesty is a positive thing, something to learn from and that lying is discouraged. In that way a lie is caught out quickly and the conversation moves on.

Recently I have been thinking about the best way to share your honest opinion about something that your feel strongly about. Politicians, church leaders and others in prominent positions have been applauded for their honest opinion though sometimes, it has backfired completely. Through social media, you can be quick to share your opinion, often without a second thought about how it affects your friends/followers. Even in a well thought out document, the opinion of some has not sat well with society. There is honesty that is meant to provoke, people that decide controversy is the only way to be heard.

There is also honesty that is affirming and gathers a group of friends together in a common opinion. When that happens, when you agree to agree, love is easier.

Thinking about Biblical honesty, we've been set up to lie from the Fall - Adam and Eve were unable to hold their hands up and say 'it was me' when God asked. And thinking about Jesus, his honesty was measured, weighed and said - it hurt the religious leaders of the time, but he shows the truth through his actions.

We can see that honesty comes from feelings - frustration, pain, happiness, etc. Jesus is honest when he is asked a question, so following his example, I should be honest every time someone asks me question and talks to me, but I should also be considerate as I give my answers. Though sometimes, my hurt, pain, resentment, anger has gotten in the way of me answering graciously. I apologise for that, I have no excuses, I am responsible for my own actions, I am sorry if you know me and you have been hurt by my brutal honesty.

So is honesty the best policy? Yes, but a measured response is the way to go about it. It could save you a lot of hurt in the long run if you answer someone graciously, with God's heart, with love and with open-mindedness. Sometimes though, it does hurt and when it does, when it takes so much out of you that you feel like you need to give up and give in, that is the time to be considerate again, look at what you have said, how you felt and how to move on.

God's honesty translates into fierce love, He wants those that He has called to know He is in charge. It translates into a long journey of discovery and the chance over and over to say sorry, wipe the slate clean and work out what next.

I'm still figuring it out. I am far from perfect, far from understanding what is the best way to respond to what I have been told in most cases. How to be honest gracefully is hard to do, but with God's help, anything is possible!

Friday, June 22, 2012


The wonderful young lady I have watched grow up for the last 19 years is currently having an adventure in Africa. I wish I had been more prepared this year than just to let her go and be on her own for a year. I wish I had seen her in her new home, been there to look after her when she was ill and celebrate with her as God does wonderful things for her and the people she is working with.

Yesterday she wrote a blog about death, and I can't tell you how proud I am of the adult she has become. You can read her blog about her African adventure here. It's been a development of every kind. The first week was a blur really, if you could hear Verity talk, you would have trouble keeping up and she blogged in the same way, but since then things have become slower and more calculated, which is better for everyone! She still writes letters with no punctuation however!

Her latest blog is just heart-wrenching, but true to the core that God has hold of every child she has seen in the last year.

I can't wait until she gets back, we only have 6 weeks left and then I want to see her off to Uni, spreading the Gospel and finding her feet back here. I can't say with any certainty that God will keep her here, but I hope she'll stay long enough to share her story with the church in Billericay and England...

As for me, I am preparing for all sorts of questions and fun times as SOLID and the summer are racing before me. There are meetings galore (I am 'out' for potentially 10 nights in a row!) and every opportunity to share the gospel with the young people I work with. For the next half an hour I am going to be putting together a prayer list for the church for the summer, which includes the names for the 26 young people who have decided to come to SOLID this year.

I am so immensely proud of all of the young people I work with and all of the adults too. For such a time as this and in such a place as this. Billericay is changing, the generations are changing, dare I say turning to God?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Thoughts on Schools Work

I think a lot, about things that need thought and about things that don't even need a moment, yet sometimes consume me.

I have been thinking a lot about church, family, kingdom and school. About how I am in a hugely privileged to have a good job, that I am passionate about, and a bunch of people around me who seem to be on the same page as me for the most part!

As a team we have been talking about Schools Work - about passing the baton and encouraging the transition time to be a really positive one for a lot of our year six children and also about how we can reach secondary school pupils. We run a lunch time group for anyone to come along to, and recently thoughts have turned to how we can encourage the Christians at school and how we can model kingdom living to those who don't know Christ (and subsequently, life focuses on other things).

As with a few work things recently, Youth Work Magazine and Youth Work The Summit have provided articles and ideas to encourage me, though that the same time have I have asked the question 'how on earth do they know what is going on in my head?'. It seems I am not alone in my thoughts that the church needs to work on it's inter-generational relationships (that is one for another time) and also on the Christian Unions that seem to be happening around the country.

The article about Christian Unions (they haven't updated the website, so I can't link to it) was very positive - linking to things I already know about - alpha, prayer spaces in school and the project that the writer works with, The Pais Project. It is an interesting take on how to encourage the Christians in our local schools - but actually, if we live in a post-Christian society (well done for catching on to this), Christians are few and far between. So gathering them together in a school context is brilliant and they can help change their school, through prayer, projects of their own and in other ways that are suggested by the writer. But in a Post-Christian Society our relationships are often with non-Christians who don't understand the faith that we cling to dearly, they can't see the difference between those who have a faith (whatever religion) and those who don't, and often don't look beyond what is directly in front of them - which is often the phone or tablet in their hand (sometimes it is a book!).

This is where my thoughts become questions, some of which have been answered by some insightful people, others have to be discussions that we have started with the team that I work with.

How do we reach the students that are disaffected? Those who don't want to be in education any more.
How do we encourage those that are right on the cusp of making a decision?
How do we get young people to interact with adults, after they've put their phone away?
How do we work within a context of ignorance and hostility? Often a place where spiritually dark questions are asked.
How do we address relationships that are unhealthy without being judgemental?
How do you reach those that were previously interested and you have not seen for a while?
How do you reach new students effectively? This final one stems from the feeling that year group assemblies are no longer as effective at spreading the message about youth groups, lunchtime clubs and the Gospel as they used to be.

So as you can see, in my essay-ness, that I have a lot of questions about what we are doing at the moment, all of it is being discussed and put into action where appropriate. I do have a problem with the way education is working at the moment though. So many of the year nine students I have seen are already doing work towards their G.C.S.E. exams. My heart screams 'Give them a break!', and that's before they have even started. What has happened to letting our children be children?

I am praying that their will be answers soon, that the September onslaught will not come too quickly, but will come in order that we can get things rolling in schools across Billericay. Most of all though, I want the young people who are in our town to have a chance to get to know Jesus and if they already do, to give them deeper roots, so that when they do step out in faith they don't fall over or get blown away by life!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I love conferences, I love spending time listening to people, I love spending time hearing what others have to say about things and then forming opinions of my own, that others may or may not agree with.

Equal is one of those conferences. It was women only - which was a good thing, what we heard during the day though, needs to be heard by everyone, church leaders, men and women, you get the picture.

I guess the main thing I got from it was to do with being a priestess rather than a princess. Women of my age have been spun a web of lies, that we should be damsels with long flowing hair, locked in a tower, waiting for a dashing young man to rescue us. But we shouldn't expect that a man shouldn't fight for us either. I already have my Prince, the head of my church, my faith and the man who I am following - so I am called to be a priestess of my faith, someone who leads, who people look to and given the opportunity I will share my story.

I don't always get it right, it is good to get it wrong sometimes. I have my own struggles which I can share with those around me. I am told lies that I don't need to believe. I am doing my job because I am called and equipped, not because I am rubbish. I should do what I am doing, and do it well.

I don't emasculate men by being strong and independent, nor by knowing what I want. If I were in a relationship with a God-fearing man, I would want us to be complete - two halves of a whole, with God at the centre. Making decisions together and following God's call for our lives. That takes a lot of hard work.

There's more, but I don't have my notes on me! More when I have thought about it some more.

24 hrs in A and E

Once again, we have been allowed access to the A and E department by Channel 4 and it has been great again. Love, loss and life seem to just be the order of the day really.

It has it's teary-eyed moments and the moments of disbelief as victims with exactly the same injuries appear over the time after one is injured in an horrific way.

Of course I have been tweeting about it with the #24hrsAE. If you haven't watched it, seriously, please do, you will be astounded by human nature.