Sitting with anniversaries.

Such a long time ago….

Today would have been our 28th wedding anniversary- I loved our wedding day, with all the dreams and possibilities that it held. You don’t realise how young you were……

It would have been easier to not think too much about all this, but I have chosen to sit with it for a while. In the midst of the sadness of Colin’s death, I am thankful for the years we had, for our beautiful son Andrew, and for all the adventures, and the places we visited, the friends we made.

Since Colin died, just over four years ago now, I tried to honour his memory, by writing about his life and publishing his poems and writings. ‘Love song for a wounded warrior’ was published two years ago. I was so grateful for the opportunity to do this with Handsel press.

Yesterday, I had a gentle booklauch for a second book ‘ Love songs for healing and hope’ a collection of blogs, reflections from friends and resources about grief and faith. I am so thankful for those who have prayed for me and encouraged me in this, those who have written, and for those who attended on zoom. It is a book I hope might be supportive to those struggling with complicated grief and trauma. This morning I feel peaceful that I have tried to honour Colin’s memory, and to find some kind of purpose in what has happened.

I love the idea of Love songs. The psalms are full of people singing praises to God. In Ephesians 5:9 we are called to ‘ sing and make music in your heart to God’.

I have been listening recently, to the beautiful song ‘How can I keep from singing’ which contains the lines ‘my life flows on in endless song, above earth’s lamentations. I catch the sweet, though far off song, that hails a new creation. Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music singing. It finds an echo in my soul, how can I keep from singing.’

There is this beautiful truth that God’s melody is heard in eternity and through creation, and that it evokes within us an answering song. Sometimes it can be the wind in the trees, or a feeling of being loved. When we are broken or grieving, God sings to us a soothing lullaby. When we are in tune, it can be a harmonious melody bring inspiration, healing and hope.

I am thankful for God’s great faithfulness in the midst of our story, and my prayer is that we all experience His tender care and love in the midst of the vicissitudes of life. May we each hear His song, even on the most poignant of days…….

Gracious Father, Creator of this varied and wonderful world, thankyou that You are with us in every season of life. You grant us times of joy, love and dreaming. And in darker, more painful times, You still whisper words of strength and peace. Your holy spirit is always at work, and we are thankful. Your song is the most inspiring thing we will ever hear, and it is the soundtrack to our lives. May we always take time to listen, to regain perspective, to immerse ourselves in your abounding love, so we can indeed find healing and hope, Amen

Speaking your story!

Dear friends, my new book ‘Love songs for healing and hope’ comes out this Friday. I am still amazed and humbled that this could be true. I have a copy in my hand, which is a tangible reminder that it is real!

The book in mainly composed of reflective blogs, which tell something of my story, as I journeyed through grief and trauma after my husband’s death four years ago. He was a veteran who suffered from longstanding health issues after an injury on active service. His story, at times through his own words and poems, is recorded in ‘ Love song for a wounded warrior’. Colin wrote primarily about his experiences in Northern Ireland.

‘Love songs for healing and hope’ tells more of some of the longer term effects of sorrow and trauma, and their impact on my every day life as a widow. I also speak of some of the resources that helped me in my journey, my Christian faith, music, prayer, supportive friends etc. I invited some friends to share something of their stories also, and what helped them in more difficult days, and I am so grateful to them all for their honesty and inspiration. These stories are also included in the book.

At times it seems too hard to speak out. I feel a bit vulnerable. Yet it helps me, if anything I want through, might help another human being. That gives me strength and motivation.

A story that inspires me from.the Old Testament, is that of Esther. She lived in fear, and had to make difficult decisions, but ultimately she felt compelled to risk her life and speak out, to try to safeguard the Jewish people. I am not risking my life, but I admire her determination to do what she believed was right, even when there were many reasons to desist.

For all of us, it can be hard to know our story, never mind to speak it out. But it is holy ground listening to one another’s stories together, and learning and being encouraged.

May we all listen to one another, with patience and kindness, so even the most tentative has courage to speak. May we cry, and laugh and learn together.

Gracious God, we thankyou for people throughout history who have spoken out, whether in decisive historical moments, or in the smaller decisions of daily life. Lord Jesus, in You we see the love and truth of God, Your Word brought both challenge and mercy. We speak but in tiny echoes of yours, but we offer what we have, and pray that you would use this to bless, encourage and strengthen. So help us all speak out our stories, and may they inspire and bless, in Jesus’ name, Amen

Ps if anyone is interested in coming to the booklaunch this Friday evening at 7.30pm on zoom, please email me at woundedwarriorfg@gmail.com – thanks.

Love songs for healing and hope!

Coming out on 24th June 2022!

Dear friends, I am excited, thankful and slightly concerned, as my new book ‘ Love songs for healing and hope’ comes out at our book launch on 24th of June on zoom at 7.30pm!

I have really enjoyed blogging in recent years, and wanted to share these with people who are grieving, or struggling with life. The blogs don’t have all the answers, or indeed any answers. However I hope that in speaking of my experiences, that might help others who also find life hard. We seek to hear God’s beautiful songs of love, even in the midst of heartache or challenge.

The idea came for this, as ‘ Love song for a wounded warrior’ about our family trying to support my late husband Colin, seemed to have left the story unfinished. The book ‘Love song for a wounded warrior’ was to honour my husband’s life, to publish his writings, and to raise awareness of the issues that veterans face in civilian life, in Colin’s case, particularly his struggles with epilepsy and trauma from his military days. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to do this, and am grateful especially to my editor and publisher Jock Stein, of Handsel Press, for his patience and understanding. It felt however that this left the story incomplete, so I wanted to write about what trying to work my way through complex grief looks like.

‘Love songs for healing and hope’ is a book of resources to encourage others. I am especially grateful to ten friends who wrote of their stories, and what gave them strength, so that we might learn from their experiences. In a time of pandemic and isolation, to be part of a community of encouragers, who share their insights with honesty and grace, is such a blessing.

I will speak more of this at the booklaunch on zoom on 24th June at 7.30pm. If you would like to be part of this event, please email me on woundedwarriorfg@gmail.com. Copies of the book, cost and postage, are also available from this email address from 24th June.

All proceeds from this book are going to two inspirational charities. One is ‘ Quiet waters’ a Christian counselling charity based in Falkirk, who offer counselling and support to all. The other charity is Richmond’s Hope, who offer bereavement support to young people from the ages of 4-18. As a society facing up to the impact of covid on our collective mental health, supporting charities that work in these important fields seems crucial. ( the book is priced at £15).

Thankyou to all who have prayed and been so supportive. I am aware that everyone’s experience of trauma and grief are very individual, so this might not be for you. However I offer it as a resource for those facing life changing situations and difficulties, in the hope it might bring encouragement and healing. May God bless this intention, and may this small offering in some way be used for blessing others.

Gracious and Eternal God, we are so grateful for your faithfulness and strength, for your goodness and mercy. We come to You with our stories, mixed up experiences of delight and sorrow, bewilderment and thanksgiving. Lord Jesus, thankyou for all that has been good, and thankyou for being especially close to us in darker days of pain and tears, for You are always near. Give us courage to tell our stories, even when they are raw or unresolved, and to encourage and bless each other. May your holy spirit take this humble offering, and use it to bless, strengthen and bring healing, in Jesus‘ name, Amen.