Legacy of love.

Today is the anniversary of the booklaunch of ‘Love song for a wounded warrior’. I am so grateful for all who have been so supportive, prayerful and understanding to our story. That has made such a difference.

I started writing Colin’s story because I was journalling. I have kept a prayer journal for many years. When Colin became too unwell to complete his writings, I wanted to use my writings to give context to his words, to try to explain that they were fragments of his experiences, because over time to lost the capacity to relate his memories. I hope to eventually feel a sense of completion to have honoured his wishes in this way. Thankyou to all of you for helping me do this.

One of the things I learned about Colin’s complex military traumas was that he felt better when he told his story, was heard and understood. He felt alive telling stories about his experiences, whether it was a critical incident or a car bomb. And so there is something so powerful about sharing something of your interior life, and being heard, even if just by one person.

For me, Colin has left a legacy of love. He showed me what courage looked like, humour in the face of distress, defiance against the odds, faith in no man’s land, in a bleak and desolate territory of nothingness.

So, now I have to ask God to continue my healing, and remind me of my purpose to let these experiences enable me to in turn support others. I want to use my legacy learnings for good in the world. God is guiding me through this process, and I am so grateful. One of my learnings is that I really enjoy writing, and I want to continue this, at least for this season. I think I want to write some more contemplative pieces also, so there might be more variety in what I offer.

In the ‘Four Quartets’ T S Eliot wrote ‘ in my end is my beginning’. The circularity of life cycles is striking, and I pray that for all of us, in the midst of grief and painful endings, new buds and new life will emerge.

I often go back to the words of Jesus in John chapter 12:24 ‘ I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.’

This helps me make sense of life, for sometimes dreams, familiar ways of thinking, even people have to die. But in the mystery of all things, there gradually emerges new life and possibilities.

For anyone struggling with trauma, fear and grief, I desire healing and new possibilities for you. It is a difficult road, but our Saviour walks with us, and we explore the legacy of His love forever.

Gracious God, You know all things, You love us, and redeem our life from the pit, and crown us with love and compassion. When we are in that dark pit however, we grumble and complain and cry out to You, for we feel scared and alone. And through the cross, Lord Jesus, You offer us cleansing, and forgiveness and acceptance. You embrace us with the blanket of your love, and keep us safe. May we humbly receive your grace. Give us courage to tell our story, and to find our healing. May your holy spirit help us honour legacies of love, and use our learnings and insights to he an encouragement and blessing to others, Amen.

The power of telling our story.

Learning to speak.

In recent weeks, I have been mulling over the power of telling your story. It is perhaps a bit of a cliche, but there is something that is cathartic about trying to put something you gave experienced into words. It helps you to reinterpret the significance of what happened, and to understand it in a different way. You often notice something that you hadn’t seen before.

It might look a bit selfish to be focused on telling your story. Yet I think the purpose is a deeper understanding of our humanity, and the connection that exists between us all. And you hope this might help another human being. Some one said ” the courage it takes to tell your story might be the very thing some one needs to open their heart to hope.’

This spring was three years after Colin’s death. I thought enough time has passed to make things more bearable, and I was taken aback by the pain all over again. This is not just about his death, but also about the trauma and behaviours around epilepsy and brain injury. So many difficult memories.

I am not saying this because I am looking for sympathy. Rather I am just saying this because that’s where I am at. The processes of grief don’t follow a neat path, but are an emotional storm that is unbridled and turbulent.

So I write this to help others who are grieving. So often people say ‘ you should be over this by now’ but it really doesn’t work like that. All we can do is find the courage to say where we are at.

I started to tell my husband Colin’s story to honour his memory, but in doing this, I told our story. I had to decide which bits to leave out, or to focus on, so there is always an interpretative context. Doing this, and writing ‘love song for a wounded warrior’ has changed me, it has helped me look into a time of suffering and pain, and to try to speak to challenge people about the suffering of veterans and their families. It has helped me notice things about myself, which have been hard to face, but which ultimately will be therapeutic.

Brene Brown said ‘ owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we will ever do.’ I can understand that because I feel vulnerable and sad, and for many years I kept it all to myself. To speak of some of what happened has been tough, but also feels like a calling.

To anyone who is reading this, thank you. I think of Rick Warren’s words ‘ other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out if your deepest hurts.’ That is my prayer.

In the midst of all this, my Christian faith has been my strength. In psalm 45, the NLT translation it says: ‘beautiful words stir my heart. I will recite a lovely poem about my King, for my tongue is like then pen of a skilful poet’ I am not a skilful poet, but I do feel called to tell this story, to write, to connect, to seek to tell others of the wonders of God’s love, even in the darkest of moments, and to encourage and bring hope.

Gracious God, Your story is told in Your beautiful book, the Bible being full of Your grace and love towards a broken and fragile humanity. Lord Jesus, things happen in life that are so difficult, beyond the power of words to tell. Yet I thank you that You understand. Bring healing to all those who suffer and are in pain. Holy spirit, give us the courage to tell our individual stories, howeber messy, and somehow may they bless others. And as we speak, may we also find fresh insights, which enable us to grow stronger and find deeper peace, Amen.

“Love Song for a wounded warrior”

Dear friends, thanks so much for reading this. Like so many people, I have a desire to write, to connect. I want to tell people about the difference that Jesus’ love makes, and to encourage others on the journey through life.

You may wonder what the strap line ” including love song for a wounded warrior” means, and so i would like to explain a bit more, although it takes all the courage I can muster.

My husband Colin died just over two years ago, in April 2018 after a long time of ill health, as he had intractable epilepsy. Many People have epilepsy which is well controlled – but not him.

Colin had an head injury, sustained on active service, and this was the cause of his seizures. He had quite a journey in military and civilian life, seeking to live with his injury and its consequences. Colin wrote reflectively about how he felt, fragments that give insight as to some of the experiences that he had, and he always wanted these published.

To give his writings a framewoek, I tried to provide a context for these writings, about how Colin’s disability affected his family, as we sought to love and support him. These writings, including a piece from our son Andrew, are the material for our book ” Love Song for a wounded warrior” which we have written about Colin’s life – a story of sorrow, humour, frustration, anger, joy and thanksgiving!

We offer this story to the world, even though I am full of trepidation – it feels like a very personal story to share. Yet I am also relieved to finally be able to fulfil Colin’s wishes and tell his story, and I pray that through this story, others might be encouraged – especially family and carers of veterans and people with disabilities, who can find that their road often looks bleak and rocky.

The things that helped us on our journey were God, prayer and encouragement, family and friends, music, forgiveness, understanding, medicine, oases of care of the way, and the knowledge that God never forgot us. These things were often all intertwined. PTSD symptoms added to the melee, and added an additional layer of confuson to deal with.

The booklaunch will be on the 24th of June on zoom, and I am prayeful that these writings might do some good- to encourage another family to persevere, to remind people that every story is significant, to raise awareness of issues for veterans, people with epilespy and their families, and to raise funds for charity. All proceeds from this book go to Epilepsy Connections, and the Coming Home centre in Govan. More to come on this…….

A prayer – Dear God, the bible is a book of stories of ordinary people

Who placed their trust in You, who made mistakes, who struggled, who fell down, and then stood back up,

Help us to reflect on our own story, to notice all You have done, and to be thankful,

Help us listen attentively and tenderly to each other’s stories, with prayer and deep care,

As You have called us, Amen.