Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties

Posts tagged ‘#writing’

Letting God build the ministry.

In January 2014 I wrote this post “ASC What’s That?”  about starting up my own business in supporting children with Autism in schools.   Part of my motivation was to get out of a stifling education system that crushed my ideas and creativity and give myself space to get involved in disability ministry more and more.  I was crushed, but not defeated; demoralised, but not without hope. I stepped out from all the pressure and condemnation into a world where all I had was a lot of ideas, buckets of enthusiasm and a need to start earning a wage very quickly.

My company – Reachout ASC

I hit the ground running and have hardly stopped for breath since.  I have learned how to actually think like a business, had a website made and am supporting nearly 20 schools regularly with over 500 people having attended training that I have delivered.  Not only to schools but family support charities, churches and a children’s work conference in sunny Eastbourne.   I was so keen to bring my ministry and work life together so that I could feel fully ‘me’ in all that I do.

I have been really encouraged by a Lou Fellingham song Build this House (listen here).  It says  “Unless you build this house, I am building it in vain.  Unless the work is yours there is nothing to be gained.”  (C) Lou Fellingham.   In any kind of job and ministry that is starting something, or moving something on, we can only build what God has planned.

Although God seems to be pressing on with things!  As well as my business growing so that I am taking on two more autism specialist teachers so that we can support more schools, I am whizzing around the county talking to Head Teachers, SENCOs, Speech and Language Therapists and teachers about our service and hopefully helping a few more children with Autism and Asperger’s have a successful time in school.   I now have a Facebook page here, full of articles and ideas about autism;  am active in the Twitter education and SEN community; (Follow me here @ReachoutASC ) and I am writing a book about supporting pupils with ASC in secondary schools.   I LOVE MY JOB!

My website! Please have a look.

My website! Please have a look.

I have always had a love of learning.  And I am learning so much that I am able to convert into action in church too.  I have set up a churches tab on my website and will continue to add new resources.

The Good News Group

We continue to run our weekly meeting for the adults with learning disabilities in our community.  We are seeing spiritual growth in so many as we let God lead us in discipling them.  We’ve had a brilliant Puppet workshop from One Way UK and a revamp of our activities during our social time (I think we were all getting a bit bored of the same things) and have just sorted a load of boxes with activities suggested by our members.  We weren’t bothered about age appropriateness when they asked for sensory toys, playdough and duplo!  It’s going to be fun for all of us to play together as adults.  We’ve also got some picture Bible’s to read, Bible colouring and some more crafts, jigsaws and games.   The group is just like I would love church to be for everyone.  Full of joy, love and freindship whatever your abiliity.   However, we have all the issues and trauma’s as any other ministry group might have and have recently had a bereavement.    We are feeling really sad about it, but we have hope in knowing that a lovely, quiet man who loved the Good News Group and liked to pray, is now with our Saviour Jesus.

One Way UK Puppet workshop

One Way UK Puppet workshop

This lady is our jigsaw whizz!

This lady is our jigsaw whizz!

Lancashire Disability Network

The Lancashire Churches Disability Network went really well.  With the support of Tim Wood from Through the Roof, we had over 40 people at our first meeting.  The buzz and enthusiasm was fantastic and we are praying once again….God build this house, or we are building it in vain.  The next meeting is in a couple of weeks and already, one church is making plans to set up their own group for adults with learning disabilities.  People want to find things out, share experiences and learn together.  I AM REALLY EXCITED AND GRATEFUL.  This group has been two years in the praying, planning and waiting.  I have learned some patience…………
I am grateful too for you who have read, shared and supported this blog.  Keep on sharing, commenting and looking where God wants you to build his house.  

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Expectations…

There’s nothing like the chance to be interviewed on the radio to make me quake in my shoes and wonder what I’m doing this for…

But it is good to stop, reflect and think about why I write this blog…and what I expect God might do with it. So my friend did a little interview with me to give me some practice….

Q1. Why did I start to write a blog?

When three of us (Bob, Gill and I) unexpectedly had to take on the leadership of the Good News Group about 3 years ago, I remember writing in my journal “please God, don’t make me do this, I can’t do it, I don’t want to do it.”  Well, it is obvious what God’s answer to that was!  But because we all felt inadequate, it made us pray…and pray…and pray.  One thing we prayed was for God to share his vision for the group with us so that we could have some idea that we we walking in the direction he wanted us to.  The word that came to us was “REACHOUT”.  And so, looking at the way the world works today, I decided to write a blog about what we do and see how it would reach out to others.

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Q2. Why is it called “includedbygrace”?

Grace is a wonderful and amazing gift of God through Jesus Christ. It is grace that accepts and loves us no matter what we have done and grace makes God’s love unchanging and undeserved.  I live in the light of that grace and so do we all.  “Included by grace” means all of us, whether society sees us as acceptable or not, and as inclusion is the focus of what we do, then the name seemed to explain it.

Q3.  What response have you had to your blog?

I expected a few people to follow and comment on the blog but I have been really pleased at how many people do read it.  It’s a thrill when I look at the STATs and see people from all over the world looking at what I have written.  I get a lot of private messages, as well as public comments,  because there are parents and individuals for who church has been really difficult, and their stories help me form what advice and issues I need to add to my blog.

Q4. How is God building this ministry’s ‘Reaching out’?

Being part of the Facebook page for the Additional Needs Alliance has complimented this blog really well and enabled us to build connections with the main Christian disabilty charities.  I now have great links with http://www.prospects.org.ukhttp://www.throughtheroof.orghttp://www.urbansaints.org , our local diocese,  http://www.careforthefamily.org.uk/Family-life/parent-support/parenting-additional-challenges/additional-needs-support,  http://www.churchesforall.org.uk and http://musingsofakidsworker.blogspot.co.uk/ .  As a group we are so encouraged and equipped by these links and love the fact that there is a great network for us all to belong to.  They are ‘Reaching out’ too!

Last year, my blog attracted an enquiry from the writer Sarah Lothian who wrote the article about us that was in this August’s Christianity magazine and locally we have been invited to share what we do and how we do it with a number of different churches and groups.  Here is just a snap shot of some of the ‘reaching out’ we have been doing…

  • Closer work with our sister church, St John’s, who run a monthly group for ALD.
  • Presentation to the Liverpool Disability Network.
  • Talk to over 60 pastoral assistants in our diocese.
  • Article in Christianity magazine.
  • Practical activities with Lancashire Spirituality Network.
  • Visit to support and encourage Kendal Propsects Group.
  • Training and support for a child with autism at a church in Preston.
  • Invited to talk about our Good News Group and inclusive church on Premier Radio (coming soon!)
  • Talks with printers / publishers to print and make our Bible teaching materials available to others.

inclusion

Q5. So what are your expectations for the future?

My husband has a saying, “expect the unexpected” and that is a great thing to keep in mind. This ministry is God’s work and we are just his servants.  I don’t want to put limits on what God wants to do, and I don’t want to impose my plans on His.  I often say how much this ministry is dependent on the fantastic team of people who are committed to serving at the Good News Group every week.  They turn up, pray faithfully and serve with love in their hearts.  (I always say that I am just the ‘gobby’ one who talks about it to everyone!)  The ministry is about including people with learning disabilties in the gospel message, changing their lives through Jesus Christ, and then giving them a place in our church family. As the Bible says; it does not depend on man’s efforts, but on God’s mercy.  So let’s watch this space….

My visit to London is now shaping up nicely.  We’ve mangaed to coordinate the Premier Radio interview, the Christian New Media conference and Award ceromony into one weekend!  I am greatly blessed with funding for my train ticket and accomodation offers and am very grateful to those who have offered and given. All I need to do now is practice my humble acceptance or gracious in defeat face for the award night….hope I don’t cry either way..LOL!

sara-awarded-as-best-child-artist-of-2011--660a8b558e7680a4281f9baa00d1041c1371d33f_galleryimage_gallery

We’re in Christianity Magazine!

Christianity-Magazine-August-2014-Cover_large

We are very excited. The buzz of anticipation has been growing for weeks as we knew it was going to happen! And today it did!
Back in February, Sarah Lothian, journalist and writer, travelled up to attend one of our Good News Group http://wp.me/P2MVJu-6n meetings and interviewed some of our members and serving team.
And now, in the August edition, her 1000 words about our ministry has finally appeared and we couldn’t be more pleased. You can find it here…http://www.premierchristianity.com/Current-Issue

So if you have read this and decided to investigate the link to this blog here are some of my favourite posts that I think give an overview of our passion to teach the Bible to adults with learning disabilities well, to build our members up as disciples of Jesus and contributors to the body of Christ and to deal with some of the difficult issues that this and any ministry might come across.

You can get in touch with comments and questions at includedbygrace@talktalk.net

  1.  _45233302_f238da6b-d622-47fe-9753-72aba54ab2c3I did a series of posts about the different BARRIERS people with learning disabilities can face    “Barriers” http://wp.me/s2MVJu-barriers  “Barriers 2” http://wp.me/p2MVJu-4t  “Barriers 3” http://wp.me/p2MVJu-4C  “Barriers 4”  http://wp.me/p2MVJu-4H  “Barriers 5”  http://wp.me/p2MVJu-8I
  2. IMG_0223 This lead to a couple of posts about how we can communicate well to people with learning disabilities: “A model of God’s communication” http://wp.me/p2MVJu-4U , “Explaining ‘sin'” http://wp.me/p2MVJu-8y
  3. IMG_0214 I’ve done some posts about our teaching the Bible sessions and topics.  From creation to revelation we don’t want to leave out any part of the word (although we haven’t got through all of it yet!!!!)  Judges: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-80  Creation: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-8q  Christmas: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-mb  Noah to Jesus: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-ok  Peter: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-p1
  4. MP900390083 These post cover some of the issues we’ve had to deal with such as discipling, prayer life and discord: “Washing up and a one-legged puppet”  http://wp.me/p2MVJu-bC  “Enabling PLD to be active in prayer”  http://wp.me/p2MVJu-8b  “Age-Appropriateness” http://wp.me/p2MVJu-5e   “Adult’s behaving badly”  http://wp.me/p2MVJu-mD  “Whose choice is it?” http://wp.me/p2MVJu-oP
  5. gold-panning I write a lot.  Here are some articles and stories I have written… “Life’s not fair…Ecclesiastes and Wisdom”  http://wp.me/p2MVJu-p8  “Panning for Gold and being honest with God” http://wp.me/p2MVJu-oF  and finally my short story,  “She danced for Him.”  http://wp.me/p2MVJu-m6

Do take the time to look at some of these, make comments and please do return.  We’d love comments about the article and to know about your stories of working with people with learning disabilities in church too!   We are putting together our teaching materials to publish and share with others so if you are interested in learning about these, get in touch.

God bless you all.

Rejoice in the Lord, good people!
    It is only right for good people to praise him.
Play the lyre and praise the Lord.
    Play the ten-stringed harp for him.
Sing a new song[a] to him.
    Play it well and sing it loud!
The Lord’s word is true,
    and he is faithful in everything he does.
He loves goodness and justice.
    The Lord’s faithful love fills the earth.
The Lord spoke the command, and the world was made.
    The breath from his mouth created everything in the heavens.
He gathered together the water of the sea.
    He put the ocean in its place.
Everyone on earth should fear and respect the Lord.
    All the people in the world should fear him,
because when he speaks, things happen.
    And if he says, “Stop!”—then it stops.[b]
10 The Lord can ruin every decision the nations make.
    He can spoil all their plans.
11 But the Lord’s decisions are good forever.
    His plans are good for generation after generation.
12 Great blessings belong to those who have the Lord as their God!
    He chose them to be his own special people.
13 The Lord looked down from heaven
    and saw all the people.
14 From his high throne he looked down
    at all the people living on earth.
15 He created every person’s mind,
    and he knows what each one is doing.
16 A king is not saved by the power of his army.
    A soldier does not survive by his own great strength.
17 Horses don’t really bring victory in war.
    Their strength cannot help you escape.
18 The Lord watches over his followers,
    those who wait for him to show his faithful love.
19 He saves them from death.
    He gives them strength when they are hungry.
20 So we will wait for the Lord.
    He helps us and protects us.
21 He makes us happy.
    We trust his holy name.
22 Lord, we worship you,
    so show your great love for us.

Psalm 33 – Easy English Version    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+33&version=ERV

Writing Social Stories™ Part 4 (final part)

Part 1 here: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-ng    Part 2 here: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-nj    Part 3 here: http://wp.me/p2MVJu-nv

Part 4 : How to present a Social Story™.
There are important factors to take into account when you have gathered your information and drafted a story – the age and ability of the child and how much text they can cope with.
With all ages – short sentences work best.

1. For very young or non-reading children the pictures in a story become the main access point for them into the story. You may only need one idea / sentence per page and the text becomes the script for the adult reading the story (so that you say the same thing each time you read it.)  For illustration, photos work best.  These pages would be arranged as a book so one page can be read at a time.

Going to Playgroup     going home!

2. For older children – it is better to space out the text, use pictures or symbols that support the text well.   This is where I might use symbols such as Communicate in Print from Widgit  http://www.widgit.com or Boardmaker but google and clipart, as long as they are meaningful to the child are good too.

Doctors

Spiders

3. For teens and very able children – the visuals can still be very important but they need to be appropriate. At this stage the key is to CHUNK the information – and I often use boxes around chunks of text as well as pictures to separate the paragraph.

Doing a test

 

Once you have the story written – read it and read it again. Check it sounds clear, literal and that the child has something positive to do or learn…and then you are ready for reading it to the child. Add some reference to the child’s favourite things if you can.  In fact one of my most recent successful Social Stories was based on an Arsenal player and how he kept his kit tidy in the changing room! We wanted the child to do the same and he responded straight away…he really wanted to be like his favourite player!

Introduce it when things are calm and quiet. Read it with the child in a place they can feel calm and stay still. Read it regularly and if the child is not interested try again but don’t show any anxiety and maybe link it to a favoured activity afterwards.

If you have done your research, written it carefully and written it in a form that is accessible to the child – then usually the child will engage with it. Don’t force anything. It will work if it will work. I will confess, I find them more successful with children in juniors and high school than I do with younger children but I have used them for all ages. The key is to pitch it right for the child’s interests and level of understanding.

I have had many successes with Social Stories™. From encouraging a child to reduce nose picking to helping a child deal with the death and funeral of his dad, they are extremely versatile, positive and effective resources.

Finally – here are a couple of examples of real stories that really helped.  (Due to my rubbish tech skills I haven’t added all the symbols I used to a general picture. If you were to write a similar story then you would use maybe more pictures or symbols that were meaningful to your child.)

Travelling in the car

seatbelt

When I am going somewhere, sometimes I have to travel in the car.

My mum or dad will be driving and I will sit in one of the passenger seats.

When I get into the car I will sit in my seat and fasten the seatbelt around me.

This will keep my body safe. It is good to wear a seatbelt.

I will sit in my seat with my seatbelt on until we get to where we are going and my mum or dad says

“Katy you can get out now.”

I can read my book or play on my Ipad until we get to where we are going.

It is good to be safe in the car. I will try to be quiet while my mum or dad is driving.

Then they can concentrate on driving safely and this will make them happy.

Mum and dad will be pleased with me if I try to stay quiet and calm and keep my seatbelt on.

Saying Goodbye to my Dad.

My name is_______. I am________.   I go to ___________ Primary School.

My grandad was very poorly and now he has gone to heaven. This means he is in a very good place where we can’t see him any more.

We will have a special day where my family and my dad’s friends can say goodbye to my grandad. This is called a funeral.

People will come to my house. My grandad had a lot of friends so there may be a lot of people, like at the party.

This is what will happen on that day

First

Then

Then

Finally

On this special day there will be a special box with flowers on to help us remember my grandad.   There will be a photograph of my grandad on the box.

People might feel sad and might cry. This is ok.   If I feel sad I can

If my mum is sad other people will help her. I could give her a hug. She would like that.

When the special Goodbye ceremony is finished my family will be my mum, my dad, me and my brother. We will be able to talk about my grandad but he will not be with us each day. We can remember him by looking at photos and talking about the things we did with him. This will be good and help us all feel better.

Afterwards some things will stay the same like –

Some things will be different like –

I can remember that at school I can talk to my teachers about how I am feeling. They will help me talk about what makes me sad and help me feel better.   This is really good.

 

 

 

She danced for Him.

A short story by Lynn McCann

ballroom_deeppink18-700x700

 

Susie didn’t like getting up that morning. It was cold and Ken was cross with her. She refused to get out of bed and short of pushing her out, there was nothing Ken could do.

By lunch time she was very hungry so she made her way in her pyjamas to the dining hall. Susie put on her fiercest face so none of the staff would challenge her to get dressed. She didn’t even like the thing called shepherds pie that they gave her but she ate, one mouthful at a time until it was cold and everyone else had left the room.

Susie didn’t like going to the lounge. Usually Ken or Sandra would try to make her join in something. Mostly she didn’t understand what they were saying and whatever they put in front of her, usually a piece of board with numbers or writing on it made Susie want to throw it across the room. She was getting good at aiming for certain people who might have annoyed her sometime. They stopped asking her to join in eventually. Susie preferred to sit in her room watching Strictly Come Dancing, over and over again.

It wasn’t Susie’s fault that she punched Kevin that day. He came far too close and she was fed up of him trying to touch her boobs. But Ken and Sandra hadn’t noticed that. As she watched Kevin fall to the floor in slow motion, the staff bounded across the room like superheroes blocking the baddie’s escape and holding Susie’s arms so tightly behind her back that the pain rushed into her head and screamed.

Susie couldn’t remember screaming hysterically or biting Sandra, but she could remember the way they pushed her to the floor and pinned her down. Susie might have been small and round but Susie knew what danger was and she was going to fight it. She was exhausted from the writhing, kicking and convulsing as they carried her to the punishment room. They didn’t even change her. She sat in her damp clothes, staring at the blank wall and retreated into Strictly Come Dancing land where Susie could dance in the pink sequinned dress she had always dreamed of.

Susie didn’t know why they came to get her. It wasn’t even night time. Sandra hissed at her to stop humming and Ken told her to behave for the visitor. Susie was too tired to fight but she wondered what visitor would ask for her especially and whether he would mind that she stank of pee.

Susie shuffled into the lounge and Ken and Sandra ushered her to one of the empty chairs at the back. Then they left her alone. The room was full. Everyone from every ward seemed to be there. No-one seemed to have noticed that she came in, their whole attention was focussed on the Man stood at the front of the room. Only he wasn’t stood still, he began to move towards the people sat at the front, touching each one and whispering to them. Susie wasn’t going to look but she found herself desperately wanting to hear what he was saying…and desperately wanting that look each person he touched displayed on their face.

The room began to buzz with humming, singing, laughter and conversation as the Man walked up and down the rows, missing no-one out. Susie was the last person, sat apart from everyone else.

She found herself unable to look at Him. She felt bad for all the times she’d hit out lost her temper. She felt dirty because she had wet herself and he smelled so lovely. Susie felt sure he wouldn’t speak to her. When she was bad, no-one did.

Susie, would you dance with me?”

In shock she looked up at the kindest most beautiful face she had ever seen. It was as if stars burst out of his eyes and the whole world was etched on his face. Without taking her eyes from His she nodded and He took her hands gently in His. Together they glided towards the front of the room and suddenly there was music. Susie felt as though a waterfall came down from heaven and washed her dirty, smelly clothes away and replaced them with a pink sparkly ball gown that swished and bobbed gracefully as she danced across the floor with the Man.

Susie, will you follow me?” He whispered in her ear.

Yes!” she squealed with delight, “I will.”

Will you teach others to follow me too?”

Me?”

Show them how I danced with you, tell them I AM JESUS.”

The hospital found her a place to live, a lovely home with friendly house-mates and kind staff who take her to the dance school every week. Susie still dances for Him. And at the end of her dance she tells the audience how Jesus came to dance with her. People are amazed at her peace and joy.

 

This short story was inspired by a conversation I had with my brother about an old ‘mental hospital’ (that’s what it was know as) in our county that I had once visited as a student and he had once worked at. The way that people with learning disabilities were shut away and treated was quite appalling at times and we were both thankful that the old hospital had been closed and the residents moved into group homes in the community. My brother told me that patients were sometimes locked in the toilet, naked or in their wet clothes for the whole day as a punishment for needing more than one incontinent pad a day. I just wanted to remember that Jesus cared for those people too and what might have happened if he had visited it for one day.

 

Non Sibi Sed Aliis – not for myself but for others….

 

What if we accepted criticism and did something about it?

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No-one likes being criticised or told off.

We don’t like being told we don’t measure up, meet the standards or that we have failed.

The problems in our society have roots in our individualisation of people. We are told we can do anything we want, if it feels right then do it, and that we are all valuable, special and have rights.

But what happens when you live by your feelings is that if you don’t feel like it then you don’t do it or don’t put in any effort to do it well. If we feel hurt then we think the person who has hurt our feelings must be in the wrong. We think it is what matters to us is more important than what happens for the good of others.

A local school has a motto “Non Sibi Sed Aliis” which means not for myself but for others.

When we are criticised, told off or disciplined so many people get cross, indignant and defensive. The cry of children “it wasn’t me, it wasn’t my fault” has become the mantra of adults in the workplace, in the home and in society at large.

Defending ourselves and being indignant takes up a lot of time and energy. It causes us stress and leads to complaining and gossiping. It takes up an awful lot of our time, preparing argument, reasons for why it isn’t our fault and counter criticisms that we can throw back at others. We become anxious, ill and tired. We don’t feel valued and can constantly feel under threat.

It happens in families, between friends, in the workplace, in government…and in our places of worship.

How many people have left marriages, families, jobs, churches because they feel that they can’t take the criticism, that they are being unfairly treated, overlooked, persecuted?

Our obsession with defending ourselves at all cost means it becomes difficult to sort out the real unfair criticism and bullying from the truth that our actions are not up to standard or helpful to others. (And I am not talking about that kind of criticism in this post) Or maybe we are the one who criticises and judges others? Maybe we are fed up of others being defensive and negative at whatever we say to them? Maybe we judge others so harshly that if they don’t measure up to our expectations we think they are useless, worthless and we don’t want to know them any more?

Non Sibi Sed Aliis – not for myself but for others….

Nurse Holding Elderly Patient's Hand

One simple but possibly impossible solution is for us to develop a culture where it is okay to fail…but not to give up.

This means thinking of the greater good and accepting criticism…and that it is okay. Even writing this makes me take in my breath. I have been subject to criticism a lot in my job and in my marriage, as a parent and as a part of my church…but actually…often this criticism has been correct. I don’t always meet the standards expected of me at work. I am sometimes unfair to my family and fail in my parenting techniques. I do say the wrong thing to people and let them down, I also judge others and criticise them with the same criticisms leveled at me…don’t you?

And still I HATE being criticised. I often think it is being unfair and that I have a good defense. But really, if I think about it, mostly the person telling me off loves or respects me and is just pointing something out that is harming them or myself and our relationship.

Non Sibi Sed Aliis – not for myself but for others….

There is a lot of unfairness in our world today. Some people are cruel, nasty and bullies and they must be stopped. However, not all that is said to us is cruel and nasty. We need to learn to discern what is being said to us and not be afraid of negative feedback. In reality THIS is what makes us better. Comments about my attitude to men made me a better wife and woman. Comments about my teaching made me a better teacher. Comments about the way I spoke to my children made me a better parent. Comments about my book has made me write a much better one. I hated every single negative comment, (in fact some threatened to lead me into deep depression) but learning to take a step back, lay aside the negative emotions and really think about what was being said – has helped me learn new ways of doing things and new ways of being a better person for the sake of others on the receiving end of my relationships. (By the way, there is still a long way to go…we are ALL works in progress!)

Non Sibi Sed Aliis – not for myself but for others….

photo from office.microsoft.com/en-gb/images/

photo from office.microsoft.com/en-gb/images/

As a Christian there is a very important foundation we have for all of this. Jesus offered us life not based on our performance and measuring up to any standards. He fulfilled perfection for us and then died and was raised to life so that we could be given forgiveness and perfection as a gift. He sees believers who have accepted this life as already perfect…we am able to feel secure in his grace (undeserved gift) and then grow into who he is making us to be. Often that does come through discipline – we need to have it pointed out to us where we’re going wrong so we can agree with him (repentance) and let him help us put it right. The book of James in the Bible is really helpful (you can find it online here… http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+1&version=NIV ) God disciplines us because he loves us.

I imagine a society that feels secure enough to take criticism and uses it to grow. This society would have community not individualism at it’s heart. I imagine leaders who are kind but truthful and support their workers to accept constructive criticism and learn from it and who model how to do this by being able to take, learn and grow from the criticisms given to them. I imagine less stress, people less defensive and humble enough to accept that they are not always right but that it is okay. I imagine a society where we fail, learn from it and don’t give up, blame others, attack others to take the focus off ourselves or run away. I imagine that divorce courts are quieter, families are stronger, children are better behaved, communities work together and going to work is more fulfilling. I imagine more courteous drivers even! I imagine a society where people are less stressed and smile at strangers, and maybe is a lot safer.

Difficult, yes…impossible, no. Here’s my prayer for you…

Dear Father,

May the persons reading this feel secure enough to understand that negative feedback can help us grow into better people. Thank you that we can know this security in your love for us and that knowing Jesus died for us can take away all the need we have to live up to others expectations for our innate value. Help us begin today to think before we react to criticism, find the truth in it and respond appropriately. If that means apologising and changing something we do, then let us have the grace to change and grow.

Thank you Lord

Amen

A day in the life of a writer.

Pad of Paper & Pen

Me..a writer?

I became a member of the Association of Christian Writers this year as I work hard at writing my blog, a children’s novel and various other bits and pieces. I write lots of training materials about autism and have started to write talks for the Good News Group.  In joining a writers group I was eager to make links and learn from other writers…and the group has been brilliant for that – and for the occasional good on-line laugh!

It was a big step in acknowledging that I was a ‘writer’… a curious label that I have struggled attaching myself to!

So armed with a bit of reckless enthusiasm I entered their 500 word competition “A Day in the life of a Writer” just for the experience and then attended a writers day in Birmingham.  (which was brilliant).  I can’t say how surprised I was to listen to the competition results and realise that I had been HIGHLY COMMENDED!

So, because other writers have been posting their competition entries on their blogs, I thought I would do the same…helps me get over some of my fear of having people actually read what I write!!!!!!

So here it is…..

 

The duvet suspends me in its warm and loving arms. I shiver in the cold winter air. The writer inside me shouts at the duvet to let me go. I could lay my laptop on its soft downy folds and write in bed for a while, but then I remember…no luxurious writing day for me…I have a regular job too. If I’m lucky and have woken up early, I steal a few precious moments reading my Bible and praying for the day.

 

Up – I’m dressed and wave goodbye to the family as we go our separate ways. I drive through the darkness and the rain on a thronging motorway, my mind playing out a scene in my novel. Arriving at work, I start to write. My pen or keyboard never lays still. Occasionally I get to teach and I love the time with the extra special kids. Afterwards I am visiting other teachers, writing notes, writing advice, writing reports and writing social stories. I am no longer cold as the rain subsides and the first rays of sunshine peer through the clouds.

 

Passion, that’s what drives me, keeps me watching, asking, listening and explaining. I want others to be able to support those kids really well…and I help them by more writing. Courses written and delivered; I love to tell stories of real kids and real teachers as I explore the lives and support we can give those with ASD. And now the sunbeams shine through the window bringing hope and laughter as people see a way through the fog and feel there is something they can try. They understand because of my words.

 

 

My stories take shape as I drive home and as I make the tea for my family. Precious time to gently thank God for wisdom that came just in time, for patience and for answered prayer. I thank him for imagination and energy, my heart singing with joy in HIS creativity – a gift to his creation. I thank him too for the difficult days when no words come, when others reject what I write…and I keep writing, for it is a fire in my very being that cannot be quenched. Faith spurs me on. I write because it has been given me to do.

 

As the sun sets, gloriously crimson from my kitchen window, I write some more, a few hundred words of my latest story. My mind escapes from the problems of the day and enters into a new world which invents and weaves its way through the world of someone I’ve created, here on my page. Out pours my love of Jesus through my imagination. Made in his image the Bible says – a creative God and a creative creature.

 

Darkness compels me back to my duvet. Its soft folds envelop me once more and I enter the land of dreams…where once more…I write.

 

 

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