When he became a she – walking in love

just a jesus follower

walking in love blogThe other day, Zac and I went into a retail store and were greeted by an associate.

I soon recognized the associate as someone I used to go to church with years ago. Someone close to my age, who I had shared many years sitting next to in our small little church.

But, he had changed.

He was now a she.

I could tell my friend recognized me, but didn’t think I would recognize them. They helped me around the store and their hands were shaking almost uncontrollably the entire time.

I knew why.

They were afraid.

Afraid of what I might say if I caught onto who they were.

Afraid of seeing the shocked Christian look of horror on my face.

Afraid of my judgement or God knows what Bible verses I just might hurl at them.

Afraid of being shamed.

And it BROKE MY HEART.

I decided to…

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Living Life

There is an episode of Red Dwarf in which the crew wake up and find that they have been in a virtual reality game and that everything that happened on Red Dwarf was part of the game. As they talk to the technician who is helping them out of the game, they realise that they have been playing it wrong. Instead of having happy, successful lives with all their dreams coming true, they having been living in isolation, struggling through.
Sometimes, I think maybe that is what life is like. At the end of time, you look back on your life and realise that you did it wrong. You wasted too much energy on hate and negativity and missed out on all the joy that was there for the taking.
CS Lewis asked how solid would you be if your life was separated into all the moments of your life and only the moments where you were really you, only those moments where you grew and helped others grow were kept? How much of you would be left if the hate and anger and bitterness were removed? Would there be enough of you? Would you be solid enough? Would you be a ghost?
There was a man who said that he wanted to provide a way for people to live life…fully live it. Not just exist in it and have life happen to them, or have life happen around them but to have live life. To have all of their moments to be moments that would be saved at the end of time.
Sometimes I do things which aren’t me. They aren’t going to be featured in the moments of my life because they have nothing to do with my life. They are the moments when someone else’s life has been imposed onto me or when I have taken their life and prioritised above who I am. I think that I am helping them, I think that I am being supportive but I’m not. I’m not helping them to be them and I’m not being me. No one is benefitting.
Sometimes, it is easier to be someone else. Easier to forget that to be you means fighting against something, someone, everything. Sometimes it is easier for the bits of you that cause problems with the bits of the world to go away.
But there was a man who wanted all of everyone’s moments to be moments when they were fully alive. And he showed us how to do it. How to be fully yourself even when the rest of the world wants you to crumble under the weight of their priorities. Even when you feel buried under all the other things you think you should or ought to be.
Bad things will happen. Good things will happen. But to be you in all situations is living.

Sugar and Spice and Puppy dog tails

transgender20sign

Girls like dolls. Boys like football. Boys get muddy. Girls wear make up. From before birth the choices that a child will have, the expectations of what they will do and the opportunities a child will have is already limited by society’s understanding of what is right, what is acceptable and what is possible for children who are defined as female and those who are defined as male.

These definitions change over time and vary from culture to culture. There was a time when pink was seen as a boy’s colour and blue was seen as a girl’s colour. There are cultures where cooking is seen as the duty of men and women are not allowed in the kitchen.

People claim that there are inherent gender differences which is the reason for differences in gender roles. However, most gender differences are socially constructed.

The choices that we make and the decisions that we make in life are based on the expectations of other people.

The decision to stop binary definitions of gender is one that says ‘do not define me by your views of gender’, it says ‘my decisions, my life choices reflect me, not my gender’.

The decision to stop binary definitions of gender is one that does not give genders to items of clothing, job roles or issues. Dresses and skirts are just dresses and skirts. Science is open to all. Women’s issues are issues for all of humanity.

 

 

 

 

 

What if I stumble

At work, we have hot desks which means that although we mostly sit in the same sort of area we don’t have an allocated desk. This is because we are in and out of the office so often that it doesn’t make sense for us to have allocated desks. I am based in one location for four days a week and another for one day a week and then I do visits throughout the day with some occasions hours/days at the third office base.
Because of this there are some people we may only work nearby once or twice a week. There is one woman who sits near me about once a week, but not always. One time I was debating with another colleague – one who I sit by regularly. I won the debate and my colleague said ‘will there ever be a time when I argue with you and win?’ I responded that I only got involved in arguments if I could win. The woman laughed and explained that the last time she had sat near me I had said the same thing to someone else.
I suppose it is something I do throughout my life – I am successful in things because I do them knowing that I will be successful in them. I am currently undertaking a masters with the open university in childhood and youth studies. I’ve had no problems with the modules directly related to working with children and young people, however, really struggled with the unexpectedly not children focussed module about continued professional development.
I know that I am excellent at working with children and young people. I am able to build relationships quickly, take an interest, remember things and challenge behaviour. I have studied and have the relevant book knowledge. I have no doubt in my ability to work with children and young people in a variety of situations.
However, I have no idea what my abilities are. I don’t know how it is that I build relationships quickly. I don’t know what it is in me that means that when I took a week off work a young person refused to talk to any of my colleagues and instead, waited for me to return. I don’t know what I’m doing.
Perhaps, that is the reason why I found the module on continued professional development difficult. How can I develop myself as a professional if I can’t reflect on what I do? How can I develop strategies when my most successful experiences seem to have come out of nowhere? How can I continue if I don’t know where it is that I have started?
When I was a teenager some WEC missionaries visited my church and were involved in the youth club that I was volunteering at. They were shocked to find out I was only 15/16 and said that I should consider a gap year with WEC when I was 18. I think it was the first time that I realised that maybe what I was doing was something, was a skill, a talent, a thing.
In some ways I think it is important that I continue to recognise that I have no idea what makes a visit with a young person effective. I have no idea when my words will resonate. In the end, the skills, talents, success isn’t down to me. How can it be when I don’t know what I’m doing? There is something greater at work, something more than me that leads to an easy rapport.
However, that doesn’t mean that I should just walk into visits and hope that whatever it is will do its magic and everything will be ok. I don’t understand how it works so maybe it works better when I have a plan, resources, knowledge. And that is the reason why the boot of my car is full of resources and activities so that I never walk into a visit empty handed – even if I never use them when I’m in there. That is the reason why I put so much effort, research and planning into each visit. To make sure that whatever it is that helps me working with children and young people has the best chance of getting used.
And sometimes it is the game of top trumps or table top bowling that opens discussions, sometimes its a willingness to discuss minecraft, vampires or lego. Sometimes its my nails, my shoes, my hair. Sometimes its nothing, just a case of being in the right place at the right time and being willing to listen.
I think sometimes, it’s saying I don’t know what it is that I’m meant to be doing, I don’t know why I’m here but I’m here and I’m willing to do my best in this situation. I’m in the debate and I don’t join if I can’t win.
There are gifts that are given by God. There are situations that are used by God. There are things that are made sacred by God. It is my responsibility to make sure that the gifts I was given are in the best condition to be used. It is my job to make sure that I have gone into the situation and it is an honour to be able to reveal the sacred to others.

A day in the life

Sometimes people ask me what I do and I talk about working with children and families. This is what I do it’s true, but its really a lot more than that.

This morning, a Tuesday after a bank holiday weekend, I checked my email with some trepidation and was surprised to find that there were no emails that I had to deal with. I thought to myself ‘I’ll give it an hour for all the weekend emails to come in.’ We get an email each evening from the police letting us know the children who have gone missing in the last 24 hours. I wondered if they had sent one over on Monday and I’d receive it as soon as the main email box was checked.

I decided to make a start on the weekly figures for last week – a job that I’m meant to do on the first day of the week but it very rarely gets done. So since I had a bit of a quiet morning I thought I would get it done.

Before I could finish this task a phone call was received from a girl we’d been working with on Friday. She’s 17 and has nowhere to live. She can’t go home because she has bail conditions and there is no other family members who can house her. Over the weekend she was placed in B&B accommodation but she has nowhere to go from midday.

The team I work in runs two services – homeless and missing. Normally, I only work with the missing side but both members of the homeless side were out and not likely to return to the office until about 11.30. So I was asked to start work for this girl which involved contacting family members and then passing the information on to the social work team. Thankfully, my colleagues returned to the office at 10.30 and were able to place her in our emergency teen accommodation before the end of the day.

I then spent some time on updating myself with the cases of the children who are currently reported as missing. One young person had been found and returned to his placement in Wales. I contacted Children’s Services in Wales to request that they undertaken a return home interview. Return home interviews are undertaken to talk about the reasons why a child went missing – were they running away from something or running to something.

There were a number of colleagues off work today and there was a lot of new referrals. I was asked if I could help out on a couple of them. I researched the history of the cases and then sent them for an assessment by social workers.

I received some information about a child who had been reported missing over the weekend. I checked the history, discussed it with a colleague and updated the spreadsheet we use that logs each child missing and what work we have undertaken. The phone numbers we had didn’t work so I sent out a letter.

I had to go to conduct a return home interview. The girl had run away after being grounded. It turned out that the reason for the grounding was more interesting than the running away. I undertook a Child Sexual Exploitation Risk Assessment and then agreed to complete referrals for support services.

The family had a staffordshire type dog who was lovely. I spoke to her and gave her some love. The family had had interventions from Children’s Services before and they were amazed that I didn’t ask for the dog to be removed. The dog was very friendly and very well behaved especially with the 4 year old sibling.

On returning to the office, I made a call to inform the mother of the earlier homeless girl that she was in a safe place.

I completed a spreadsheet task for my manager. She’d been struggling with it for hours. I did it in 20 minutes.

I received the email from the police which said that they had received a high number of referrals over the weekend and they were still dealing with the data. Tomorrow… and the rest of the week, is expected to be busy.

Super Powers

When I watch TV shows where the hero gets a super power and immediately knows they have a superpower and what it does I just find the whole thing totally unbelievable….or maybe people are just smarter than I am.

It took me ages to realise that there was something different about me. I didn’t realise that things were different inside my head to how they were in everyone else’s head. I suppose if I had the ability to set myself on fire or something then I suppose I would have picked up on it quicker.

At first when I heard people’s thoughts I honestly believed that people were talking to me. I’d respond to things they had only thought which led to confusion – both on their side and mine. They’d ask me how I knew things after they’d just told me…except they hadn’t said anything out loud.

Eventually it dawned on me that sometimes, when they were saying things to me their lips weren’t moving. That the things they were saying were not linked to the conversations, that the things they were saying shouldn’t really be said.

I have realised that people can lie to themselves. Sometimes, the things they are saying to themselves are not true, they are not accurate. People do things and lie to themselves saying that it was their only choice. They say things and think things which hurt other people either directly and indirectly and they tell themselves that it’s ok. They watch the news and see the suffering and think that there is nothing they can do.

These are lies people think, lies people believe. I often listen to everyone who thinks they can’t do anything and wonder what would happen if they all got together and worked together and did something together.

Sometimes I think that the systems that we live in work so well because they divide us…they force us to think individually…they split us up and they stop us thinking and working as a community.

Community is where the power lies. Community is how we can do things. If we work together then individuals don’t need superpowers.