Life update

The theme I keep returning to for this week’s blog is to give you all an update on my life – or more accurately – on the progress of one of my current projects. Part of the healing work going on in me, is to recognise that, just as I am very interested in the actual lives behind all you wonderful bloggers and readers of mine, so also might you be interested not just in the random thoughts I scribble down from week to week, but you may also like to know something about me. If I am wrong, you can ignore this blog.

Since January of this year, 2021, I have been writing a book about the strategies and processing tools I found helpful in the task of finding the voice of my wounded inner child. The first section of the book explains why and how I did it and the impact it had. The second section contains excerpts from the writing during the main strategies I used to hear the silent inner child. I called my wounded inner child Suzie. The strategies I used have given Suzie a voice to express her long-buried trauma and her dreams, disappointments and emotions. It has not been an easy journey, but it has been necessary and hugely transformative. My dream was to share those strategies and processing tools to help others to deal with trauma, with hidden issues, and to come to a place of acceptance. Having heard my hidden child’s voice, I have been able to bring her pain and fear to the Lord, for healing. Confessing one’s emotions, one’s story to oneself is powerful! Confessing it to another safe person and receiving acceptance and validation – being really heard – is powerful and healing. Pouring out one’s heart and confessing to God, is powerful, transformative and brings wholeness. It is still transformative for me – it is a journey I am still on and there is more work to do. It is a healing of relationship – me with Suzie, with memories, as well as me with God and with others.

Section Two contains some of Suzie’s story, but Section One explains the why and how of it. This first section I have written, rewritten and rewritten again. I have written it in my own level of understanding of what the process has meant to me. Now I am holding my breath as it is being read by four people. One is a very close friend who is a psychotherapist and who will be writing a Foreword for my book, to explain my processing in the language of a therapist. My youngest son is reading it, with a view to illustrating some aspects of the story. Two friends are also reading it to provide me with some more general feedback, before I do the final edit and look for a publisher.

This is little me, an image of the hidden Suzie.

Obviously I am continually consulting God about these next steps towards publishing, as the whole process and all of it belongs to Him. He asks us to comfort and bless others with the comfort and blessing we receive from Him. This is the aim of the book – to share the great blessings and healing I have received. He is the Author and finisher of my faith; He is my healer; He is my wisdom and understanding; He knew me when I was hidden, mute and hurting and He was with me. He knows every thought before I do and He knows when I lie down and when I rise… and do you know, He cares! He knows my story, my thoughts and my deeds, and He still loves me and cares for me, as His own precious daughter.

You are the other child He knows and loves so deeply.

Jubilation for July

“Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

This scripture has spoken to me for a while now and is quite sufficient for direction when I am looking for answers and guidance. Carrying one another’s burdens is very practical and you will know what you can and cannot do, but we can always carry each others burdens to the Lord. Cast all your care upon me, He says.

The burdens and cares that the Lord lifted from my loved ones during July, for which I rejoice, are these:

Healthy birth of baby K.

That D’s back has remained strong and healed since hands laid on at the end of May.

That J’s surgery successful and is back home full of praise and with a new song.

For a blessed family holiday together with grandchildren.

For J’s A for his dissertation and that he is settled, fully-funded PHD ahead and finally in a very good place.

That J got a place on the course he wanted.

That I managed to speak to an authority in the park and safety was ensured and a duckling rescued!

That L secured herself a job she wanted.

That I has had a very good month and is feeling strong.

That Z and L both got 1st-class degrees.

That some wanderers returned and newcomers to AA.

That eased restrictions saw 50 back in church at end of July, with opening plans moving forward.

That our pre-school’s Ofsted visit was favourable and the venue got the necessary ‘all clear’.

Lord, for all those specific answers to spoken prayers I praise and thank You. I thank and praise You also for all the answers to unspoken prayers of the heart and for your interventions that I haven’t noticed or have taken for granted. Thank You for Your constant presence and Your faithfulness.

Another verse has challenged me during July – it grabbed my attention as it mentions the importance of “speaking out” and I have been on that theme for a few months now. These are the words of Jesus Himself, and so I say an enthusiastic and desperately excited Amen to the words, but there is part of my heart that doubts my own faith. This verse is:

“Everything you pray for with the fullness of faith you will receive… if you do not doubt God’s power and speak out of faith’s fullness.” (Matthew 21:21)

Sometimes doubt does hold me back from speaking out a faith-filled prayer even, but when I over-ride the doubts and speak out a prayer, faith floods my shaky heart and I receive God’s peace.

I’m reminded of the friends who carried the ‘paralysed man’ to Jesus… I often imagine them questioning their actions – such audacious perseverance, taking the roof off, pushing their way in, what a cheek! What if Jesus is too busy, not interested or won’t do it? But they stood in the gap for their friend, they persevered and they pushed through until Jesus healed their friend.

So keep believing for your family, neighbours and friends; keep standing in the gap for them, bringing them to Jesus with the faith He gave to you. Keep believing that after night, the morning will come; after the drought, the rains will come and there will be a harvest. Be ready to gather the harvest and to rejoice with the harvesters.

rejoicing in the harvest.

Putting It On — Let’s Practice!

Please listen to Feeding on Jesus’ powerful audio message, taking us step by step through receiving and putting on the mighty armour and protection of God.

Feeding On Jesus

It’s audio devo day!

I was under the impression that we were done with The Armor of Light series last Friday… but I was wrong! Holy Spirit began to stir my heart with one more episode on this topic after I released that last one. Today, our audio devo is a special edition for the exclusive purpose of practicing together – practicing the art of putting on the full armor of God.

Do you remember the intro to this series? We started out meditating on this verse that prefaces our Ephesians 6 instructions about suiting up with God’s armor: “…Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (v. 10, NKJV). Putting on the armor is about putting on His strength. God does not command us to be strong in our own power, but rather to be strong in His. As we put on each piece, we…

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Maupassant’s Short Stories – YouTube

I feel the need to offer a short story of my own – as a keen student of language and literature, I grew to love particular authors that I studied for O Level and A Level French and German. St Exupéry, Molière and Guy de Maupassant were amongst my favourite of the French authors and I particularly enjoyed Maupassant’s ‘quinze contes’ (Fifteen Tales). About 10 years ago I discovered an English translation of 30 selected ‘tales’, smiling at me in a quaint old bookshop in Eton. Of course I bought it and began to read the stories to a friend during his time of convalescence. We both enjoyed the experience, so now they are produced for you to enjoy too.

I will begin with these three that I recorded over a year ago and, if you enjoy them, I will record some more afresh. Maupassant’s short stories are to be told aloud; they are risqué, witty, fresh, cheeky and full of humanity.

This was an unrehearsed recording and is a bit of fun, so the accent fluctuates widely and embarrassingly at times, but I hope you enjoy the story and the paintings from a similar era.
Grave importunity or willing deception?
desperate misadventure!

(Sorry about the images that rendered out of sync.)

Do tell me which ones you enjoy.

Single-parent families

Last week I told a story about how speaking out saved a duckling and potentially saved other accidents… the previous week I spoke about violence, especially violence against women. There is a theme on my heart that I seem to be skirting around, but it could be expressed as concern for the ‘orphans and widows’ – often the weak, the vulnerable, those who have nobody else to speak up on their behalf. There are many vulnerable groups, but I want to focus on these.

Orphans and widows, according to Scripture, are very much a priority on God’s heart and God exhorts us over and again to look after them… God says He hears their cries. They are still real and visible in our society and yet for whatever reasons, we often do not see them. In many ways in modern Europe, aside from actual widows and orphans, single-parent families can also be placed in the category of orphans and widows – for whilst the other parent may still be living (and therefore those left behind are not orphans and widows in the strictest sense), they share the same burdens of societal shame and of practical and financial stress. As with orphans and widows, there is a sense of the woman and children being left without protection, without emotional, practical and financial support, etc.; often without respite from caring, or time at all for oneself, partly because living as extended families is no longer the norm. Often they are also heart-broken and suffering a sense of bereavement and loss too. I say woman, because it is most often the single mum, though increasingly it is the father, who takes custody of the children and sometimes it is a grandparent… In many Western countries there is some financial support for single-parent families, but the rest of their needs often remain invisible to society. I also know that there are many couples who struggle in their lives together, those with children and those without. I’m not saying that couples who stay together with their children have no needs, because I know that they do. I myself, as a child, often wished that my father would leave my mother, or vice-versa, but he never did and she never did. But in this piece of writing, I want to focus on the needs of single parents, who are most often, but not always, mums.

I would like us to draw our attention to these unseen, and frequently therefore, unmet needs. I think of this because I get it. I have been there for many years. And I see both sides. For the single parent, one of the unseen needs is for adult company, friendship and emotional support. In many ways, single unmarried women also share many of the challenges that I highlight here. There is nobody to come home to and to share ones joys, delights, burdens and stresses. Nobody. Nobody for whom you are that one special person. Nobody who shares that love and concern you have for your children. I particularly want to point out one phenomenon that may never have occurred to someone who has never experienced being single, but is very real to those that are – and that is that one is very rarely invited out – even by friends or by church family.

We have arranged an evening dinner for friends – for him and her, Mr and Mrs, this couple and that couple, but what do we do about you as a single parent? There are obvious reasons of course – you’d probably have to arrange a babysitter for the children or some other childcare? Or maybe you’d feel like a gooseberry, if everyone else is in couples? Or maybe you are always tired by 8pm, having had the children since 6am? Or maybe it’s awkward when everyone else is in couples – who would you be seated with? Would we have to do some ‘match-making’? And we wouldn’t want the children to come, it’s not suitable…. And we’ve never been invited to dinner at yours! Perhaps there are also deeper issues that we are not prepared to address? Maybe there’s a fear that there’s something wrong with you – after all, one of you in the couple walked out? Who’s fault was it really? It takes two to tango! Do you have commitment issues? Can you be trusted? You may have emotional needs and other needs we are not prepared or equipped to meet? What if you break-down and talk all night about your problems? Or maybe you want to steal one of our husbands? Of course we don’t really think that… not out loud, anyway!

When I lived in London, as a single mother for my two young boys, I was introduced to a ministry called ‘CHEER’ set up by a wonderful single mum, Cherie Coleman, who gets it. Once a month on a Saturday, me and the boys travelled across London to what they looked forward to as their “Party Church”, where they were greeted enthusiastically by a fabulous group of people who gave them an amazing few hours of fun, food, toys and love. Us single mums were taken for a fantastic breakfast, were treated like special, trusted friends, were led in a time of worship, with freedom and time to pray for one another. There was usually a speaker to inspire us on some issues that one encounters when raising children as a single parent , but often we also just told our own stories – and people listened, they cared, they didn’t judge… because they get it! They had empathy, most of them, but others were there to help and to serve, because they had compassion and the cause of modern-day orphans and widows had been placed on their hearts. One of the single mums back then now also is a married woman and a pastor and runs a similar group in North London – Fresh Start Single Parents Ministry. She picked up the baton and has gone on to serve the needs of other single parents in her neighbourhood.

Are we aware of the single parents in our neighbourhood and in our church – even in our own families? Do we pray for them? Are we aware of their needs, but also of their talents, giftings and passions. Do we trust them, accept them and make provision and allowance for them to join in, or do we sub-consciously discriminate against them? Do we step up on behalf of their children and be family, be healthy role models to them? Do we pray for all of our families, no matter what shape they are?

Bear them in mind.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

Rescue the ducklings?

There’s a theme going on for me at the moment and experience tells me therefore to listen to what wisdom is saying.

Have you ever had the experience of discovering something that you were not aware of before, but then suddenly, now you have noticed it, it pops up everywhere? Suddenly it’s in the shops, the books you read and comes up in conversations… It was always there of course, but the thing that has changed is your awareness of it.

I’m going to express some of the themes arising for me, through these blogs, as I did last week. Some of the thought processing is still a little jumbled.

First I need to tell you a little story:

About 5 weeks ago, I took my grandchildren for an afternoon in a large country park that I love. We were 2 adults and 2 infants – a two-year old and a four-year old. At one point, after already over 2 hours playing with sticks and rocks beside the lake as we meandered around it, we came across a small tributary to the lake, that feeds in from the marina; this part is called ‘the Sweetener’ and has a metal grill over the bit of water closest to the grass. I went with the four-year old to look at the algae and insects through the grill, noticing a gap of about a foot between the 2 grill coverings… suddenly my grandson jumped into the gap, thinking that the lush-green algae was grass! He disappeared under the water! Of course I fell to my knees, reached into the water and grabbed him and pulled him out and he was shaken and wet, but was fine, thanks be to God. Later the images began to haunt me of what could have happened if I had not been at his side and not seen where he had gone… I discovered that dogs and rabbits are frequently having to be rescued from that patch of water, also mistaking the algae for grass. I knew that I needed to speak up and say something to prevent further disasters, but to whom? Looking on websites and speaking to others I decided to contact the council – I did this, as directed, by email and by phone, but was not satisfied that it would get any further than an in-tray or locked away in a file. So I found a number for the park and eventually spoke to a person who managed the park and he told me all about what the Sweetener was for and said he would go right-away to assess the health and safety of the area in light of my report. This made me feel much better and like I had done all I could to prevent further accidents. Two weeks later I walked the park again, only to discover that nothing had been done at all – it was still exactly the same. Last week I returned to the park and saw a patrol car with a pair of community officers in it by the lake and it occurred to me to report the issue to them and ask them to look at it with me. They were from the Council, so I felt very foolish doing this and every part of me rose up to dissuade me from saying anything, but I marched over to the car and told them the story. They drove round to the spot and I walked over and spoke with them there. There was a little duckling trapped under the first grill nearest the grass… clearly he had bobbed under the water for a snack, popped up on the wrong side and was unable to get back to his mother, who was not far away and was watching intently. The poor little duckling was disturbed also by our presence and got his little head stuck through the grill and the officer was trying to poke his beak back through, but feared the duckling had snapped his neck, as he was very still… at this point a small crown had gathered and a lady had a ball-thrower for the dog, which served as a long-handled scoop-spoon and finally the officer freed the duckling’s beak from it’s prison, he popped back up alive, and they used the ball-thrower to scoop the duckling to the side, where the officer grabbed the frightened little thing and tossed him back into the other side to his mother. We all applauded! Then the officer fetched some bright yellow plastic and tied it across the two grills to alert others of the danger for those thinking the algae is grass. He also said he would report the whole thing and his intervention to the warden on his way out. Meanwhile another chap came over and asked “Is this cos of the kid that fell in last year and all the dogs that fall in?” I explained.

As I came away I felt much better. If I had not spoken up, the duckling would not have been rescued from his prison, but I knew that the duckling was a bonus! I have told this story to a few friends who it seems all know a similar story of children and animals mistaking algae for grass. Now I have my own story. Despite feeling stupid, I spoke up, not once, not twice, but until something was done. The rescue of the duckling was a bonus and a lesson to me and to the officer, I believe. I spoke up because I had had an experience that made me aware of the issue. I get it. It’s like that with many issues in life; when we are aware of it we can do something about it. If something had happened that only affected me, I would perhaps have not had the courage to report the incident, but when a loved one is endangered, somehow the courage to protect and speak up to meet the needs of others is found more easily.

It’s not true that other people don’t care about things that some of us struggle with, it’s just that they may not see the problem or solution, they haven’t experienced it and just don’t get it. I will continue this theme. Last week I wrote about violence against women mainly – because I get it – not because I’m not aware or don’t care as much about any other victims of violence, but because, as a girl and a woman, I’ve been there and I get it. I’m not alone in that experience.

I can speak for women who can’t speak. And if I speak, it gives permission for another eventually to say, “Can I tell you my story?”

This brings healing, relationship, compassion, community and hope for change. And it brings joyful surprises – remember the duckling. Look out for the ducklings – the little bonuses as you reach out and speak up for yourself and for others.

Speak up!

“We must speak up and do something”

It won’t come as a surprise to anybody that there is a great deal of injustice in the world. But I am frequently surprised at the extent of it and its insidious, all-pervasive nature. For example, I learned today that, according to United Nations statistics, over the last year, 9 million adolescent girls experienced forced sexual abuse1. That is 9 million girls whose names we don’t know – but what of all those who were too scared or too ashamed to tell? Throughout history, in different shapes and colours, in every corner and under every canopy around the globe, we hear of atrocities perpetrated against other human beings in the name of some exclusive cause or another and we are outraged and shrug; but the abuse and atrocities that occur within our own communities, our work-places, even our churches and our own families, these are the ones we somehow are ignorant of, or choose to remain silent about. Often we don’t really know what is happening. We don’t really want to know, because we don’t like violence, fear, abuse and obscenity and we don’t want to think about it or upset anybody. Also we are scared of the obligation to act if we do acknowledge an injustice and we don’t know what we can do. “We don’t want to get involved.”

Over this past year or so, better late than never, society took note and showed outrage at examples of such injustices. The murders of George Floyd and Sarah Everard were two named representations of the wider, collective experience for millions of women and millions of black people. These two have names that we have taken notice of.

There is so much abuse, discrimination and injustice in our ‘civilised’ society, but in this short article I just want to focus briefly on just some aspect of the domestic abuse. More uncomfortable statistics tell us that EVERY DAY 137 women are KILLED by male family members – husbands, fathers, brothers; but again, these are only those who dared to tell. When it happens in my house, I don’t report it because I am ashamed of my weakness and afraid of repercussions if I should tell. And I don’t tell because you keep telling me its my own fault, I brought it on myself; I’m not good enough and got what I deserved and if I tell, I’ll get what I do deserve. I am wrong and if I tell, nobody will believe me and they will also know how bad I am. We don’t tell, can’t tell; we can’t bring shame on family, can’t bring shame on the company, shame on the church, shame on the government… Can we? 1 in 4 women will be subject to domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime. Are you shocked?

Man, I’m sure you are not one of these abusers, but that woman could be your daughter, your wife, your mother? If so, what can we do for her now? Can we make sure that our churches, our homes and our communities are safe places and a refuge for those abused, lonely and scared for their lives? Are we prepared to help?

Woman, if it happened to you, I’m so sorry! And I understand the pain. Tell your story – first tell yourself and then tell somebody you trust. When we find our authentic voice we can speak up and others can listen, comfort and support; and maybe we can educate others, engage in dialogue and pave the way for others to speak out and make the issues visible, because we are not alone.

There are no simple solutions, but we can listen to one another’s experiences (and those that shock us) and we can listen with love and offer support where possible. We hope that an abused person can escape their abuser, but this is often impossible. Domestic abuse and work-place abuse, bullying, racism, sexism, all other ‘isms’ – these are areas that our churches and schools and councils could speak out against. If you want to find out what the church can to to speak into and change culture and you want to join a conversation addressing violence against women, go to eauk.org/bekahlegg

Do what you can, not what you can’t. If we don’t like the litter we can pick it up and teach our children not to drop it. If we see a danger, or issue, or injustice we can do our homework and research solutions to a problem, we can report it, or solve it, or ask for help. We can engage the media, sign petitions, write a letter, join a campaign, we can pray for victims and bullies, even for our enemies, and we can tell our story, tell another’s story, shout about it from the pulpits. Whilst you have a voice, use it for good – to speak out, to comfort, to encourage, to pray, to raise awareness… We can create a culture, create a church and a community that is safe and inclusive and that does not tolerate injustice, but does give second chances, does forgive and does reflect our God of love and mercy. Speak up about injustice happening to you and around you, tell a friend and start a small support team, pray about it and use whatever is in your hand to be an advocate, a voice and a safe refuge and support for someone who needs you.

I’m reminded of an oft-quoted gut-puncher, by Martin Niemoeller2, speaking of the cowardice of silence and of personal responsibility:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

‘First they came…’ 1946

1eauk.org/bekahlegg

2 Martin Niemöller

The Power of Prayer

As often happens when I write something, I then read a post on the same subject. This beautiful poem by Fay Ann describes some of those other types of prayer very clearly. As she says, “God works when we pray. Things happen when we pray. Things change when we pray, mountains move when we pray, and most important, we change when we pray. Keep praying.”

The Inspirational Room by Fay Ann Swearing

The power of prayer is not the result of the person praying. Rather, the power resides in God who is being prayed to.Prayer opens up a lot of opportunities in our lives. It benefits the mind, body and soul. Prayer gets me through every day, as I ask the Lord to direct my path and guide me along the way.

Below is a poem about the power of prayer. I write it to remind myself and hope it will remind you that prayer is important in our daily lives.

God works when we pray.Things happen when we pray. Things change when we pray, mountains move when we pray, and most important, we change when we pray. Keep praying.

To you reading this, thank you so much for being here. You are special to me and I appreciate you always registering your presence here. May God be with you as you…

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For the Glory of God

“I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask anything in my name and I will do it.” John 14:13-14

We are instructed as followers of Christ to ‘devote ourselves to praying for all the saints’, (Ephesians 6:18) and to ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17). There are so many ways to pray. Richard Foster has written an excellent book, entitled ‘Prayer’ and describing 21 different types of prayer, most of which I’m sure you would be familiar with. In general, my thanksgiving posts such as this focus on just 2 types of prayer – Petitionary Prayer – asking for my own guidance and needs – and Intercessory Prayer – asking for the needs of others. Categories such as this can be helpful, but the truth is that reality is largely grey areas and thanksgiving, adoration, repentance, surrender, prayer of the heart are all part of these prayers too. As Jesus says in the Scripture quoted above, Jesus answers the prayers in His name, so that God the Father is glorified through Christ. Not every answer to prayer is the one we asked for, but we have to trust the outcome of our prayer to Him to whom we pray. It is all for the glory of God, who is good, all the time. I want to give thanks and glory to God for the answers to specific petitionary and intercessory prayers that I witnessed throughout June.

Thank you, Father:-

that M went rehab and joined AA;

that K back in AA and other new-comers made the step;

that A home and declared in remission;

that J had long-awaited operation and is now sitting up and recovering;

that S gone into remission and can now look towards a transplant;

that me able to share holy Spirit words of hope to S and O family;

that S able to share words of hope to E;

for giving me Isaiah 43:1-3;

that A now able to visit her parents and family and all well;

that B in great spirits and hair returning and physio booked and full of hope;

for the 2 poems You gave to me;

for submission of J’s dissertation on time and You acknowledged;

for grace, energy and providence to babysit;

for saving C out of the water;

for all the Christian MPs gathering publicly for the online prayer breakfast for ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.

I do not find it easy to make time for prayer. I realise that usually I am in a privileged position to be able to devote more time to prayer than most. This last week I was away on holiday with four others, including my beloved grandchildren (aged 2 and 4) and taking time out to pray was impossible for me! I do understand. As a friend often reminds me – we have to do what we can, not what we can’t. And so I had to make my acts of service and thoughts my prayer life. Another friend of mine often calls and asks me not to go away and pray for people, but to agree in prayer with her then and there, over the phone, and entrust people and situations to God like that. I write all the requests down, to remind me to pray and to follow up on how those prayers have been answered. Whatever you have time for and in whatever way you can, do what you can to bring the needs of those who come to your heart before our loving God and Father. Be faithful in prayer and see God glorified through the Son. Run the race and don’t give up praying until you see the prayers answered. Don’t give up on anyone you have been praying for, but renew your commitment to see healing, transformation and growth. Bring your requests in confidence in the name of Jesus, who intercedes constantly for those who believe in the name of the Son of God.

running the race for the duration

Do what you can. Bless you.