What I mean when I say, “I’m tired”

Today I took my two younger children out to a farm park. When I got back I spent an hour painting furniture. Then I cooked our dinner.

Just an ordinary day in the life of a mum, right?

Yup. Except that by dinner-time my arms and legs were trembling with tiredness, and it was all I could do to eat. By the time I’d put my daughter to bed, I was so tired even breathing felt like an effort.

Because although, in one sense, I am an ordinary mum, in another, profound sense I am not. I am a mum with a chronic health condition.

My Crohn’s disease is in remission. I am so thankful for that. But while that means I am very happily living without daily diarrhoea and sickness, it doesn’t mean I get to live without some of the other symptoms … tiredness and bowel pain being two of them.

It’s the tiredness I want to focus on, because it is the one symptom that is so hard to explain. When people say, “I’m tired,” it can mean so many different things. Having a newborn baby introduces a whole new level of meaning to the phrase! Having two toddlers at home is yet another dimension! I’ve experienced the desperation and horror of both 🙂

But living with a chronic condition … this is a tiredness so profound that it can feel hard to breathe.

For me, right now, the worst thing about it is the lack of understanding from other people. My husband is wonderful, believes me when I say that I am too tired to pick up the toys on the living room floor, too tired to read, too tired to clean.

Not everyone is so kind.

I know what ordinary tiredness feels like, and how, most of the time, it can be pushed through. Or how, if you just sit down for ten minutes, it passes. But this is not like that. It feels as though the bones in my arms and legs have turned to lead. Moving them is hard work. It feels as though my rib-cage is weighted, as though when I breathe in I am having to lift bricks resting on my chest.

It gets me down. Very down. Because I don’t like my house being a mess. I don’t like not cleaning the kitchen sink for two weeks because by the time I’ve done the basic essentials like emptying the dishwasher and cooking dinner, I’m out of energy. I don’t like telling my kids I’m too tired to play with them. I don’t like choosing a freezer-to-oven meal yet again because the healthy, home-cooked option is too hard. I don’t like saying to friends that going out in the evening is too much at the moment.

It makes me sad and angry that just taking my kids out for a couple of hours leaves me wiped out. I hate what this condition has stolen from me.

I get upset that my weight has crept up and up over the past two years because when I’m down I eat, and I have no spare energy for proper exercise. I joined a weight-loss programme last year, but decided that the stress and extra work of preparing meals from scratch was making me tired and irritable, and though I loved the impact on my body, I decided that, right now, being there for my kids is more important than how I feel about my body (and fitting in with a cultural stereotype of what is beautiful).

This is not meant to be a complaint. I’m writing this so that, if you too are living with a chronic condition, you have something to show those who do not understand you. Sometimes it helps to read something by a third party.

So if a loved one or friend of yours has just shared this with you, read more into their ‘I’m tired’ than how you feel after a long day’s work. Instead, remember the last time you were properly ill, and the first few days of recovery (when you’re well enough to be out of bed, but doing ordinary things leaves you wanting to crawl back into bed). That’s the level I (and your loved one) live at most days. We can manage ordinary things, so it looks like we’re ok. I can hoover my house, clean my bathroom … but then I have to stop and rest, or I’d have nothing left for my kids when they come home.

I’m constantly having to choose, to make sacrifices, to conserve my small allowance of energy, making it stretch. I make choices most people don’t have to weigh up: Do I sort out the pile of laundry or take my toddler to the park today? Do I go to the supermarket or arrange to meet another mum and toddler? I want to do both, but I know it will be too much.

Sometimes I choose something knowing I will suffer for it (like today), because I’m sick of this tiredness ruling my life. But I can only do that so often.

And what makes it 100 times worse is when people don’t understand, don’t even try to understand. It leaves me drained and upset when people judge me as a failure, assume I’m lazy, weak, ill-disciplined … and I have no opportunity to correct them. When people ask how you are, you can hardly launch into a long explanation of how you feel, so “I’m quite tired at the moment”, has to suffice. It barely scratches the surface.p1000669

But it humbles me, which is a good thing, and I am learning to rest in the fact that God knows I am doing everything in my power to please him. I am learning to be happy that he understands, he knows. But every now and then, someone else’s complete lack of understand really, really hurts.

So if you know someone with a chronic condition, be kind. Remember times you have felt like even ordinary life was too much, and how frustrating it was for you, just for two or three days. Let the person have a little moan every now and then, maybe even cry on your shoulder. Leave out the judgement on their house, appearance and life choices. Perhaps they hate having crumbs on the floor as much as you do, but don’t have the choice of whether to leave them another day or not. Have a bit of compassion for them. Because now you know what they mean when they say, “I’m tired”.

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Doubt and Silence

I am in an ugly season, of doubt and silence.

I am weary to my core, and have nothing left to give but the relentless days keep coming. The sun keeps rising. Children need dressing and feeding, and leave me no space to turn inwards, or even upwards.

My husband has a back injury that has recurred five times in the past two years. Each time he suffers terrible pain for weeks. He can’t sleep, and he recedes (understandably) into a cave out of my reach. We drift through the days, which become fuller for me, as the help I depend on from him has to stop.

My body is weary. My stomach is playing up, causing nights of pain and nausea, but I must get up in the morning to care for the toddler and get the older two to school, because my husband can’t do those things right now. I ache for breathing space; I feel my lungs are compressed by the days and hours and the pressure of carrying children and housework and husband and church.

My prayers are desperate, like the chirping of a helpless chick. Wordless, most of the time, a bewildered wail. Help. Help.

It feels as though the help does not come. I feel alone.

I have been through times of grief, times of struggle before. I have watched others struggle through bereavement, illness, and just hard days. We can be so tempted to come to sufferers with words, layering up clichés of supposed hope, which often injure and deepen the sorrow.

God works all things for good. This may be true, but in great grief we just can’t see it.

God’s power is made perfect in weakness. Yes, but I’m not experiencing God’s power right now.

Sometimes we just want someone to sit with us, to grieve with us. To sit in silence.

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.

Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. 

Lamentations 3:25-28

Perhaps, when God’s silence is most profound, this is what he is doing. For we know he knows our grief. We know he tasted sorrow and loneliness and pain to the dregs. We saw him weep in Gethsemane. Alone.

Perhaps his silence is that of companionship, where the pain is beyond words. Perhaps the tears are rolling down his cheeks in sympathy. Perhaps he is sitting right there all along, in silence.

Pregnancy after trauma

Today some wall stickers arrived that I ordered for our baby girl’s nursery. I also ordered some furniture paint online so that I can freshen up our baby furniture (which is looking decidedly tired after serving two little boys).

Anyone who has not known the trauma of a high risk pregnancy and delivery can have little understanding of the faith required to do these small, perfectly normal things.

My first pregnancy almost ended in tragedy, for myself and my baby. I developed aggressive pre-eclampsia early in the pregnancy. My son had to be delivered at 30 weeks by emergency caesarean section. Both our lives were put at risk, and the decision to have another natural baby (rather than adopting) has been very difficult. My second pregnancy ended with a natural, full-term delivery. I had hoped this third pregnancy would be different. That I’d be able to relax and enjoy it (as far as pregnancies can be ‘enjoyed’!)

So far I’ve been as anxious as ever. After wading through weeks of severe sickness, I’m now, according to the pregnancy websites, meant to be enjoying the second trimester ‘bloom’. Instead I feel as though my body has decided to skip over those happy middle weeks when women are pictured jogging on the beach, playing football with their children, and generally enjoying a burst of energy, and go straight to the third trimester.

My stomach has expanded to the point that I feel ready to burst, and I am heavy and uncomfortable whatever I do. I have anaemia, and literally could sleep at any point in the day, even after an hour’s nap. I still get waves of nausea, and seem to have no immune system whatsoever.

But hard and jagged under all this is a bedrock of fear that I cannot seem to shake. It makes the niggles of pregnancy seem minor. I tell myself that I have successfully carried one baby to term, and this reduces my risk of pre-eclampsia. I tell myself that the chest pain is just heartburn, that the palpitations are anaemia, that the exhaustion is perfectly normal for a woman in her early thirties with Crohn’s disease.

I am not convinced. Instead, I am not expecting to go full term. I am waiting for something to go wrong. Sometimes I feel my daughter kicking and feel that she is struggling for life. I imagine her wrestling for oxygen as the placenta reluctantly surrenders what she needs. I feel like my body is a hostile environment for her; who knows whether my immune system might start reacting again and prevent her from growing.

So I bought stickers for her nursery and paint for her cot, but with a lacing of fear about the decision. I wonder if these things will one day bring me pain.

I am aware that today I have let go of my ‘life to the full’ motto. I am allowing myself to listen to the whispers of the demon Fear. I am finding it hard to listen to the voice of Christ, which says, ‘do not be afraid’.

So I remind myself that I am here on his business, not mine. I am here today, and today my job is not to worry but to let Jesus live in me. I am here to be his hands and his feet.

And I pray that my little girl will live and grow and become his servant also.

My Emetophobia Story

This will be my last post about my personal issues for a while! I’m honestly not self-obsessed, I just think a bit of background might be useful in my future posts!

 * * * * *

This entry is about my struggle with emetophobia.

Emetophobia literally means a fear of vomiting, but it can involve a fear of nausea, other people vomiting, and even the mention or sight of words connected with vomiting.

People who do not have this will find it hard to understand. The best way I can translate it is to ask you to think of the thing you fear most. Almost all of us have some irrational fear or other, whether it is of being trapped in a lift (my husband will walk up ten flights of stairs rather than take the lift), or crashing in an aeroplane, or dogs, or birds or whatever. Most of these phobias are quite common, and people are usually quite sympathetic to a fear of closed spaces, for example. Now imagine that every day you faced the possibility of being forced into the situation you fear most, and having to endure it for several hours, possibly even days. That is what life is like for an emetophobe. Germs lurk everywhere – a trip to the library can be a source of great anxiety; all the hands that have touched the books, the tables, the chairs … how many of them were washed properly? The supermarket, the school, church, the park … each of these places and more contain hidden danger to the emetophobe.

Responses to my admission to having this phobia illustrate how misunderstood it is. “What are you afraid of?” one person asked. I couldn’t possibly put into words my answer – the physical sensation, the panic that accompanies it, the taste, the smell, the nausea, the sense of being out of control, the fear that I won’t make it to the toilet or bucket … and a shapeless, nameless fear that hangs over the entire thing.

“No one likes being sick”, is another common response. Of course not. But most people would probably not fear it so much that they would rather suffer excruciating pain than vomit. It’s not as simple as not liking it. I don’t like getting a cold, or bumping my head, or going to the dentist, but I can rationalise my dislike of these things, and manage any fear so that I can face them. I cannot rationalise the fear of vomiting. It just is a part of me.

I don’t want to overanalyse it. Sometimes people develop this fear because of a traumatic childhood experience involving a vomiting incident. But I think more often it is just part of their makeup. For myself, I am a very sensitive person. I feel things (emotionally and physically) very keenly. I have a low pain threshold, and a high sensitivity to smell, taste and sensory stimulation. This can be wonderful – I go through life in awe of the beauty around me, while most people become immune to it. But when it comes to unpleasant experiences I really struggle. And the act of vomiting, with its unpleasant stimulation of all the senses, is overwhelming, particularly for a small child who cannot minimise or rationalise the event.

By the age of ten I remember being very afraid of being sick. In university I reasoned with myself that I had to stop letting my fear be in charge. I stopped washing my hands so much, and ate things without worrying about the date.

Then in 2005, shortly after getting married, my husband and I both caught a nasty bug. I think after that I began to get more worried about vomiting.

What rocketed my emetophobia to unprecedented levels, however, was having a very premature baby. My first son was born at 30 weeks gestation, due to pre-eclampsia. He came home five weeks later in a very fragile state. He weighed only 5lbs, and we were warned by the nurses that if he caught a cold it could lead to major complications, including pneumonia and rehospitalisation. Rotavirus could cause major complications, and even kill him, as his immune system could not cope even with commonplace germs. We were told that supermarkets and other public places were dangerous for a preemie.

We took extra precautions, naturally, but for someone like me, with a predilection to anxiety over germs (and post-natal anxiety due to our traumatic birth experience) this was all I needed to allow my emetophobia full control. I had an excuse to worry now – my son could become dangerously ill.

I would wash and re-wash all his bottles, and sterilise them carefully. I washed my hands until they bled. When I finally thought he was old enough to cope with a supermarket trip I wiped the trolley down with antibacterial wipes. I wiped restaurant high chairs, and refused to let my son play with toys in a public place. I washed his hands after visiting the park, church, and friends’ houses.

I became more and more withdrawn. Going out of the house became stressful and emotionally difficult. I went to one or two toddler groups, but I was so anxious the entire time that I could barely carry on a conversation. I wouldn’t let my son eat a biscuit without putting gel on his hands. I was terrified that he would catch anything for a while, but eventually it just became stomach bugs. I couldn’t cook chicken for several months, afraid of food poisoning. I was afraid to eat food that other people had cooked. I was afraid to visit friends’ houses in case one of their children had a bug and they didn’t know it.

I knew that my fear was an overreaction. I knew that my phobia was controlling me to an unacceptable level. I was isolated, depressed, anxious and lonely.

The anxiety worsened after the birth of my second son. My health declined at this point, and I was too afraid to go to toddler groups; I would only visit friends who I felt confident were healthy. I was afraid to let my son go out with other people, or go to play centres or play groups, and so I turned down a lot of the help I could have received. I even struggled to trust my mother’s cooking, and would check that she had cooked the meat for long enough, and defrosted it correctly, before unwillingly eating.

I became badly depressed and that first year after my second son’s birth is a black hole in my memory.

I became really exhausted, trying to cope with this phobia. It was holding me back, and it had changed me into a different person. I used to love trying new things, new foods. I had wanted to travel. Now I could barely leave the house without it feeling like a huge expedition into the unknown.

You probably think I was being utterly ridiculous, but this fear is insidious. Germs are invisible. You cannot predict whether you are going to ingest them or not, or whether they will make you sick if you do. Germs can lurk anywhere. The cause of vomiting can be many things. If my kids were sick (which they were frequently, and usually not because of a bug) I would spend three days in absolute terror, bleaching everything in sight, and hardly daring to eat in case I would need to vomit myself.

(Just as a note – exposure does not work as therapy. I have been sick more often in the last seven years than I have in my entire life, and my phobia only grew worse, not better.)

 * * * * *

I prayed for release, for my own sake, for my family’s sake, and so that I could be free to serve God without fear.

Eventually I heard of a consultant in a nearby hospital who specialised in treating people with anxiety, Crohn’s disease and phobias. No one knew quite which department to put him in, so he was in physiotherapy.

I had a year of sessions with him. I learned to manage my breathing in a way that naturally calms the body down. I learned to practice mindfulness, focusing on the moment rather than imagining what might happen in the future and panicking about that.  Slowly my thought process altered, so that I no longer focussed on the possibility of getting sick. I felt calmer, less anxious, I slept better. And my Crohn’s improved, no doubt because I was no longer under such tension.

I am not fully cured – I am not sure I will ever reach the point where the possibility of vomiting does not fill me with terror. The sensation of it is bearable, but the moments before fill me with such fear and loathing that I would rather be writhing in agony. In an earthquake or an outbreak of flu I would be fearless, calm and collected. But if norovirus is about I turn to jelly.

But I do not obsess about it every day any more. I do not agonise over my sons’ safety while they are in school or nursery. I can bring myself to let them go out to a friend’s house, or just out of the house generally, without worrying overmuch.

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If you suffer from this condition, to whatever degree, know that you are not alone. You are not weird – this is a very common phobia. Part of the difficulty with treating this phobia is that, very often, patients do not want to get better – getting better means opening themselves to the possibility of getting sick, and this is something they fear above all things. It is not the same as fearing closed spaces; a person can reasonably expect to go through life without having to spend too much time in a confined space. A person cannot reasonably expect to avoid vomiting through their entire life. In fact, as a mother, I have had to be brave and love my children many times when everything in me was telling me to run in the other direction.

If you are a fellow emetophobe, take heart – I have endured three bouts of severe morning sickness, Crohn’s disease, and numerous stomach bugs. Most of the time, the act of vomiting was not as dreadful as I imagined it would be. A couple of times it has been, but it is over in moments, and I hardly think of those moments now. They are insignificant, compared to the joy and pleasure that I have received from my children.

 * * * * *

I sometimes wonder what God is thinking, giving an emetophobe severe morning sickness and Crohn’s disease … but I know that my phobia has made me walk closely with him when most people would have just pushed through in their own strength. My phobia, my weakness, has made me strong, because in scenarios most people would just get on with (like a bug hitting the family for example), I am forced to depend on him utterly for the strength to carry on loving my family, when all I want to do is run.

Fear makes us brave.

My Crohn’s story

I thought it might help your understanding of future posts to know a bit more about my history. So over the next few days I’ll throw out some blogs on my experiences of Crohn’s Disease, Pre-eclampsia, maybe depression and anxiety, and emetophobia.

I’m keen to raise the profile of all of these. They are not often in the media, and they are not well understood. Perhaps you’ve never heard of some or any of these things … but they’ve all had a profound effect on my life and two of them are life-threatening conditions, so worth knowing about.

I thought I’d start with Crohn’s, as it will probably impact the whole of my life, and I’m currently experiencing a relapse.

It’s not a well-known medical condition really. It’s not easy to talk about after all. It involves poo and sick, and flatulence, and doctors peering up your back passage with cameras.

So it’s small wonder people don’t want to talk about it.

My Crohn’s journey started in my early twenties. I was newly married, barely two months in, and we both caught a vomiting bug. Yup, it was fun. I hadn’t been sick in twelve years, so it was a bit of a shock to have my husband spend the whole night in the bathroom (liberally spraying it, I might add, with my carefully prepared cottage pie). I only threw up once in the end, but it wasn’t pleasant given that I have a phobia of being sick.

But these things happen, and we thought no more of the incident. We recovered and went back to work. After that, I had occasional nights when I would have severe nausea and diarrhoea. It felt like my body was trying to empty itself of everything. These attacks would leave me exhausted for a day or two, and I had to miss work because of them.

The GP thought it was IBS and I learned to put up with the attacks. I wasn’t losing weight, and the incidents were not so frequent that my life was seriously interrupted. So I didn’t think too much of it.

Fast forward two years and we are standing in our bathroom holding a positive pregnancy test. Excitement and fear are written all over our faces. This is something I’ve longed for, planned for, prayed for … I desperately want to be a mother.

I was anticipating some morning sickness, and was determined to put up with it bravely. It was worth a bit of nausea to hold my own baby in my arms (though I prayed that I would be spared if possible). I wasn’t.

What I wasn’t expecting, however, was diarrhoea. Almost from the moment I fell pregnant my body reacted badly, and I began having two or three bouts of diarrhoea each day. By nine weeks pregnant I was vomiting also, only once or twice a day, but that was unpleasant enough. I was struggling.

It was only the thought that I was carrying a baby that helped me keep going. I had to take days off work because of the nausea and diarrhoea. When we went for the first scan, at around 11 weeks, the consultant dismissed my theory that anxiety and IBS were causing such bad diarrhoea.

“It must be something like Crohn’s,” she said.

I was equally dismissive of her theory. People like me did not get Crohn’s disease. I was healthy, strong, normal. I did not have Crohn’s. I was only 26 anyway. Serious illness did not hit until you were old!

I battled on. At my lowest point I had ulcers all over my mouth, making eating excruciating, but eating was the only thing that held the pregnancy nausea in check. I was also visiting the toilet up to ten times a day. Food just went straight through me. I felt weak, miserable, and sick all day. We had to live with my parents, sleeping in separate rooms so that I could be near the toilet. I had been given anti-emetics, but continued to vomit occasionally even while on the tablets.

Eventually the pregnancy nausea let up enough so that I could manage it. I returned to work, continuing to cope with the diarrhoea, feeling exhausted and sick, but scraping through. Anything was better than that black couple of weeks in my parents’ house.

The diarrhoea continued through the pregnancy, but I kept dismissing it. I also dismissed symptoms of a dangerous condition of pregnancy called pre-eclampsia (feeling invincible is not always helpful).

But at my 28 week check I could avoid it no longer. I had protein in my urine and high blood pressure. I was admitted to hospital with pre-eclampsia.

The diarrhoea continued through the two weeks I spent monitored in the delivery suite. The consultants said nothing about it; no referral was made to gastroenterology, but then, I don’t think I said much about it either so perhaps the fault was mostly with me.

At 30 weeks (ten weeks before my due date) I had an emergency caesarean to bring my beautiful boy into the world. I got to see him for a few moments before he was whisked upstairs to the NICU. I spent 24 hours in intensive care, and did not get to see my son until the following night.

I’ll say more about the pre-eclampsia and the early delivery of my son in another post.

Eventually, when the diarrhoea failed to clear up following the pregnancy, a sensible GP sent me to Gastroenterology to be tested for Crohn’s or colitis. Blood was drawn, stool samples were taken (an experience in itself), and finally a colonoscopy confirmed that I had Crohn’s disease affecting my bowel.

I was given a course of steroids, and put on a strong anti-inflammatory (a form of Mesalazine), which improved my symptoms massively. I was still very tired, and suffered unpleasant symptoms but not every day, and not so severely as before.

During my second pregnancy my symptoms recurred, though I kept them in check with my medication. Three years after my second boy was born I went into remission and was able to come of the anti-inflammatories. (More about this here).

Crohn’s is not well understood. I have a ‘moderate’ case – there are people who need surgery to remove diseased sections of bowel or gut. The root cause of Crohn’s is not known. I’ve read research that shows an imbalance of bacteria in the gut is linked to the disease, but why this imbalance occurred is still not clear. In essence, Crohn’s is a disorder of the immune system where processes in the body designed to keep it clear of infection go wrong, and turn upon itself. My stomach is effectively attacking itself, leading to inflammation, and (if left untreated) disintegration of the bowel itself. I think that, somehow, the stomach bug I caught in 2005 upset the balance in my system, and my genetic makeup means my immune system overreacts (pre-eclampsia is also connected to the immune system).

Crohn’s can affect any part of the digestive tract (which is why I had mouth ulcers when I was pregnant). I’m fortunate that my disease is limited to a fairly small section of bowel, but this can still cause me a fair amount of misery. I can get quite severe pain, nausea, and even be sick as food travels through the sore section of my colon. Crohn’s can also cause an array of nasty (apparently unrelated) side-effects, such as arthritis, as I discovered a couple of years ago. It caused so much pain in my joints that I could barely lift the kettle, and climbing stairs was agony. I felt like an old woman at the age of 30.

Being in remission for a year or so really showed me how much my mild case of Crohn’s affects my life. I had so much more energy, and I found housework (almost) a pleasure because I no longer had to drag my weary body about the house.

It can be frustrating suffering from this disease. At its worst it is debilitating and isolating. If I am unwell with Crohn’s I don’t really feel well enough to go out, and even if I do there is the fear that I will urgently need the toilet and not be able to get to one. It can be an embarrassing illness, though after two pregnancies and a colonoscopy I’m far less prone to shame than I would have been ten years ago!

There was a time when I was quite ill and losing weight, and people kept telling me how great I looked. I didn’t mind the weight loss in one way (after all, if you’re going to have a nasty disease it’s nice to have a silver lining!) but it never crossed people’s minds that I might be losing weight because I was sick.

This page might really only hold interest for others with the disease, or perhaps someone who’s family member is suffering from Crohn’s. If you know someone with this illness, or anything similar (colitis and IBS can cause similarly debilitating symptoms), take some time to sit with them and ask how their illness is affecting them at the moment. They may look great, but actually still be very unwell.

If you live in the UK then the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation may be a helpful source of information to you.

My first blog entry

Wow. This is a little scary. I’ve thought about writing a blog for a long time. I’ve planned it in my head. I’ve written dozens of entries already (in my head).

But it’s one thing to think about writing a blog, and another thing altogether to actually put my thoughts and feelings and beliefs out there for anyone to read. As if I have any authority on the matter at all. As if what I think is worth consideration. As if I am ready and prepared for anyone to criticise me and my life.

Well, I suppose I do believe I have some authority on some things. I know quite a bit about being a Christian woman in 21st Century Britain. I have almost ten years’ experience as a wife, over six as a mother, and during my lifespan I have experienced depression, bereavement, friendship, rejection, work, buying and keeping a home (twice), emetophobia (fear of vomiting), planning a wedding, childbirth, pre-eclampsia, Crohn’s Disease, a caesarean, buying a car, potty training (twice), breastfeeding and bottle feeding, sleep-training, camping, air-travel, disappointment, hope, marriage, church life, and a whole lot of joy.

Things I enjoy doing are cooking, sewing, reading, writing, painting and taking photos (not especially good ones).

So any of these things, and more, might appear on this blog at any time. It doesn’t make for a good strapline does it? So I just summarised this blog as ‘living life to the full’ because that is what I want to do.

I don’t usually manage it, just so you know. I’m an idealist, so I sit around and think a lot about how things should be, and then go and mess it up.

But Jesus came so that I might have ‘life, and have it to the full’ and that is what I aim at.

So, in the coming days, if you come back (and I won’t blame you if you don’t) you will most likely find articles on being a wife and mother (since that is what I spend most of my time doing at the moment), a few on surviving Crohns and emetophobia (which I hope will make you laugh if nothing else), and some on craft and cooking. But running through it all will be this thread (I hope) of seeking joy and fulness and God in all of life, which is for everyone.

I hope this blog encourages you. I hope it makes you think. I welcome respectful disagreement – I love to be challenged in my views. My favourite people know how to do this without making me feel either stupid or inferior.

Above all I hope these humble pages lift you from the shadowlands to see the Reality we all desire.