As a young child I was diagnosed with a serious medical condition that affected my hips. Although I had had it from birth, no one had realised anything was wrong so it had caused a lot of damage. Once discovered, I was taken into hospital and spent the best part of a year, at the age of five, undergoing surgery, traction, and physiotherapy. It was a difficult time as in the early sixties parents were not allowed to stay with their children, so I spent a lot of time apart from them and the rest of my family. I became a bit self sufficient and overly content with my own company.
I was a happy teenager but didn’t have much of a social life. My self esteem was quite low and I experienced some teasing about the way I walked and the scars I bore from surgery. I did have a very good relationship with many of my peers and had a fantastic form teacher who really cared about her students. She invited me, along with a few others, to a youth event that was happening at the church she attended. I went and had a great time. I enjoyed the friendly ambiance and asked if I could go again. Before long I was a regular attendee, but I knew that I did not have the same understanding about God as those in the Youth group. At the end of one meeting a friend asked me if I was a Christian. Suddenly I knew what was missing- a personal relationship with Jesus! Without hesitation I said that I wasn’t a Christian but that I would like to become one. I began to realise that I needed to have a relationship with God that up to that time had been impossible because of the sin that separated us. My friend explained how God had sent Jesus to die on the cross to deal with my sin and allow me to know God in a new way. That night my life changed forever. I started a relationship that would take me on a wonderful journey.
Over the years I have experienced the highs and lows of life but I have always had God by my side helping me through good and bad. Christians don’t get everything easy when it comes to the nitty gritty of life. Together my husband and I have gone through the joys of having children, but we have also discovered the challenges of caring for a child with Down’s Syndrome. We have been blessed with steady jobs, but have also experienced the difficulties of unemployment and the uncertainties that brings with it. We have known the joy of family life, but we have also gone through the darkness of losing a step parent and sibling to cancer. Throughout our lives we have walked all these roads with God by our side and, although difficult at times He has never deserted us and we have seen our lives and those of our family enriched by His great love for us.
We have been shaped and directed by our desire to follow God in every aspect of our lives and back in 2004 we felt Him challenge us about our willingness to serve Him in a different part of the country. We had lived in the South East of England all our lives and had brought up our family there. In many ways we felt that we would live out the rest of our lives in the Church that we loved so dearly and in the area we knew so well.
Some close friends of ours announced to us one day that they had felt God calling them to move up to Northumberland to start a new church there. At first we felt sad that we would be losing our friends to the North East, but over the ensuing weeks we began to feel God asking us, independently, if we were willing to join this new venture. It wouldn’t be easy. Two of our children had left home but we still had two at home. Jobs would have to be found and houses sold and bought. Quite a list! To cut a long story short, we felt that this was the right move for us to make. It wasn’t straightforward and many things didn’t go quite as planned, but five years later we find ourselves settled and enjoying being part of a new church in the most beautiful part of the country.
All those years ago when I first met God little did I know the impact it would have on the rest of my life. But the adventure is not over yet and I look forward to the future and all He has in store for me and my family.