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Soaring out of the darkness - Staci's Story

I’ve made a new friend and I want you to meet her.  Her name is Staci McLean and she has the most brutiful (brutal and beautiful) life story!  I met her in the pages of the book she wrote called ‘Soaring out of the darkness.’ After reading it I instinctively knew I had to meet her and that she was one of ‘our people.’  And I did… And she is!!!
 
This is a heartbreaking story of a childhood surrounded by brokenness, tension, family health issues, divorce, neglect, alcohol, grief and poverty which lead Staci as a 14 year old to have her first drink of alcohol, and she was hooked.
 
Staci’s story made me realise that every addict has a story of brokenness that begins far earlier than just their first experience of the substance.
 
“No one plans to become an addict. It’s not what I aspired to be.
 
For Staci her brokenness ran deep and had many layers.  Constantly disappointed by those she loved and the situation she was forced to live in, meant that she learned to be self-sufficient and only rely on herself from a young age.
 
"Winters in Christchurch are very cold.  One winter my shoes had a huge hole in the sole. I did not have enough money to buy new shoes, so I fixed them with cardboard and duct tape.  This lasted fine for a few weeks until it rained.  Then the cardboard would turn to mush and I would have to replace it with a new piece of cut up cardboard box.  It never occurred to be to ask Dad for new shoes.  If I had, he would have found a way, but I did not feel as if I deserved things.  I felt I had to be grateful that Dad had taken me in, because my Mum did not want me. If Dad decided he didn’t want me either,
I had nowhere to go, so I asked for nothing and told no one.

Staci’s teenage experiences of alcohol and her subsequent relationship with boys made so much sense to me after reading about her childhood.  On the outside it might have just looked like a typical rebellious teenager partying too hard, but understanding her story you can see it was a young woman desperately trying to ‘self-medicate’ the pain and brokenness of her childhood and current existence.
 
Of course her story continues on the downward spiral and Staci writes so poignantly about depression as her constant companion leading to suicidal thoughts and plans and finally to her rock bottom moment.
 
"One evening in the darkness of the night, I lay alone on the bathroom floor sobbing. I was so consumed with my emotional pain that it felt like my heart was literally breaking apart. In despair and drowning in feelings of hopelessness over my life and lack of control, I had reached a place where the anguish was swallowing me. The heart ache was overwhelming. The thought of continuing to live like this was unbearable.”

Regardless of each of our individual life stories, I think we can all relate on some level to the girl sobbing on the floor and the feelings and emotional pain that Staci so eloquently puts into words. 
 
But what I love about Staci’s book and about her story is that this rock bottom moment is not the end of the story, actually it’s only halfway through the book!  
 
"God heard my cry and met me that day on the floor next to the toilet. There was no bright shining light and no angel choir, but instead a small whisper of hope and a tiny glimpse of a different good future for me.  That small, croaked prayer caused a shift in me.  It was the planting of a tiny seed of the one thing I had never had before: hope."
 
I was captivated and inspired as I continued to read about her journey from addiction and hopelessness into freedom and healing with God. Staci writes so realistically about her experiences of God and church as an alcoholic, I found it so refreshing and actually was challenged and learnt a lot myself as a Christian, church go-er and leader.
 
"The ‘tick the box’ Christianity appealed to me. I wanted to get right with God and make amends for all my past sins.  I wanted a list that I could work through, tick everything off the list and then I would be ok, forgiven and go to heaven.  I thought if I spent an hour a day in prayer and study, went to every service and invited three people a week to church then God would find me worthy and I would get His approval.  I missed the whole message of grace and underserved forgiveness."
 
I feel like we all need to be reminded of the whole message of grace and underserved forgiveness sometimes!  
Staci finishes her book so beautifully as she writes about all those things - finding God not just religion, and about her honest journey to freedom through that grace and underserved forgiveness.
 
“Freedom is a gift from God and cannot be taken from us.  My move into freedom was not a onetime thing; every day I choose to stay in that freedom and not go back."
 
I recommend that you read this book.  
It is a hard easy read - hard because of the heartbreaking content, but easy because it passes my tired-Mama-concentration test.  Reading stories like Staci's is important because it helps with our humanity and our perspective. We learn, empathise and grow respect for each other when we share our stories.
 
Staci thank you for writing this book and sharing your story with the world.  
You are brave, resilient and inspiring. 
You are my hero.
 
With love and courage,
xx Steph xx

 

 

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BraveGirl heads to the United Nations!

Written by Steph Redhead  | 
I have some pretty big news I want to share with you all….
I along with my bestie Sally have been selected to be part of a delegation heading to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 2019 in New York.  (Cue the squeals of excitement!)
It’s a pretty big deal for us!
The Economic and Social Council at the United Nations is the body responsible for initiatives for the advancement of women.  The Commission on the Status of Women is the functional commission that is dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women.  Sally and I will be going as part of the delegation from Presbyterian Women of Aotearoa New Zealand which has Special Consultative Status with the ECOSOC.
Essentially Sally and I are going because we want to learn about the policies and processes that are working towards development and progress for women internationally. We want to be better informed about what the United Nations are doing for equality and empowerment of women. We are passionate about these issues but we want to know, understand and do more! When we understand better we can move from 'just passionate' into effective response and involvement in solutions - and that is where I want to be and I believe where BraveGirl needs to be too. We are also really looking forward to meeting women from other UN countries whose stories and lives are similar yet completely different to our own.  And you all know how much I LOVE hearing people’s stories!
The exciting news for YOU is that you are coming with us!  
No not literally flying the thousands of miles with us (!) but through the gloriousness of technology, and social media we will be recording, filming and sharing our experiences with you on the BraveGirl platform. Like us I am sure that you want to be challenged, inspired and well informed women! And we want to be able to make the UN accessible to you and give you opportunity to get involved with us in doing something to make a better world for our daughters and future generation BraveGirls!
As with most amazing things there is (always) a catch!  Being part of this delegation means we have to self-fund the trip which just means the excitement of going is also equal to the daunting feelings of figuring out how to get there.  Sally and I both have young families and we work part-time jobs in retail and hospitality so ‘saving up’ isn’t enough of an option for us.  If you feel that supporting us financially in this venture is something you would like to do then please click on the link to the Give-a-little page we have set up.  We would so appreciate any gift to help us in our mission to get BraveGirl to the United Nations!

 

 

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Posted by Steph Redhead

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Confessions of a grumpy Mum

Written by Nicky Geldard  | 

When sickness comes knocking during school holidays Mum gets pushed to her limit. Read on as Nicky shares her honest experiences of the school holidays...



I feel like the worst version of myself these holidays. Shouty, growly, irritable mummy has made an appearance and I’m looking forward to packing her bag and sending her away.

The break started with party poppers, roast pork, friends, fun and laughter. We were onto a good thing, the kids were finding their rhythm and we had some enjoyable activities planned. Then there was a sniffle. It turned into a sore throat. Dad hit the deck, or the bed, first. Influenza – the full-blown kind with all its accessories: aches, vomit, sinus blockages, restless nights, etc. Hmmm.

Funnily enough we had just had our flu shots (it’s always a family outing – the kids call them “holes”, much to the doctor’s amusement). Time would tell if the rest of the family was going to succumb. Actually, it didn’t take much time at all. The two little ones (as I call my 5-year-old and 3-year-old), were both feverish by the time the evening rolled around. It was going to be a long night and I was on sole-duty given that Dad was out of action.

Night one: alternate administrations of pamol and ibuprofen, vicks vapor rub, bowls emptied, tissues overflowing the rubbish bin… Morning arrived and that’s when Florence Nightingale waved goodbye and Grumpy Mummy stomped in. I’m a terrible nurse, I just don’t have the stamina to be needed 24-7. If I could have tapped out that morning, I would have.

We limped through the next few days (and nights) with a few visits to the doctor and the after-hours clinic. Someone needed antibiotics, another needed an injection to stop the vomiting, then it was steroids, inhalers, the works. I’m so grateful we live in New Zealand, God bless our medical system, but what I really was after was a prescription for a live-in nurse.

My head cold was nothing to what the others were going through, but a quiet hotel room, all by myself, with clean sheets and no one sneezing on me, was becoming a daily fantasy. I hit a new parenting low when the kids developed a chesty cough on top of all the other symptoms. It was let’s-keep-mummy-up-tag that night. One would go and then the other, back and forth, back and forth. I lost count of how many times I had been in and out of bed when our 3-year-old called out again. Her teddy was too big! What?! I grudgingly replaced the offending smurf (with a baby owl) and stomped back to bed. Then there was another shout. Expletives are not normally my thing, but they were clearly at the front of my mind that night. The owl was missing a wing. What…the…owl?!

Thankfully Daddy was back on board by this stage and prevented any further injury to the owl, but I was done. A few days of looking after everyone had stripped away patience, kindness and sympathy. And truthfully, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, it was intense for a few days, but there are so many people out there who are dealing with significant health issues, long-term situations that they cannot see an end to. As I write, my family is on the mend. Grumpy, yes. Congested, yes. But they will get better.

So how do I understand my reaction in light of my faith? After all, doesn’t one’s true self come to light in the face of adversity? And what about the evidence of Christ in my life, that should be displayed by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Oh, ouch. I know my prayers became a whole lot more simple than usual, “Give me patience,” “Heal him, please,” “Help me not to shout,” “Help her breathe,” and again, “Give me patience.” I’m grateful God hears me, even when I’m mad, frustrated and at the end of my tether. And I’m grateful He hears me, even when I’m not being a very good reflection of Him.

After all, don’t we love our kids in spite of their faults, failures and willful wrong-doing? Hang, we even love them when they get us up, repeatedly, throughout the night. Matthew 7:11 says, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” In other words, God loves us more than we will ever know. It’s a love that is even greater than what a parent has for their child, and because of His great love for us, He wants to bless us. Part of His blessing involves listening. He tunes in when we’re upset and He forgives us when we get things wrong.

So here are my words of courage to myself this week (and to anyone else who may need them): “Pray short prayers, be grateful, this will end. Have a cuppa, see a friend, lock yourself in the bathroom for five minutes and take some deep breaths. You are heard, you are forgiven, you get a second chance.”

The bags are packed, I’ll send Grumpy on her way now.



Posted by Nicky Geldard

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