Wednesday, 29 August 2012

And the greatest of these is love

I've never hidden the fact that my faith is something that is really important to me. I started going to church when I was in my teens when we had to attend church parade once a month in the scouts. Eventually after going a few times I started going every week because one of the scout leaders and one of the other scouts were regulars at the church. I spent the next 4 years going to church every week, went to youth club, joined the choir and even got confirmed.

Just before I started at university there was a problem at one of the local cemeteries which resulted in my grandparent's exhumed and the fact that my Gran's coffin has been smashed in order for my Grandfather's to be put into the grave on top of it. His coffin was only about a foot or so beneath the surface, below both their coffins there was another one. We'd been told it was a new, empty plot but it wasn't. My grandparent's grave wasn't the only one that there were problems with.

Our vicar was also a local councillor and he ended up backing the town council over events which resulted in us stopping going to church.

It took me a long time to start going to church again, in fact it was only after my son was diagnosed with Leukaemia that I went back. However, I've always prayed and talked to God even when I wasn't going to church.

Well this year has proven interesting with regard to church. My faith has wavered big time, I've been struggling with it ever since I decided to transition, but I seem to have turned a corner.

Last Christmas I bought a book on Archangels by Doreen Virtue. I read through it and then a few months ago came across her Archangel and Angel oracle cards.

During the time I wasn't going to church I dabbled with things like Tarot cards, I've always had an interest in the paranormal. As a Christian I know that Tarot cards are not a good idea and I stopped using them a while back. Now the Archangel and Angel cards might be frowned upon by some Christians but they are helping me to rebuild my faith because I'm spending more time recently praying, especially while using them but also at other times to.

Last weekend saw a major mind shift for me though. For a while I've been disappointed with the fact that I was asked to go to a different service to everyone else that I know at church. When I stopped going to that service I found that not many people kept in touch with me to see how I was doing. For most people that wasn't a problem but there were a lot of people that I thought of as friends that didn't take the time to check on me. Last weekend we bumped into some friends from church while in town. We'd been out to various places with my son and I was dressed in jeans, tee-shirt and leather jacket with no make-up and hair pulled back. Its how I dress if I'm out with him and there's a chance that we would meet some of his friends that aren't aware of my transition.

We chatted with our friends for a while and when we came away I said to my other half that I my conversation had felt awkward.

It got me thinking though. I'd already broached the subject of going to the morning services with my son. His response was that he didn't mind. Since I'm planning to start training for the Outlaw in December going to church might have had to be part of my rest/family day instead of the Saturday that I'd planned it to be. The more I thought about things though the more I came to the conclusion that going to the morning service isn't going to happen. When I'm ready to start going back to church, and its probably going to be when my son's Sunday night youth group restarts soon, I'm going to start going back to the Sunday evening services. I was made to feel welcome there, my transitioning didn't seem to worry anyone.

Having made that decision I then thought about starting to read my bible again. The only problem is that although we've got lots of bibles in the house, the two that I used most regularly I gave to my other half and son. Of the rest, well they belong to my old self. If I'm going to start reading a bible again then it had to be one that I've bought for me as I am now.

Yesterday I popped into our local Christian bookshop and started browsing through the bibles. The assistant was really friendly and helpful. We chatted about what I wanted and when I was looking for a daily devotional she made sure to point out that there were several more in front of the till, in addition to where I was looking.

I'd planned on getting a New International Version bible but after looking at several I found myself drawn to one of the New Living Translation bibles. Its a purple-pink colour and has 1 Corinthians 13:13 on the cover.

Which finally brings me to the title of this post.

"Three things will last forever - faith, hope and love - and the greatest of these is love."

When I read 1 Corinthians 13 I always find myself thinking of Nicholas Parsons reading that passage out in the Doctor Who story The Curse of Fenric. Its a great passage in the bible.

This morning I sat down and read it before I got started doing anything else. It was when I got to that line that I finally got an insight which runs contrary to the verse but make sense to me.

As I read it I found myself thinking faith and hope wont last forever, only love will. Once the events of Revelation have taken part and God's Kingdom has come then there wont be a need for faith and hope. We'll know God so why will we need to have faith. The same goes for hope. Love though, well that's different because we'll experience God's love for us first-hand, we'll also have got rid of all the stuff that interferes with us loving ourselves and each other.

So of the three, love is the greatest and it is the one that will endure forever. In this horrible world where people are killing each other, treating each other badly because they want to get ahead of people I'm going to try and practice a bit more love for my fellow man and see where it takes me.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Clear Out

Last Monday we got rid of our car for scrap. We've had it for about 4 years and bought it just before my son had his bone marrow transplant as we needed something reliable anhe d our old car just wasn't that.
The Skoda was a great car. An estate, so it had plenty of room when we needed it. On top of that it had roof bars so we were able to attach cycle bars to the top of the car which allowed us to take a couple of bikes to my sister-in-laws or even off to triathlons. We've driven to Bala and Nottingham with bikes attached to the top of the car.
Sadly this year the car began to have lots of problems. We've had to replace the regulators on both front windows and several other repairs were needed.
When we were told that the catalytic converter was breaking up and then the car simply wouldn't start it was time to get rid of it. Another £1000 in repairs just isn't economical.
So last Monday she went off to the scrap yard.

At the moment we're going to try and manage without a car, which means either walking (good for fitness), bus (can't believe how expensive that is), train (need to do that to get to Exeter) or taxi.
Food shopping is done online through Tesco direct for home delivery. It actually works out cheaper for us to do that and get it delivered on the right day because a taxi to our house is actually more expensive than the delivery charge if we get the right time slot.

With the car gone though we decided that we didn't need to carry on renting the garage from the council. I'd not really realised just how much they were charging us for the privilege of putting the car away at night. We're certainly not paying for them to do anything because in all the years that we've rented it we've had them come out to do a repair on the door once.

Today we spent over an hour emptying and then sweeping out the garage. We ended up with about 10 bags of rubbish and a lot of other bits that will be stored because we want to keep them or have yet to sort through and get rid of them.

It was interesting what came out of there, cassette tapes, gallons of anti-freeze and screenwash, empty containers of the same and oil. An empty gas cylinder, a car battery and lots and lots of other things that we've not used for 2 years or more. Some of the things were actually emptied out of the old car so have been in there for over 4 years. We really should have had a clear out before now. Perhaps this will be the first in a series of clear-outs. Who knows where they will end!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

From Yeovil to Nottingham

I've decided that I'm going to separate all of my sports related posts off into a blog of their own so that I can document my training for The Outlaw triathlon next year, and maybe even the other endurance events that I've got planned for the years ahead.
It also means that I can keep all my gender stuff here, at least as far as it doesn't relate to my sport.

You can find the new blog here.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Hi Handsome. My name is Rose

I've had a viral infection for the last couple of weeks and so after seeing my GP last Monday I stayed off work most of last week. I went back in on Friday.
Checking my emails I found one from my son, it was a chain email entitled "Hi handsome, my name is Rose".
If you've not seen it, it is written from the viewpoint of a college student who meets and becomes friends with an 87 year old called Rose who has gone to college to fulfill her dream of getting a college education. A week after graduating she dies peacefully.
The last two paragraphs of the story are

"REMEMBER, GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY. GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL. We make a Living by what we get. We make a Life by what we give.
God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it."

I found myself thinking about this as I was writing a journal entry. For those of you that have followed my posts for a while its fairly obvious that I'm a Christian and have a relationship with God. That relationship has had its ups and downs for a long time. Its been pretty rough over the last year or so, more so this year but I'm rebuilding that relationship slowly, in my own way.

As I was thinking about the story of Rose that I'd received from my son I found myself writing the following.

"God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it."

No matter how I look at things in my life everything that has happened can be split into "I did something that brought me to this place" or "God did something to bring me to this place." At least I can split it that way.

I could say everyhing that has happened in my life has been due to decisions that I've made.
My marriage - deciding to find someone special, deciding to meet my other hal, deciding to propose to her, deciding not to split from her when I moved to Somerset, all of that has lead me to where I am in my marriage.
My son's illness, well that comes from the decision to have a child. If we'd not made that decision we'd not have had the child we love with all our hearts but also we wouldn't have spent all the time we have in hospital. We also wouldn't have met the people we have done, raised money for charity or had the experiences we've had.

On the flipside I could say everthing that has happened being due to God bringing me to it.

God brought my other half and I together, God brought Rhys into our lives and also brought his Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia into our lives.
A lot of people whould struggle to accept such a horrible situation, some marriages and relationships can't survive it. We know of some relationships that have struggled, we also know of at least one marriage that ended as a result of a diagnosis of cancer.

If I accept that God brought us to that situation then I also have to accept that he brought us through it. Why though? For what benefit?

I honestly don't know but what I do know is that we have had so many experiences as a result.

Over the years we've met so many families that we never would have, so many children. Lots have recovered from their illnesses but some haven't and have passed away. Its these ones that have a more lasting effect on us. The memories of a smiling teenage face with a nasal tube taped toit, the life an energy of a young girl, the image will stay with me for a long time.
The tears that flowed while I was out running after hearing the news that a 3 year old that we'd known briefly in hospital had dies after coming out of a coma long enough to receive her Christmas presents.
A dad pushing his son in a wheelchair in order to receive his conditioning treatment while we were undergoing the same in preparation for my son's bone marrow transplant. My son had a much easier time with his conditioning.
Running the Great Western Run, doing the London Marathon, swimming 3000 metres in open water at Dorney Lake, each of these are experiences that I most likely would never have had.

Its true when the say that we live on in people's memories. Even though we might not realise it we and our families will touch people's lives and make an impression that they may carry with them for a long, long time.

I think that I can say, in my heart, that God did bring me to the things that he has done. He always has, even now as I transition I know that even though I have made the decisions, God brought me to the point of making them. Like with my son's illness God brought us through it for a reason, he will bring me and my family through transition one way or another.

Each day I grow older, I can't stop that. What I can do though is to make each of those days one that counts by doing something that is worthwhile, whether its something that will have an immediate effect, or whether its something that will take a lot longer to bare fruit. 

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Giving something back

On the 30th September I'm taking part in the Bristol Half Marathon. To that end I am unashamedly going to plug the fund-raising page that I've set up.

The page is at

I'm raising money for two charities.

The first is CLIC Sargent, which has given my family and I so much support since my son was diagnosed in the summer of 2000 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. The Sargent social worker was so much help as we adjusted to the situation we found ourselves in. CLIC supported us through rooms at CLIC House and later Sam's House, and also through one of the community nurses that they fund at our local hospital.

The other charity is The Wallace & Gromit Grand Appeal, more specifically Jack Banks Star Tribute Fund.
Jack was a young lad, just a bit younger than my son who we got to know when we were in Bristol for my son's bone marrow transplant. Although Rhys got through his transplant Jack passed away during the July.
Rob and Paula, Jack's parents have been raising money in Jack's name. Their current aim is to provide a new playroom and outdoor area for the youngsters who are on the Oncology and BMT wards. The money that I'll raise will go towards helping achieve this.

To get a flavour of what is involved with a bone marrow transplant you can find the blog that we wrote here and pictures here.


Pin drop

Its been a quiet week as there's not been anyone around at home. I've quite enjoyed it. No queue for the bathroom in the morning so I have plenty of time to do my make-up. Able to get up when I want, in time to get to work of course. Stay up as late as I want because I wont be disturbing anyone when I go to bed at gone midnight.
Its also been really quiet.
I've been eating at lunchtime in work so the evenings have been having a snack. Tonight was the first time that I've actually cooked something, welshcakes. Yum. I thought I'd try making the dough in our breadmaker but sadly it didn't turn out very well. Back to the mixing the dough by hand and all 17 are mine. Mwahahahaha!
Of course I'll have to make another batch on Sunday for when the family come back home.
I might even make a Christmas pudding, we used to make our own but haven't done that for a little while. Who knows I might even have a go at making an early Christmas cake. Just to make sure that I perfect it in time for the festive season of course.

I had planned on doing lots this week but failed somewhat. Burlesque, voice, some studying to enhance my skills and career prospects. Instead I've just come home and relaxed. Its been bliss, so much quiet me time. Next week that will all change as the family want my attention but I don't mind. I love it when they are here and we do things together.

My training for the Bristol Half Marathon has started again. I gave up on my original training plan as I'd missed so many sessions that I'd have needed to start over in order to get anywhere with it. With 9 weeks to go that just isn't feasible. I've downloaded a 10 week training plan and turned it into a 9 week one by ignoring the first week. I have four runs to do each week. My plan is to run on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Sunday is the long run, the others are shorter runs that work on speed and recovery. So far this week I've done two of the runs, the next one is on Saturday and I plan on doing a bike ride before it so it will be a bit like a mini triathlon. If I can fit them in I'll cycle to the pool a couple of mornings, swim for half an hour and then cycle home in time to get ready for work.

I've now swapped from hormone patches to gel. Its a lot easier as all I have to do is apply the gel and let it dry before getting dressed or going to bed. It also means that I can shower and swim without worrying that the patch will come off. It will be interesting to see how things work out with the gel compared to the patches. Hopefully things will continue to develop as they have been.

Speaking of developing, and going back to running, yes I know I'm meandering a bit. On Monday evening when I went out for my run, I had been running for a couple of minutes when I glanced down and noticed that where I've experience some development in the breast area due to the hormones it was a little bit noticeable. There was even a slight jiggle. Tuesday morning when I went out I decided that I'd take steps to make sure that things were a bit more discrete. Some time back I bought a sports bra, its not very big but then neither am I. Tuesday morning I put that on and wore it under my top. It helped. With that in mind I'm getting a crop top affair on Saturday so that I've at least got something to wear while the other is in the wash.

The other interesting thing that happened this week was last Saturday. I've been having a burlesque costume made. Saturday I went for a fitting and to discuss the costume as M, who is making it, is moving away soon. It was lovely seeing her and we had a nice chat. The skirt part of the costume we'll discuss at some point once she's settled. The corset part we were able to check the fit of. Thank goodness we did as somehow between her taking the initial measurements and checking the fit against a template she'd produced, I've seemed to have gotten smaller around the waist area. It could be the hormones, it could be exercising. Whatever it is I've shrunk by enough that M is going to have to remove 2 inches from the corset when she makes the final article. Wow!

Well, its time to go and make a cup of tea and have a couple of welshcakes before bed.