mum on a mission versus the train

UPDATE Nov 2017: Mum on a Mission VS The Train

mum on a mission versus the train

It has been a fair old time since I’ve written an update about how I am doing with the whole HS2 situation.   I thought perhaps I had better write something and share where we are at and how I am doing with it all.

The answer is quite simply, we’re still here!

Everyone told us it would be a long process selling our house to the government, and they were not wrong.  But unfortunately in our case, with all the complexities of us being on a new housing estate and so many of us doing this all at once, things are moving even slower.  We are waiting for HS2’s surveyors to give us a valuation on our house that will actually enable us to afford to move, and until we get that we aren’t going anywhere.

So even though we haven’t moved forward with that, it is still an emotional drain on us all.  Me especially.  I have found it very emotional with Sam starting school and settling in so well.  I am making friends with the mums there and wanting to get involved, but then part of me is always reminded that he might not be there next year.  It is so hard to build relationships not knowing if they’ll be destroyed if/when we move.

Physically it is having a toll on my health still.  Although I have tried to give it all over to God and not to worry, sometimes my anxiety kicks in and I end up suffering with headaches, tiredness, jaw ache and faintness.  Constantly carrying a question mark about your future around with you all the time is hard work!

Every time a new letter drops or progress is made  it all comes flooding back, and my poor husband gets the full force of emotional Rachel.  The verse that God has been giving me lately is this one:

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” Exodus 14:14

Spoken to the Israelite’s as they faced their first battle after leaving slavery in Egypt, Moses reminded everyone that it is the Lord’s battle and not theirs.  God reminded me of this too – that ultimately He can see the offer that we finally get given, He can see the house that we will move in to and His hand is over all that to bring about His purposes for our future.  The battle is already won.  I need only to be still.

A year of drought – reflections on the impact of HS2

Last week I sat and looked at the walls of my house.  I read, and re-read, the verse that I had put upon those walls when we moved in.  The phrase “It has no worries in a year of drought”  kept spinning round and round in my head.  “A year of drought“.  Was that was this was?  Some years you just keep plodding on, some are filled with happy and exciting news, and some are filled with drought.

Drought doesn’t have to just mean a lack of water, but I think it refers more to the challenges you face.  When there is no rain, it is soooo much harder to farm and produce crops.  It is not impossible, but it is blinking hard work.  And that is what this year has been like.  It has felt like hard work.  Emotionally stressful, tiring, draining and exhausting.  Just to keep going at day to day things has been tough.  It would have been easy to barricade myself in the home and become seriously depressed, and it breaks my heart to know that some people on my estate have been in that place.  But thankfully I was not one of them.  Why not?  Because of the river I am planted next to.

Before the words “HS2” ever crossed my lips, I had sunk my roots firmly into Christ Jesus.  I had studied his words and listened to his teachings.  I had put my faith in the one true God, and he has not let me down.  He has sustained me in this year of drought and kept me going.  He has given me a sanctuary of peace to hide in when needed, faith to step out and be bold when required and words of hope to show me the way out.  It is only because of him that I will “bear fruit” during this season.  By helping me not hide in depression, I have made new friends, invited people to alpha courses and been there to support others.

So today’s news that the consulation results have basically been ignored and the government is sticking with the decision to put HS2 through our estate has not shocked or angered me.  It has saddened me as I know the impact on others will be great.  It has saddened me that the man making that decision would not come out and face up to the consequences of it in person.  It has saddened me that my year of drought will continue a bit longer than a year (probably another year to go!).  But I am hopeful that God will bring us out into a year of amazing fruitfulness and into a new community that we can love and serve.

mum on a mission versus the train

Mum on a Mission VS the train – Acceptance

mum on a mission versus the train - acceptance

The final stage of grief is acceptance.  Acceptance that what has happened has actually happened and that you can move on with your life.  I am there.

Perhaps not 100%, but I have come to the point where I have stopped fighting the inevitable – HS2 is coming through my home whether I like it or not, and there is nothing that little old me can do to stop it.  The only thing that can change this (in my opinion – and I know others might disagree) is for the government to change its mind about the whole project or run out of funding.

So where does that leave me?

It leaves me sat here looking at solicitors, surveyors, compensation, blight notices and all this mumbo jumbo.  Luckily I have a husband with a law degree to help me out, but it is still mind boggling.  Three years ago I chose a place to settle with my family, and now I have to chose all over again.  I don’t know where we will end up.  I don’t know when in the next few years we will move.  But move we have to.

I am still loving this community, and everytime I see neighbours in the street and enjoy talking to them it is tinged with sadness.  I am still loving the home that we have made here and how we have decorated it to suit us.  But it is just bricks and mortar, and the words of a favourite song keep coming back to me lately:

“Where you go, I’ll go.  Where you stay, I’ll stay.  When you move, I’ll move.  I will follow.” (Chris Tomlin – I will follow)

I have always said that I will listen to God and go where he wants me to.  I followed him to Mexborough and rooted my family here, but now he is saying to get up and start looking for a new community to light up and a new home to build.  If the light stays in just one place, then how will the whole world see it?

Please pray for wisdom for me and my family as we step into this period of action and start to look for a new place to call home.  Thank you x

Inspirational Stories – what is yours?

inspirational

So this week I was featured on Emma Reed’s “Inspirational Stories” series (you can read it here).  It was a real honour to be able to share a bit of my story with a new audience.  But it got me doubting as to whether I really am an inspirational person, or am I just something that has had something awful happen to them?

What makes someone inspirational?

In my opinion anyone can be inspirational if they give someone the confidence or encouragement to do something positive, or if they act to bring about a positive change in the world.  I can’t say for sure if I have encouraged others to do something positive, but I really hope that I have helped my local community connect and given them a marketplace to share opinions, events, ask questions and just get around each other.  Maybe some would say it is worse being able to do that, but I hope some would say that it has helped them through the past 6 months.

What I would really love to come out of my story being shared is that others have strength to stand up and actually do something in their community. It really is a simple as setting up a facebook group for your street and seeing what people want to do to grow community.  It really is as simple as being the person to say “Hey, why don’t we do a treasure hunt for the kids for christmas” or “does anyone need help with their gardening, I have a free hour”.  We all have the resources to be a positive influence in our communities, but a lot of the time we just can’t be bothered or are scared we’ll do it wrong.  Yes there might be backlash or negative comments, but just think about that one person you are helping and make that your goal.  Because every person matters.

what’s your story?

What is your inspirational story?  If you don’t think you have one, then why not step out and start being an inspiration today.  Don’t forget to hop over to Emma’s blog to read mine and many more inspirational stories today.

Mum on a Mission VS the train – UPDATE

So, that’s it.  The announcement has been made.  Chris Grayling’s preferred route for HS2 is the one that goes through my house and I can now officially apply for compensation and sell up to the government.  But I don’t feel any better.  Actually, the announcement made is not what I was expecting – its less clear and means another year of uncertainty for us all here on our estate.  They are still undecided about the Sheffield/South Yorkshire part of the route and will be doing lots of consulting on this with a firm decision to be made in 2017.  
 
This morning I have spoken to almost every news outlet on the planet and I am exhausted by it all – but I wanted people to see what the impact was on normal people like me – the stress, the uncertainty and the loss of community.
 
I was chatting to some people at church on Sunday about how this is all like grief, but also not.  People accept that you have to grieve when someone dies, but with news like this that you can’t control it is not accepted that you might feel the same way.  Why should you get as attached to a house and community as to a person?  I feel the same emotions but its not acceptable to others to feel this way because I should just move on – after all it is just a house.
 
But here are my five stages of grief over HS2:
  • denial – well this happened on the first day when I couldn’t really believe what the letter through my door had said – there must have been some mistake that this was happening to me.
  • anger – I know I have certainly felt this at various times!  Mostly angry that if this was ever a possibility that this estate shouldn’t have been allowed to be built.  Angry that we have no clear information.  Many others on the estate are really angry at Strata for not supporting us more and at HS2 employees for putting us in this situation. 
  • Bargaining – I guess this is probably what the campaigning has been all about for the last few months – trying to grasp at any straws that might change this outcome and make it different.  I think I have come to the end of this and entered the next phase
  • Depression – At the moment I feel completely hopeless with it all and resigned to the awful fact of having to move.  I am not excited by this and the thought makes me really depressed.  I am focusing on other things to try and get through this period.
  • Acceptance – I know the day will come and I look forward to being able to accept what has happened, apply for compensation and start planning a new life somewhere else.  But when there is still a small glimmer of hope that the consutation may change the outcome for us then I can’t get here.  

 

 
Sorry this has been a slightly depressing post – as usual I write how I am and how I am is slightly depressed today.  But I guess to finish on a positive – I still have the joy of the Lord in my heart, because I know that he will work this out to his glory – wherever we end up and whatever happens this has been an opportunity to get closer to God and closer to others on the estate and I will always love that.  
 
 
 

 

Mum on a Mission VS the Train – Episode 5

So the update this week is that there is no update.  We are still sat in limbo, waiting for the Secretary of State for transport (Chris Grayling) to make his decision about the route for phase 2 of HS2.  The word on the street is that this will be announced on the 22nd November, but who knows!!  At least the last few weeks our group of campaigners have been able to get out and spread the word in the local community by flyering and doorknocking – it feels good to be doing something practical and helps me to avoid thinking about it all too much (plus have had some great times with my neighbours and friends out doing it!).  There are plans to organise a peaceful protest march through Mexborough where I live, so I am sure I will tell you all about that soon.

This week I was particularly reminded of the following verse:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8

Sometimes our thinking can spiral into downward negative thoughts, especially when we are surrounded by others going through the same awful time as ourselves.  But Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians that our thoughts should be on higher things – than we shouldn’t allow ourselves to wallow in pity and gossip and moaning, but that we should be praising and speaking truth and filling our minds with pure things instead.  How great is that!!

I know it is hard (believe me I have bad days when all I want to do is cry, moan and gossip all day long), but it really can change your whole perspective on things.  So this week I have been trying to think positively about the whole thing and praise God for the opportunities it has brought.

I have also been reminded yet again to fight in the right way – yes campaigning is great and we all have our own ideas of what will get results (petitions, protests, letter writing etc), but unless I start with prayer then it is pointless.  So this week I have made a point of praying for Chris Grayling – that God will give him wisdom in reviewing all the options for this route.  I have been praying for Ed Miliband our MP, that he will have the strength and information needed to fight for his constituents in front of Chris Grayling.  I have been praying for all the staff at HS2 who have to face the pressure of dealing with grieving and upset residents from along the route every single day – they are still people who have to go home to their families and I pray that as they try to pay the bills they wouldn’t be persecuted. Would you join me in praying?

Mum on a Mission VS the train – episode 4


I am exhausted!

It has been a full on week of HS2 related activity this week, and it has been both exciting and tiring.  Started off on Monday with a planning meeting with our action group, putting together everything we needed to do for a public meeting with the council later in the week.  This was a really positive and proactive meeting and it was nice to be able to open up my home to the group too.

Then Thursday night was all action stations – a public meeting at the local high school to inform people of what has happened since the announcement in July, where we all stood and what the next steps are in fighting this proposed route are.  I had the fun of sitting on the stage for the whole meeting next to the local councillors, Mayor of Doncaster and Ed Miliband!  That is an experience I won’t forget in a while….


But although the meeting didn’t change anything, the energy there was that across Doncaster they are supporting us as we try to fight this new route.  Everyone, although maybe having different opinions on the project as a whole, thinks that this new route is a mistake and are committed to making the government see that. 

Once again I am blown away by the new friends I have made, the conversations I was able to have with concerned local people and the opportunity to make a difference where I live.  God really truly has given me an opening to reach so many people here, and I am taking hold of that with both hands.  Who knows what the next two months will hold – there are protest walks planned, doorknocking to be done and potentially an announcement from the Secretary of State for Transport on what our fate will be.  I will stand firm to oppose this new route with my neighbours, councillors and MP.  MEXBOROUGH SAYS NO!!!




Mum on a Mission vs the Train – episode 3

Episode 3

Sometimes you have to accept that God knows better than you.  At least that is what I have been trying to do given my latest meditation verse (check out my mummy meditation post from this week).  Easier said than done in some situations, especially when so much is at stake.  How can I just sit back and go “not my will but your will” when it comes to HS2 ploughing through my home? (200 homes being demolished to bring economic growth to the north of England makes about as much sense as someone dying to bring life to everyone, but then Jesus’ resurrection changed that so lets hope there is a game changer on this one too….)

But I have been praying the last few weeks that whatever the outcome from the Secretary of State for Transport in November time that I will be at peace with it, and I will see God’s purpose in it.  In the meantime I have stopped being so much of a toddler and crying about it all the time, and I am trying to enjoy the ride.  I have enjoyed getting to know my neighbours so much better and fellow Mexborough people.  There is such as rich diversity of people in our town and I love that!  

I recently got the opportunity to read and review the book “Game Changers” by Gavin and Anne Calver (do head over to Liberti Magazine to check out my review!) and it got me thinking – so many people shy away from what needs to be done in this life to make real positive change.  So many people think it can’t possibly be them that can do anything about the problems we face – whether that be HS2, or anti-social behaviour, or declining church attendance.  But if we make the decision to get on board and just do our part then we can all make a difference. Moses got on board with God, just as Moses Mother did when she wouldn’t let just lie down and let her baby boy be murdered with the rest of the Israelite children.  They didn’t let the challenge ahead overwhelm them, but found strength in God to face it in a different way.  

I want to be a game changer and get this route changed for the benefit of my local community and wider community.  And so I am choosing to do my part and get involved in the campaign.  What can you do to be a game changer where you are?

Mum on a Mission vs the train – Episode 2

Episode 2

Everything has changed.  But also nothing has changed.

Life goes on as normal, but also it doesn’t and it can’t

I am living with two possible futures in my head and have no way of knowing which might happen.  And it is driving me a little bit insane.

This week I reached my breaking point once again.  I had swept all those feelings about the HS2 news under the carpet, trying to happily get on with normal life, but this week they all came flooding out again.  How is it possible to live a normal life with a huge question mark hanging over your head?  I really don’t know.  

I have been trying to look at possibilities for the future in order to not be so down about the fact that our house could be bulldozed.  But in doing this I have gotten myself slightly down about staying and that I can’t have that future just yet.  There are so many ifs and buts that my little brain can’t handle it.  And like I said in my latest Mummy Meditation, my mind has been so full of all the options that nothing else has found space.  

Today though I met another lady on the estate who is a Christian, and she is so lovely.  I know that many of us are praying against this and that is strength in itself, so I am hoping that we can meet up and just talk through things in a godly way and get some perspective.  I am loving that all of this has thrown us together as a community and I am loving all the new people I am meeting on the estate and getting to know even better.  Long may that continue!!  But at the moment, my battle against the train is one that is taking place in my mind – please God help me to win it!


Mum on a mission vs the train: Episode 1


Episode 1

Why can human life always be devalued to just an amount of money? 

Animals are irreplaceable, habitats can’t be destroyed as it would have lasting damage, but human communities are worthless and can easily be recreated elsewhere.  Well that’s according to HS2 and our government. 

Our fragile, fledgling community on our brand new estate is worth nothing more than “market value of your house + 10% compensation and reasonable moving costs”.  No value is placed on the relationships built with neighbours or the future needs that will be met through others.  No value is placed on the unique setting in which our homes were built and chosen by us – steps right down onto the canal tow path for early evening walks and a play park in the centre of the estate for children to use.  Nope.  All that can be demolished as long as we have monetary compensation.

I am so glad that my God and Father sees me as more than that. 

“Look at the birds of the air;  they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

I am much more valuable than an animal and I am much more valuable than the price tag put on my and my family’s head by HS2 – I am a child of the living God!