As the last few hours of 2013 disappear like a wisp of smoke into the night sky, I wanted to stop for a moment, pause, reflect, and give thanks.It's easy to just rush on into another year without actually stopping to say thank you for the past year. And sure enough I know that there have been challenges, there ARE challenges, and yes there will be challenges in the future too. And life is not at all straightforward, simple, uncomplicated and 2013 has borne witness to that in many ways. I'm sure for many, if not all, parents and carers of people with special needs, 2013 will have had its ups and downs, tears and tantrums, triumphs and disasters, heartbreak and celebrations.
Yet it is in these moments that our friends come to us, to share with us in whatever it is we're enjoying or enduring. And when I say friends, I include the many people I have never met personally, but whom I have only met on social media platforms. Isn't it amazing that we can receive more encouragement from a parent we have never met, who lives in another part of the country, and sometimes overseas, than we have ever received from friends and family who we see regularly, who know our struggles, who see our stress, our pain and sometimes they may even see our tears, yet seem incapable of extending the hand of help or word of encouragement we so desperately need.
I'm not saying this to do anyone down; rather the opposite. I wish to lift people up and honour the wonderful, amazing people who have made a difference to me in the past 12 months. And if you're reading this and wondering if I mean you, then I probably do. I won't single anyone out. But there are people who have inspired me by writing such wonderful blogs, newspaper and magazine articles, sent messages of encouragement and challenge through Twitter and Facebook. Some of you I have met, and the pleasure was all mine; others I would love to meet at some point in the future. Some are personal friends, some are even relatives!
To you all I say a heartfelt and mighty Thank You!
Your words make a difference. There's a wonderful piece of poetry which begins:
"My heart is stirred by a noble theme
as I recite my verses for the king;
my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer."
So your words - our words - make a huge difference to someone, whether we speak or write let our words be the words of a skillful writer - someone who knows their craft, someone who knows that in our words is the power of life or death, to build up or to tear down, to encourage or to discourage. Thank you, my friends, for choosing words of life, words of affirmation, words of love, words of inclusion, words of challenge, words of strength.............words of hope.
May you enjoy a peaceful and blessed 2014 and beyond.
Paul (and Emily) x