Back in 2001, I was a busy mum of two with number three on the way. I was working as a childminder, and the previous year I had set up our church’s toddler group to help support local families. In my experience, it was important to share the delights and challenges of parenthood with other mums and dads.
In August my youngest was born and at first all appeared well, yet our lives would soon change forever. Driving along with my now two-week-old in the car, I had a crash. Within hours, I was in a coma. My brain had suffered a haemorrhage and was swelling; the doctors told my family that if I survived the night, I would be in a vegetative state. The church prayed for a miracle, and incredibly, after five days in the coma, I not only survived but woke with normal brain function! After a short period of recuperation I was discharged and went back home to my family.
Unfortunately, my time in hospital was not over. Shortly after coming home, I suffered a grand mal seizure. When I began to come round in hospital, it felt like I was in a strange dream. The seizure had provoked a stroke, and I am now registered blind and continue to have partial aphasia.
It took me three months in hospital to recover from the episode. During this time I spent many hours talking with God, asking “What can I do now?” Over those months, God began to build a vision within me. One morning in the early hours, awake and upset, I reached for the Gideon’s Bible next to my bed. Unable to read because of my damaged sight, I opened it anyway, landing at Matthew 6.25–34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…” The words illuminated off the page at me. God was telling me not to worry; it was all in his hands. This was affirmed for me by Philippians 4.13 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” I was finally discharged in December 2001, and alongside my family I began adapting to the changes that had taken place.
Time passed, and God kept building his vision in me. During one Sunday service two people approached me, separately, to speak the words, “You will be a mother to the mothers”. I found the phrase overwhelming – how could I help others when I was still learning myself? But God had his plans. In 2003, whilst I was praying with a friend, he showed me a picture of a room: it was full of people from all backgrounds and abilities, ministering to one another over coffee – a beacon of light to the community.
So, since that time, what has happened to the small toddler group I started? Has the vision God gave me been fulfilled? Well, the journey began and is a road still very much being travelled. Our first step was moving from the church building into a large hall down the road where we were able to establish ourselves and grow, both in numbers and in our relationships with the families. In 2011 our new church building opened, providing better facilities for our growing needs, and we have recently been able to open the beginnings of a sensory space. Currently, we are doing the important work of building our team, making sure the strong foundations are in place so that we can accommodate extra sessions, parenting groups and discussion boards in the future.
I hope to see the group continue to flourish, just as God has planned. And I know one thing for sure: if he can use me, he can use anybody!