We have now been living in Westy Estate for a whole year. Whilst we definitely feel settled, twelve months in our area is barely scratching the surface: our neighbours on one side have lived there forty-plus years and on the other side, more than twenty. Even the Hungarian family behind our house have lived there about seven; we are still definitely newcomers.
We’ve learnt a lot of lessons in our time here; from basic bike security, to being generous when you don’t have much to give. I talked about the challenges of hospitality in a small home previously, but even as we undergo building work to build a bigger table, we’ve been offered meals and kitchens by multiple people in homes smaller than our own.
Our week generally involves a community meal with local families, helping run a local pay-what-you-feel cafe, meeting local kids at the Eden Latchford youth drop-in, and going to our wonderfully welcoming church: Life Church Warrington.
Children need love, attention and affirmation. Lack of this is both a symptom and a cause of many of the problems on our estate.
One area we have been spending our time is in getting to know young people, especially those with more challenging behaviour. At the same time, we have been undergoing preparation for potentially adopting to expand our family.
Much of the understanding we’ve gained in these two areas has overlapped: children need love, attention and affirmation. Lack of this is both a symptom and a cause of many of the problems on our estate.
I was at my parent’s house this weekend, and I heard my son squealing with happiness in the garden. He let out a joyful shout of “Yay! I did it!“. Peering out the window, I could see my brother teaching the kids how to do cartwheels.
Children need to do cartwheels! They need to play, and learn skills, and be loved and valued and taught by the adults in their life. They need thousands and thousands of “Yay! I did it!” moments:
“Yay! I did it! I walked my first step!”
“Yay! I did it! I wiped my own bum!”
“Yay! I did it! I recognised a number!”
“Yay! I did it! I shared my toys!”
“Yay! I did it! I dressed myself!”
“Yay! I did it! I read a whole book!”
“Yay! I did it! I finished my homework!”
“Yay! I did it! I refused to bully someone!”
“Yay! I did it! I got the academic achievement I was hoping for!”
“Yay! I did it! I got engaged!”
“Yay! I did it! I chose helping people over materialism in my career!”
“Yay! I did it! I demonstrated selflessness and patience in my marriage!”
“Yay! I did it! I had my first child, and I’ve got the foundations to raise them with love, strength and grace!”
God stands at my side and gives me the strength I need for today.
2 Timothy 4:17
All of us need someone standing at our side and giving us strength; if we are to be Jesus’ hands and feet, we need to be doing it too. As we start our second year in Westy, my prayer is that we can experience more “Yay!” moments in our own lives, and in those of others.
I should also probably learn how to do cartwheels.