Updated: May 26
“It’s hard to grow up when no one else is important to you” - By Olivia Humphries Associate Partner of Lighthouse International Community Group.
For siblings of those who are vulnerable, with disabilities, I see you. In this article I want to share personally about someone very very special to me. My Sister 'Brolly Brave'. In this article I want to appeal to those warm hearted carers, the soldiers of society. I support you wholeheartedly. Those who feel it deeply within themselves the desire to help others, to serve others and to lead others. That takes courage and it is the greatest work any human being can do, we need each other, this is a rallying cry to you!
Life is about service, not self indulgence...
I wanted to share personally from something that has touched my heart so deeply and is something I know has influenced my life for the better, and will continue to as I continue on my journey of growth and development. What I am going to go on and share is how my sister Gabriella, nickname 'Brolly Brave' has been my first but not last mentor. Brolly has been my greatest teacher for the last 30 years. I've always deeply felt this work and resonated with mentoring, coaching and counselling but I know I just didn't know how to communicate it. Everything Brolly Brave has taught me, I have always felt right from early days and when I first received counselling, it was like embers of a fire inside lit up and burst into flame and I wanted to share what I was learning to help others.
My sister 'Brolly Brave' has been one of my biggest motivators for doing this work. The reason I call her 'Brolly Brave' is because Gabriella has a severe form of epilepsy called 'Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome'. Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) is a type of epilepsy. Those with LGS experience many different types of seizures including: Tonic - stiffening of the body. Atonic - temporary loss of muscle tone and consciousness, causing the person to fall suddenly. Whilst I was growing up with Brolly (who is 3 years older than me) she would have very stressful and life threatening drop fits. My childhood was spent looking after Brolly and many trips to A&E due to her seizures. Brolly has endured so many painful injuries due to her fits. One of her worst was whilst she was at the special needs school she went to when she was a little girl and having a drop fit seizure on the tarmac outside which resulted in her landing on her face. The impact of the fall meant her teeth were wedged so far back into her gums that she needed extensive surgery to remove them. Brolly is so brave, and has suffered greatly due to this awful condition. Brolly has really been my greatest teacher and has given me an inherent desire to help others and to serve because I realise through my experience of growing up with her that there are so many in this world that are vulnerable and need the help. It is heart breaking that there is so much suffering in this world. I look at my sister and my heart swells with love and protection for her... but it's not just about me helping her...
How my sister has saved me...
Being born into a family that didn't see me, Brolly through all of her struggles and pain actually ended up saving me. Brolly being so vulnerable and innocent, not smothered with layers of conditioning and layers of protection meant she was my one life line. Brolly Brave, as many times as she needed saving physically actually saved my life because due to her vulnerability, that meant we both had easy access to have a heart to heart connection. Two souls, two children, one severely disabled, one misunderstood and 'the black sheep' of the family, Brolly helped me stay connected to my heart when all around was dark, chaotic and the family around us breaking down. The intimacy of 'in-to-me-I-see' to experience one another, the good, the joyful, the painful, the scary and a woman who now still finds herself on her knees at times, but to surrender to the joyful wonders of life. We received each other. People within my family now do not even come close to understanding that vulnerability. Yet Brolly guarded my heart as strongly as I guarded her, as her protective younger sister...my older sister saved me.
“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.” – Brené Brown
In light of a great classic song there's so many words that resonate with listening to my heart..."I know there's something in the wake of your smile, I get a notion from the look in your eyes"... "and there are voices that want to be heard, so much to mention but you can't find the words"... "Sometimes you wonder if this fight is worth while, the precious moments are all lost in the tide, yeah they're swept away and nothing is what it seems the feeling of belonging to your dreams."
The lessons from Brolly are life lessons that Paul Waugh (@PaulWaugh64) is communicating to me verbally through his mentorship that she couldn’t express (she is non verbal) but what I have always felt and I currently still feel. This is why I want to communicate this. My first mentor has been Brolly, and she still teaches me so much. Brolly because of who she is and how brave she is and what she represents is actually what brought me to this work. She reminds me of service and caring for others when I get lost in my own selfishness, she reminds me of why I am doing this work, and we all need reminders as do we all need mentors. She was my first, but she certainly won't be my last.
When I first started my mentorship journey with Warren Vaughan when I was 23 years old I could hardly express myself yet I felt so much. I would often cry at the distinctions Warren would share with me and I would get so frustrated with myself because I struggled to articulate how I was feeling. I realise that a lot of the feeling I had and still have increasingly is due to my experience growing up with Brolly. To sit with her whilst she was in agony and feel desperate to take the pain away is something you can never communicate with someone unless they have experienced something similar. One of my youngest memories with Brolly was when both her and I were in the bath, and we were little kids. My mum wasn't in the bathroom with us when Brolly as quick as a flash had one of her drop fit seizures and fell back completely submerged in the water and couldn't breathe. Without thinking as a 3/4 year old I picked up her head out of the water so she didn't drown. It was experiences like these that taught me from a very young age the importance of helping others because life is so very fragile.
Brolly has helped me find something within myself that is much bigger than me, and that is through all the pain and suffering, true joy comes through service. I still have so much to learn and embrace but Brolly has truly been that catalyst for me to want to help others as it starts in our hearts! The joy that comes through service is unparalleled, because the joy that comes through learning and service is creation. It means the creation of joy and peace for others.
I will forever be grateful to Paul Waugh because he has been teaching me and all of us at Lighthouse this very thing. And this one in particular is so profound, as it is one of true service. Something that I know of about Paul himself. Here is a man who will fight for children, fight for the vulnerable and will stand for righteousness and truth. Paul, despite all of his fallibilities is the only person I know who gets such joy through serving others that there have been many occasions where he has bought an entire group of people a drink yet has forgotten to buy his own. A few bystanders who have observed The Waugh Rooms have questioned why we at Lighthouse International Group have taken the stand and stance that we are to stand up for truth and have been so firm but it is because we have been learning what we stand for and what we will stand up for. I will not allow myself and those I care about to be violated, and I am proud to stand up for that. I'm learning more about that day by day and week by week. This is why we stand up to the online trolls and cherish the child standard, to live by it because we are here to protect the vulnerable and the children of this world which is Christ’s commandment.
What is the Child Standard?
Our work at Lighthouse International Group is, and always has been about pursuing the highest ideal for everything we do in our lives, our families, our relationships, our careers and/or business and everything it takes to put the needs of ALL children first, starting with the child within first. That's why it is called The Child Standard. This is a standard that says we ought to never, ever be in a situation where we have to deny a vulnerable or a fragile child their basic fundamental needs...ever! This applies both inside and outside of our front doors, and inside and outside our very own souls, and anything less than this would NOT be seeking the highest human ideal possible. As individuals and as an organisation, it's the standard we choose to measure all our decisions and choices by and which we are pursuing, at all times, as much as is humanly possible. Imagine if just 1 in 10 people globally adopted this as their primary standard for their lives...what would that mean for our children?
We have a responsibility to look after our children as parents, as leaders, as brothers and sisters.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”- James 1:27
What have I personally learnt through my experiences with Brolly Brave and what holds me (or any of us) back to achieving anything?
I know I struggled as a child with added loads of responsibility that wasn't mine to bear. However whilst I had to 'grow up quickly' (a term used by many to explain more a lack of your needs being met, not genuine maturation), there were many silver linings to growing up with a special sister like Brolly, and I really do mean special. The innocence in her eyes and the relief on her face when she came round from a dreaded seizure and broke into laughter because she was just happy to see you... despite the pain she had just been through and being exhausted. Or the many trips around Morrisons where she'd launch to grab bananas out of her "next victims" trolley refusing to give them back... There have been many joyful moments of laughter and nothing brings me or those in my family joy like seeing Brolly pain free and enjoying herself. However there were times when I was a child that I resented the extra pressure and responsibility to look after my sister. That there is something I have spoken of in therapy and it's taught me a lot. I forgive myself now because I know any resentment I had towards myself was towards my parents for the added stress and responsibility I felt (and I forgive them too). However I can never imagine feeling that anti value, that selfishness again. Although this is humanity’s biggest issue, and I obviously still have my battles with it. You see what Paul Waugh has helped me understand is that not only does selfishness self destruct but "To the degree I am selfish, in other words, self-centred, self-oriented, self directed, as in, everything is about my own selfish needs. Is to the extent that I am limited." - Paul Stephen Waugh.
When you think of our children and our vulnerable, how could we deny them the love, the peace, the joy, the trust, the long suffering, the faith and the gentleness they need? What really stands out to me is that to the degree I am selfish, to the degree my motivation for doing this work is all about me, the irony is this will always result in me failing and trying to get out of doing the work, self extending and genuinely serving. For me this distinction particularly hits home for me and strikes at my conscience because I realise that in not working on myself and working to discover and find to address my own unconscious selfishness... the vulnerable like my sister Brolly suffer. This is rife throughout this world. So so many are stifled by their own greed wanting the rewards of work, wanting all the fruits without being willing to do the work to achieve those fruits. This makes for a very sick humanity that neglects our children and our vulnerable which is happening in the millions this very second globally.
Those who have resorted to sustained online trolling accept no responsibility for their own acts of selfish self sabotage and therefore blame others, in particular us here at Lighthouse International for their lack of progress, lack of follow through and lack of humility. The bottom line is nothing restricts and gets in the way of your progress to genuinely serve and create value like selfishness.
Paul Waugh has helped me to see that I cannot truly grow up to be a healthy growing adult to the degree I am lost in my own selfishness and self indulgence. Paul has also helped me understand the importance of getting my 'mental attitude' (MA) and 'modus operandi' (MO) right! The MAMO for me has to be to stop working on a selfish level and start working on an affluent level. To feel passion, concern, care, love, affection, good will, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, faith and all of the fruitages of The Holy Spirit. To feel those things, so my work, in living my values by working out what their congruent behaviours of them are to truly embody them is what makes anyone a truly virtuous human being. I know I couldn't care for Brolly whilst being so self absorbed and disconnected from my values and yearning to discover what their congruent behaviours are...
“To the degree I am selfish, to the degree I am doing things for my own greed, for my own selfishness I will not have the wherewithal to follow through at the level I need to to produce the result I want. Ultimately we become so selfish that we deny ourselves!” Paul Stephen Waugh
What are those who resort to online trolling showing themselves and the world about their behaviour?
You can see the blatant lunacy of those who are resorting to trolling Lighthouse International by their lack of responsibility taking for their own growth in trying to get out of being held accountable to truly look at themselves and their failures to grow up. Online trolling is a truly selfish, destructive, childish and a cowardly act. To the degree you are selfish you cannot optimise your life or produce what you want to create. Because that selfishness is a flaw. Selfishness is never, ever, ever a virtue, only a destructive flaw and I am calling out all of the trolls for their unrighteous, unrepentant ugly behaviour and stand by Paul Waugh as he stands up to this tyranny to protect our children and our vulnerable.
And here's something personal that reminds me of 'Brolly Brave'
This is a song that reminds me of my sister because her full name is Gabriella. This particular song also fits so well with the importance of serving. It makes me cry every single time I hear it and reminds me of the gift of life and the true joy in serving. 'Gabriel' by Kodaline:
Thank you so much to all the courageous souls of Lighthouse International who are facing this continuous adversity from those who are hell bent on destruction and destroying others. Not to forget Paul Stephen Waugh for his continuous love and leadership, Warren Vaughan for his undying support and of course my sister Brolly who inspires me every single day. God bless her and all those who are vulnerable and our children across the globe.
To learn more about the Foundation I am building 'The Brolly Brave Foundation' please do message me personally. Or if you yourself or anyone you know would like to speak to one of us here at Lighthouse International about standing up to bullying and online trolling or if you would like to learn more about the profound wisdom about the hinderance of selfishness and the power of service please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more songs that resonate so much check out:
- Guns and Roses- Civil War The reason I put this song here is because there actually is a civil war going on, online. It affects our school children, our families, and it is a national war between our own. We are feeding on each other! The main perpetrators hide behind pseudonyms, under the disguise of civilians all in the name of freedom of speech and expression of opinion. Imagine doing this face to face?
To learn more about our program Parents Against Trolls please visit this link: