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Lillibet: A Welcome Calling

Episode 48

Lillibet: A Welcome Calling

Welcome to the Loved Called Gifted Podcast. This is your place to come for musings about spirituality, identity, and purpose.
I’m your host, Catherine Cowell.

For this episode, I'm really delighted to be joined by Lilibet Goodwin.

Thank you ever so much for doing this, Lilibet.

One of the things that I often do on the podcast is invite people to talk about the things that they are passionate about, the things that they feel called to do.

And quite often, I'll meet somebody or spend a bit of time with someone and think, "I can tell that you've got a real passion for that."

And that makes me really curious to hear your story, really.

So do you want to tell us a little bit about yourself?

L: I am 18.

My mum is the pastor of my church.

I have six siblings and my youngest two siblings are actually adopted.

I'm currently in sixth form and I am studying psychology, drama and health and social care.

C: Excellent.

So your youngest two siblings, can you remember when they came home?

L: My second youngest.

I remember meeting him, but I don't remember the day he came home.

He just kind of was there in my memories.

I don't really remember a time without him because I think I was in year three or four when we adopted him.

You don't remember much more before that, do you?

Me and my mum were talking about it before we did this, actually.

It made me a much more inviting and open-minded person.

It did change the way it is.

It made me welcoming.

Which is how I'm doing what I'm doing today.

C: Yeah.

What is it that you think about having adopted siblings that has opened up that welcoming in you?

L: Well, whenever I tell people my age about it, they're always like, "Oh, that's mental.

You just invited two people into your house."

But for us, it was never really a question of, "Should we do this?"

It was a question of, "Why are we doing this?"

And then when Mum explained their situation, it made us empathetic toward them and we understood.

And from learning about their experiences and learning how we could help them, it put everything in everybody else's life into perspective.

I then looked at other people in a different way.

You're the way you are because of your experiences.

You may need help because of those experiences.

It's just things like that.

C: That's really profound, actually, isn't it?

At a really young age, you've become aware of those things, which are really complex.

I meet a lot of adults who don't get that stuff.

L: Yeah.

C: Yeah.

You probably meet adults who don't get that stuff.

L: I do.

Yeah, I tell adults about my adopted siblings and they're like, "Oh."

They're put off by it a lot of the time and I'm like, "That's so strange to me because how can you not see that it's a good thing?"

Things like that.

So I'll never understand people who don't understand other people's situations, who don't make an effort to put themselves in other people's shoes.

C: So what would you want to say to people about that?

Are there things about children who've had difficult experiences that you think other people ought to know?

L: There's a bad reputation about children in care and things like that, that they're all misbehaving and they're bound to end up in a bad way.

But they're not the reason they're ending up like that.

It's because of the way that society treats them.

And if we were to all take a step back and look at that and then make an extra effort with those children who have been put in serious situations that they had to get taken away from their homes, it would make the world a better place and those children wouldn't end up being known for being bad, basically.

C: Yeah.

So what does it mean for you being an older sister to your two younger siblings?

Well, you've got three younger siblings, haven't you?

L: I have older siblings myself, but being an older sister to little ones, I've watched them grow.

I've helped to look after them and stuff.

Like, I'm at home babysitting a lot because my mum's a busy woman.

She's a pastor of a church.

And I feel like it's such a privilege, really, to get that experience to look after children who aren't mine as well.

You get to see it from a better perspective.

It's such fun, but it can also be like, "Oh, I never get to get away," because I grew up with five siblings.

And being one of the older ones was annoying because you're always looked up to but never given any excuses or anything.

Whereas the little ones, you saw them getting away with things and you were just like, "Oh, that's so annoying.

Why do I not get that?"

Because I was turning three, I had my younger brother, so I've never really experienced being the youngest.

So I've always kind of been older than someone, but I had two older siblings.

So I did get to be younger, but I was never the youngest, really, from my memory.

But it can be fun, but it can also be like, "Ah, I want to parent these kids myself because they're getting away with everything that I didn't get to get away with."

And it's just irritating, but yeah.

C: So would you be stricter, do you think?

L: I don't know.

I say that I would be, but it's more frustrating.

I'm just trying to do my work here, guys, and then being annoying and I'm like, "Oh, get out."

But my mum's like, "No, it's everybody's space."

And I'm like, "Oh, yeah, I get that, but I want this space right now."

I don't think I'd be stricter, but I do think there's certain things that, because I'm my age, I just want things to go my way.

And because I have younger siblings, they're not going my way.

So that's basically what I mean when I say I'd parent them differently.

I just make everything go my way.

C: So how do you get space when you need it?

L: A lot of the time I just go into my bedroom.

I'm quite introverted, so I do prefer my own space.

Sometimes I go to my grandparents because they live next door.

Yeah, I don't find it too hard because we have quite a big house and I'm lucky for that.

I'm very privileged in the fact that I do have my own space and a lot of people don't.

C: Yeah.

So what are you planning to do next year?

L: In September, I am going to Derby University to study creative expressive arts through health and wellbeing, which is essentially art therapy.

C: So it's using all the different types of arts and taking it and using it as a way to 'therapise' someone, yes.


So what is it about art that you love?

L: I love art because it's a way of expressing yourself and helping another person express themselves.

So a lot of the time I can get quite stressed or anxious and a way that will calm me down if something's going on is painting or crocheting.

I love to crochet and knit and just expressing myself in a way that isn't black and white and taking my feelings and putting them out there.

And I love being able to do that with other people as well.

So I work in an after school club and when we're doing arts and stuff, I just love watching all the kids use the paints in their different ways.

And it's just something that brings me a lot of joy to do.

C: Yeah.

You made us some amazing crocheted flowers for our wedding.

They're beautiful.

L: I love making them because it's a way of expressing myself and I feel it's beautiful.

So yeah.

C: I wonder how much of that for you comes with being an introvert that there is when you're doing art, you take a lot of time, don't you, over expressing something?

L: Yeah.

I love to be by myself.

So if I take myself away to express it by myself, I just enjoy creating something.

And it's just, I don't know, putting all my feelings down that I might not want to say out loud.

It's just, it's really effective, I find.

C: Yeah.

And you find that with the children that you work with too?

L: Yeah.

I find that if someone's feeling stressed and you say, 'Oh, do you want to get out the paints?'

then they all get excited and then they get it all over themselves.

But they've had a good time and you can see that they're getting it out.

They're getting everything out from the day they've spent all day in school.

And I just think art is such a great way to unwind as well.

C: So what are you hoping to do after university?

L: So I actually plan to get a PGCE and to then do teaching, but then I would get a specialisation in special needs and I would do art therapy for special needs children in schools.

C: Fantastic.

And that's the thing that I thought, 'Ah, it'd be really interesting to hear about your journey towards wanting to do that.'

So when was the first time that you spent time with children with special needs?

L: Yeah, I think I was in year six.

I was like 12, 13 and me and my mum went to the school I actually work at now, but the school I'd gone to when I was younger for a summer fair.

And we met up with my mum's friend Kathy and her son Guy.

Guy has severe autism and is non-verbal and at the time I'd never met anybody like this before.

I just took a liking to him and just adored him and I spent the day with him.

I just enjoyed his presence.

Like I said, I'd never met anybody like that.

But he gave me such a sense of joy and once I came away from the situation, I just like, I knew that I just wanted to spend my life being with people like Guy.

And when I came home, me and my mum had a chat and she was just saying, 'Tell me about Guy, like tell me about your day.'

And I was like, I had the most amazing time with Guy.

Like I've never felt so full of joy in someone's presence.

And she was like, 'Well, is that what you want to do?'

And I just knew then and I'd always wanted to do teaching.

I'd always loved being around children.

And I just thought, 'Oh, maybe I'll do teaching for children with special needs as these are two of my favourite things.'

I was sitting in year six and I was like, 'Oh, I know what I'm doing now.'

C: That's amazing.

So it was a real kind of key moment that you'll always get to look back on and say that was the moment that I knew.

L: Definite.

C: So I actually had a conversation with Kathy for one of the podcasts.

So she tells a story about Guy, if people want to listen to that.

Have you spent time with other young people with special needs at this point?

L: Not at that point, but now I have.

So in year 12, I went to the school, Kemble.

It's Kemble Special School.

So it's a school for children with special educational needs, whether that be a physical disability or a learning disability.

So there was a whole range of disabilities there.

And it was genuinely like one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

It was wonderful.

I got to meet loads of like people who cared about the same things I did.

And then I also met some of the most wonderful special needs children.

And in fact, I walked in to the room I was going to help out in and this one boy just came up to me and decided he liked me.

He couldn't speak, but he just held onto my hand and all the teachers are like, 'Whoa, we've never seen him do this before.'

And in that moment, I knew he was the one with special needs, but I felt special and I felt wanted.

And that was like one of those like amazing moments that you're like, 'Oh, wow, this is what I want to do.'

C: That's amazing.

Do you want to tell us a bit more about your time in the school?

L: So that's the school that Guy attends.

And I applied to work there for work experience.

And I just thought, wow, this is amazing.

Their school motto is 'We can because we try.'

And I just think that's so beautiful because a lot of people will meet people with special needs and be like, 'Wow, there's not a lot we can do for them.'

But these people, as much as I believed it before, they gave such a purpose to these lives.

All of the people there had such a passion for working with these children.

They were also caring and the children there just seemed so happy and they all were a part of something.

It was a great community and they'd all know each other.

A lot of them didn't speak.

Actually, I watched their summer show.

So they have a winter show and they have a summer show and their winter show is for the lower school.

And me and Mum always go to see that because that's what Guy's in.

And it's like a nativity or something Christmassy and their summer show I'd never seen before.

And it was the oldest student.

So I think that goes up to probably 16.

And it was just so beautiful.

It was like a musical and it was just so inclusive.

Even the children who couldn't speak and were in a wheelchair, and I'm not even sure what some of them were aware of what they were doing, they were still included.

There were still pictures of them everywhere.

Everybody was included no matter what your situation was.

No matter if you were blind, you couldn't talk, you didn't have arms.

Everybody was included and it was just beautiful.

And I was crying the whole time.

And I had a little boy on my knee the whole time trying to distract me but I was like, "No, I'm watching this."

It was genuine.

All of the able-bodied people there were like, "Wow, this is beautiful."

We were all sobbing.

It's so emotional and so just wonderful.

It was just really eye-opening.

I'd love to be able to see their summer show again because seeing the older children as well, it's so different to seeing the younger children.

Because a lot of them are aware of their situation and they are aware of the children around them that some of them won't survive much longer.

They get a lot of losses in that school.

It's just awful really.

But at least the time that they did have, they spent in such a beautiful place.

C: What is it that you think that that school does for the pupils, the students?

L: I think it's just, it's including them.

They just create such a sense of ‘you're important’ to every single one of them students.

Every single person in that school believes they belong to be there.

They all enjoy it because there's so much inclusivity.

Everybody's just welcomed.

I was welcomed and they didn't know me.

Anybody who goes there is just treated with so much respect.

It doesn't matter what situation you're in, what's going on in your life, what your disability is, you will be treated with the same respect as any other person there or with the same amount of care as any other person there.

So it's just the equality within that school that's just beautiful.


C: That's such a powerful message to tell everybody, isn't it?

You're important.

L: Yeah.

C: And you have a place, you're included.

L: Yeah.

A feeling of belonging is so important, especially within a school.

It can be rare in today's society.

That's what makes it so special.


C: It's interesting because when you were first talking about your family, that's been a theme for you, hasn't it?

Creating a place of belonging for people.

L: My family's always been very welcoming and they've always believed in compassion and things like that.

And bringing anybody in no matter the situation and including everybody when you can.

And just having such a sense of empathy about you and doing your best to understand what somebody's going through.

Because you never know, do you really?

C: So you fit really well in this family.

L: Yeah.

C: Definitely.

Well, you've helped make it what it is too, don't you?

You're part of that.

How does your faith connect with what you do?

L: Well, I've always been a part of a church.

My mum even runs the church that I'm in now.

We church planted and it was a big effort for everybody who was there from the beginning.

But because it's always been something that I had known was God, when we began to church plant, I was someone who served and welcomed.

It never really felt like something that I was being served and welcomed into.

And I kind of lost a sense of who am I within this.

I just thought I'm here to just do it for everybody else.

And then because of my interactions with Guy and Kathy, my mum decided to invite Kathy to church.

And Kathy came and so did Guy.

And Guy is where I found my belonging.

I realised God is guiding me through looking after Guy.

I knew who I was when I was looking after Guy because it gave me an opportunity to find myself and figure out what I wanted to do.

And it really built my faith up.

And I knew then that caring and serving is what I was supposed to do.

It wasn't what I was being forced into doing because I was part of the church plant.

It was what I was put there to do and it was what my God journey was about, helping other people and caring for other people.

C: So what was the part of yourself that kind of felt like it came alive?

L: I'm not really too sure.

I don't really know.

I just like, I came away after spending that time with Guy in church and just feeling that positive about church in a way that I'd never felt before.

Because church has just always been something I'd done, it's not something I'd wanted to do.

It was kind of like school, it was just something that happened on a Sunday.

I always believed in God, I've never not believed in God.

But it was Guy being there created a reason for me to be there and that's how I then was able to find my relationship with God.

Because I wasn't just there because mum told me to be, I was there because I wanted to be there.

So yeah, that was the difference for me.

C: Yeah, so suddenly you sort of felt much more centred in yourself maybe?

L: Yeah, I was just more sure who I was and where mine and God's relationship was going and what he wanted me to do.

C: Yeah, so what's being with God like for you?

L: There's not like a sense of, 'Oh, he's here.'

It's a sense of, 'I'm doing this because God wants me to do this and that's what God thinks is right for me.'

I mean, I'm not super developed within my faith, that's something I can admit.

I'm doing Bible studies, I did Alpha last year.

I'm trying to figure it out.

I'm only 18, I'm not sure.

But I do believe in God and I do believe mine and God's relationship is developing every single day.

Every time I take myself away to pray and things like that.

But being with God for me, it is caring for people and feeling like I've done what God would really like me to do in that situation.

And it's like if I have a difficult situation, I can feel which way God would want me to go.

And that's what being with God is, is recognising what God would want me to do and recognising the way that God would want me to act.

For me it's not like a sense, I can't feel him there like other people can.

I can't hear him but I can sense what he wants me to do and that's my way of being with God is what would God want me to do.

That's how I try and be with him, yeah.

C: When you were talking about that day that you met Guy and you came home with that sense of joy and I remember when we talked about it before we'd had this conversation, you said that you had a real sense of peace.

L: Yeah, peace.

C: That sounds very much to me like God within you.

L: Yeah, my mum said that.

She said that she thinks it's like that's God putting that in me to know that that's what I'm going to do.

That was God implanting that and it is God in me, yeah.

C: Yeah, I'm just thinking about all the time that Jesus spent with people that other people wouldn't have wanted to be with and enabled them to feel like they were important, that they belonged.

And that sounds like there's such a synergy, isn't there, between what you are wanting to offer and what you find that you get from people with special needs.

There's such a close match there, isn't there?

L: Definitely.

I was talking to my mum about this podcast, I was saying like, 'Oh, I don't know what I'm going to say about my faith and stuff within this' and she was like, 'Well, just say that that is a peace of God.

God's heart is in yours, the way you talk about these people and you want to be with the people that people tend to push away in society.

He doesn't want, that's a peace of God's heart in yours.'

And I was like, 'Oh, it feels a bit self-centred, like, 'Oh yeah, God's chosen me' and whatever, but it's like, yeah, I can see what, in the way that Jesus wanted to be with those people that were pushed out and were disliked, it is similar, yeah, so.

C: Yeah, definitely.

And Jesus says that he is in those people that we serve.

He says, 'Well, every time you gave a glass of water or you looked after what you referred to as the least of these, then you were serving me.'

So I wonder if there are moments when you get that sense of being with Jesus when you're with these young people.

L: Well, when I get that sense of peace, that I do agree that that is Jesus, that must be, that that is God.

C: Yeah, I'm thinking of the little boy when you talked about going into the classroom and he took you by the hand and you felt like you belonged.

L: Yeah, and it was like, yeah, that special feeling of being a part of something, it's really powerful and special to be welcomed into things like that.

And you do feel so special and wanted.


C: So it really sounds to me like Jesus was welcoming you through that little boy and that you welcome people.

And I know that your friendship with Guy has just made such a big difference to the whole of that family.

L: Yeah.

One of the ways I think that God has worked through me is in bringing Kathy into church because through me, she felt comfortable enough to bring Guy to church because for Kathy, she couldn't bring him to many places.

It was just too difficult.

She wasn't sure if people were going to welcome him in, but she knew that I was there and she trusted me.

And that sense of trust that she gave to me made me feel even more sure that I could do what she wanted me to do.

And in those two hours that I became Guy's carer, it gave Kathy a freeness to be with other people.

And she got so much love and so much comfort and support from that church that now it's one of her favourite times of the week.

And she is now baptised.

And so is her daughter who joined church because of Kathy being like, "It's great.

Come, come, please, please."

And they're both baptised and they both have a strong faith and they are both following Jesus.

And one thing she said is that being able to be comfortable within church is that she needed a catalyst and that catalyst was me.

And I gave her the opportunity to come and be a part of something that now has changed her life.

And I know it sounds like I'm tooting my own horn a bit, but I hadn't realised the impact I was making by doing just looking after someone who made me happy.

It was almost selfish because I loved being with Guy.

I was like, "Yeah, give them to me.

I love chilling with this guy."

But it has really impacted.

I think that was God working through me to impact these people's lives.

As much as it's impacted mine, he's used me to give this family a church family.

C: Yeah, and that's really special.

And they are such a blessing, aren't they?

Kathy's been a huge blessing to me.

L: Yeah, they're such beautiful people.

Kathy always, whenever we have a chat, makes me feel so good about myself.

She's such a positive person.

You end up talking to her and then you come away like, "I'm wonderful, aren't I?"

Because she's just so positive.

I remember at the time of Kathy first joining, I was quite low because I had issues going on at school.

I'd speak to Kathy on Sunday and I would just be full of sunshine.

I'd come away from it feeling so much better about myself, so much more positive because she believed that I was beautiful and that made me believe I was beautiful.

C: There's a lot in that, isn't there, about community and family and all of those beautiful interactions that you get so much from being with Guy and he gets a lot from being with you and Kathy gets such a lot from...

It's wonderful, isn't it, how love just interweaves in all of those relationships.

It's amazing.

L: Yeah, all the bonds within that are just so beautiful and there's so much love, so much love, yeah.

C: Did you have other things you've not had a chance to say?

Because I know you put a lot of work into prepping for this.

What do you think God feels about people with special needs?

L: I believe that God believes in inclusivity and that love should be equal for everyone and that every single person was created in His image, so everybody is just as beautiful as each other and everybody is equal and that I truly believe that it can be easier to see God in those pure people with special needs who have that naivety and that purity about them because they're just pure.

They have such a beautiful sense of purity that you don't see in people who are more able-minded and don't have those things because the society, it seeps in, you get these negative thoughts, you think things like that, but those people who like Guy, he knows the world black and white, he sees it as it is.

He sees the beauty in the world that we sometimes struggle to see.

I think there's a reason to remind us that there is a simpler way to live.

They are different and that the world would be boring without the difference as well.

So not only are they pure and not only are they beautiful in that sense, but without the difference, the world's boring, isn't it?

It's important that we have the difference in the world, otherwise we'd all be the same.

That'd be pointless, wouldn't it?

C: It would, it would.

How do you think you've been changed in your view of the world by working with these people?

L: Well, I think, like I said right at the start, you don't just look at someone and see them one way.

I now look at someone and try to understand them on a deeper level.

I won't just judge them.

When I initially see them, I will think, what have you been through?

I will think there's a reason people are the way they are.

But also within myself, I try to have a more like open-minded view about things, about myself as well.

As much as I can see the beauty in someone else, why couldn't I see that in myself?

If I'm looking at these children and I'm like, oh, you're so beautiful, you're so pure, that then helps me to find it within myself and to pull my childlike heart out and to be pure within and beautiful and see that in myself.

C: That's amazing.

Yeah, I see that in you.

You kind of go about the place with a real gentleness.

I know there's a couple of times you said, oh, it feels like I'm, I can't remember the words you used, but you're sort of bigging yourself up.

You've just spoken really honestly about who you are and how you see things.

And you don't, you don't at all go around arrogantly.

That's just like, that's so far from how you are.

You've got a real gentleness and a beauty about you.

L: Thank you.

C: Thank you so much for this conversation, Lillibet.

It's been wonderful.

L: Thank you.

It's been great.

I loved it.

Thank you.

Hope you enjoyed this episode of the Loved Called Gifted podcast. If you’d like to get in touch, you can email You can find a transcript of this podcast at and that’s also the place to go if you’re interested in the Loved Called Gifted course or if you’d like to find out about spiritual direction or coaching.
Thank you for listening.

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