September 17, 2014

Falling Skies

 I am not sure how it happened but I found myself interested in a sci-fi series called 'Falling Skies'... Last night we watched the latest episode and today something about it struck a cord with me. The premise of the show is that an alien species has declared war on earth and is seeking to make a hybrid human/alien. It's weird... I realize this. (Again, I state that I have no idea how I got sucked into this show).

In the episode that last night the aliens send a weapon into the territory where rebel humans were hiding out. It was a space ship/egg thing that landed in the middle of their make shift town, and when it landed a fog came out of it and started spreading through the whole town. If a person got trapped in the fog (inevitable since it's fog and you can't hide from it) it glued the person to the spot they were in. They were defenseless. Once the person was stuck, a snake like alien attacked and seeked to latch itself to the person, not killing them, but changing them into a monster/alien. (The hybrid I suppose).

I look around me and I see so much pain and grief and sorrow, in our life, in the lives of friends and in the lives of the strangers we pass on the street, or really, any time we turn on the news these days. Pain, sorrow, grief, worry, fear, anxiety, anger; they are all like that fog. They move into our lives stealthy, then they trap us and we become paralyzed by it, defenseless, unable to move forward. If we do nothing we risk it turning us into something we don't recognize, someone angry, someone so drawn into themselves that they can't see beyond that fog, basically a very ugly version of the person we are.

Two of the characters in the show were trapped in the fog, the fear and the unknown were inevitable. The 'general' and a young boy just turned teenager were alone in a room and the boy was scared. The general was giving him a pep talk and he said 'We will keep fighting' and the two, though stuck and totally defenseless began to chant it. "WE WILL FIGHT TO THE END"

The chant didn't save them, I won't tell you how they got out or of they did (on the off chance a reader isn't caught up) because it's not the point of what I am trying to say. The point is the desire to keep fighting, even when thoroughly stuck in the fog that is consuming us.

I find that sometimes the fear and worry or the sadness and anger in my own life sometimes becomes so enveloping, so all encompassing, that it seems there is just no way out. There is no where to move, no where to run, and not enough strength to move if I wanted too. This past few weeks I have been hearing clearly God saying to me 'We will fight to the end"; not those words exactly of course, but words just as comforting and empowering as the words that the general spoke to the young boy.

The danger isn't gone, the words don't change the situation, they don't heal, they don't move time, they don't rescue, they don't grant wishes... but as I thought about that scene from the show last night I realized this. The general was stuck in the fog with the boy, he wasn't standing above it, or sitting in a safe spot. He was down in the fog with the boy. Isn't that so much like our God? Down on our level, facing the fog with us, and yet encouraging us to keep fighting all the while.

Just to clarify... I don't like sci-fi... never have... and again for clarity sake... I don't know how I got sucked into Falling Skies; but I blame my husband!

September 10, 2014

through the lens moment

With the first week of school behind us I have been flooded with memories of my own start to school. The fact that my kids are now old enough that one day they will remember things when they have kids of their own is both very cool and a real eye opener for me. What I say and do as a Mom in these early years will matter years from now. When they were babies I would joke about saving for their therapy fund for all the damage I may do to them over the years... but lately I realize that everything I say to them is important, everything they want to say to me, no matter how trivial it may seem to me, it matters to them and if they are telling me and I am not listening then it could lead them to stop sharing with me. I sometimes wonder in awe at the responsibility we have as parents... it makes me shudder but at the same time it excites me.

Then this morning, after walking Kaleb to school (he was not happy this morning as it was his first day in his uniform - which I should mention does not include batman on the shirt) I realized that I have the same relationship with God. What he says matters, and what I say to him, no matter how trivial; it matters. He cares if I am upset that I can't get my internet to work and he cares if I am frustrated with life, or tired, or scared.

Sometimes when I talk to the boys, particularly if they are tired or distracted, they are looking at me but I can see in their eyes that they aren't hearing a word of what I am saying. The other night I was talking to Kaleb about something really important and he was staring right at me but mid sentence he started asking me about having some juice...

I do this to God too often. I will be looking at him, bugging him to speak to me, but maybe I am tired and not really listening, or maybe I am distracted, or maybe I am too busy asking for something I want and I don't hear what he is saying...

Once again I have been brought up short in my life lessons from the boys and our relationship. I am to thankful that God uses them to teach me about himself, and I am so thankful he's more patient that I am, because I can promise I am more obstinate than my boys.

September 9, 2014

You said.

Be strong you said,
Be courageous.
I am God you said,
I will do the impossible.
Have hope you said,
I will heal him.
Have faith you said,
I can do this.
Be still you said,
listen for my voice.
Be patient you said,
I am not done yet.


September 8, 2014

Mountains on the horizon.

Last year when Josh was being wheeled into the OR a song started repeating in my head, actually it wasn’t a song so much as a line from a song, one that got stuck on repeat in my brain throughout the entire time he was in the OR and in the days that followed. I didn’t know the song but when I did a Google  search later I discovered that it actually was a song, and though I didn’t know it I had the lyrics right and the tune correct.
“This is where the healing begins, this is where the healing starts”...
I don’t know what I expected from that little message, perhaps I secretly harboured a hope that we were leaving all this uncertainty behind us, or that at the very least we would have years of good reports ahead of us. Maybe we still do, but maybe we don’t.
All summer I have lamented the fact that Josh has gone through another growth spurt, he’s jumped 2 shoe sizes and is quickly shooting up... now I see how it’s not just the sadness of seeing my baby getting so big that is a problem...  with height change comes heart change. Josh’s latest ECHO (done on Wednesday) shows that his Tricuspid valve has moved from a mild to a severe leak; and the right side of his heart which had been shrinking in his ECHO in March is now larger again. The Pulmonary valve is still holding and his heart function is okay. So what do we do? He is Asymptomatic at the moment so there is nothing to do about it except wait... and that is tough.
Last week I read a blog post by a fellow heart Mom, she wrote about what it’s like to wait when you are talking about CHD. She wrote that you are waiting for your child to start dying so that they can go in and fix it... and she was bang on. Basically we are waiting for Josh to go into heart failure again so that they can intervene. Do you know what it's like to wait for your child to start dying? Maybe some of you do, maybe some of you also understand that pain, the fear.
I keep going back to that song, what did it mean? It seemed so heaven sent at the time of the surgery and it comforted me through the days and weeks following post op, but what if it was wishful thinking and not God at all? What if, somewhere along the line I had heard that song and it registered in my subconscious mind only to emerge when it seemed fitting? I am not sure.
How many times have I asked God to confirm his words to me, not just these but other things I have thought he said to me? Yet I am met with a form of silence? Does that mean he’s just waiting, or that he just can’t confirm the words? I’m at a loss...
This week I spoke with someone who is going through so pretty insanely hard stuff, he has some tough decisions to make and he expressed himself with the words “I am just so tired”. I feel that this week. Tired.
When I was in Austria I would use my days off to head up to the pass and try my hand at snowboarding, I still remember the very first time I got off the chair lift at the top of that mountain and stood in awe of the view before me. Mountains for as far as the eye could see, peaks and valleys for miles. It was awesome, and a little scary. One wrong turn and down the wrong side of the mountain and you would be hooped.  I look at where Josh is and on one hand I am so thankful, so fully aware of the blessings and miracles we have received in our lives, and on the other hand I see the mountains ahead of us and I am exhausted and a little scared when I see what still lies ahead of us. Not just Josh’s heart, but his brain too.
I was challenged this week on Facebook to do that gratitude challenge. 5 days of thinking on the things you are thankful for and I have to be honest, it’s been a tough week for it. Yet, I am really glad that I did it, glad that I was forced at the end of every day to sit and take stock of the blessings because if not for those quiet moments of introspection I would have struggled to see any good. The news about Josh should have been expected I suppose, valves don’t last and Josh has a history of rejecting them quickly... but I had hoped, really hoped that this time would be different.
With all that being said; and in the vein of the gratitude challenge I will end saying this. We have 6 more months until our next ECHO and barring him becoming symptomatic in that time we can enjoy those 6 months. I’ve often said that in our world, six months between appointments is a huge blessing.  It should also be said again that the pulmonary valve is still holding and as long as it’s holding it is keeping the heart functioning well enough.  I knew loving this much would hurt, that it would be hard, I just never realized how much or how hard, but this pain, this difficulty, proves that I love, and that is not something I should lament but rather celebrate. Josh, Kaleb, Tim...Those three men who have changed me with their love; I don’t need a five day challenge to know how blessed I am to be loved by them.

August 13, 2014

we aren't powerless

 If you have ever known someone who is in the midst of serious suffering then you know what it can feel like to really feel helpless in the face of their pain. It's hard to watch someone you love and care about struggling, to see the unshed tears in their eyes or see the slight slump in the shoulders and know that nothing you do will change their situation.

Now, magnify that by a million... and we sit back and watch our brothers and sisters around the world who are facing unthinkable tragedy, pain and torment, starvation, humiliation, torture... we have all heard the stories coming to use via social media, blogs and news outlets. It's horrific, painful, unimaginable... I am struggling to even come up with the right words because frankly there just aren't any words to describe it. Who beheads children? How desperate do you need to be to throw your own beloved child off a mountain just to spare them any more pain? What is happening to them moves us, but to what? To action? What can we do? I have been mulling this over since the world started to hear more and more stories coming out of Iraq. What can I do? Between being half a world away and totally ignorant of the politics involved in helping these dear people I am at an utter loss. In fact, one would almost believe that it's hopeless... almost.

I am not going to sit here and pretend that I have ever faced such horrible suffering. I just haven't. My life is full of rich blessings and to pretend otherwise would be like slapping these people in the face. However, I will say this. God doesn't know 'hopeless', he didn't create chaos, and he certainly doesn't have boundaries. When we faced some of our tough times it was Him who brought the help, via friends, families and even strangers. Knowing that they were praying helped, it didn't fix anything, it didn't stop the hurting, but it gave hope where all seemed hopeless.

If God can't use me on the front lines in Iraq, if I can't personally go there and rescue every single innocent victim of ISIS then I need to pray for those that can be there, for the Kurds who are the only line of defense and security for these people right now. I need to pray for the men, women and children who are fighting just to live. I also need to seriously start praying for the men and women of ISIS... yes; I said that. I spent an hour praying for them the other day, for they too are God's creation and God loves them, grieves what they are doing but loves them. Loving our enemies is not always easy, and it doesn't mean that we love what they are doing, but I believe they need prayer, and a lot of it.

In this new phase of suffering in Iraq, we can feel the hopelessness and choose to look away from it because 'there's nothing I can do'. I have been very tempted, trust me. However that is a lie, I can plead to the maker of the heavens on behalf of Iraq, for all of her people, and I can hope for them.

Prayer is a powerful tool... but I also urge you to look into some organizations that could use your support. There are humanitarian efforts that are set up and doing their best to get aid to the victims.

Four charities already on the ground and working are:

Mercy Corps
Save the Children
International Rescue Committee
Action against hunger
Preemptive Love Coalition 

I am sure there are more, if you know of any specifically please feel free to list them in the comments section.

There is a movement going forward this Sunday calling for the world to pray for Iraq. I ask you to join and pray with me, not just this Sunday but every day.

lessons on love from a four year old

I can still remember walking down the street when Kaleb was just a few months old. He was in the stroller, facing me, and Tim and I were returning from a meeting, Josh was home with a sitter. It was evening, the lights and sounds of the city were vibrant and full of life. There were neon signs on buildings and car horns blaring, people talking and laughing; not to mention the sirens of emergency vehicles. Yet, Kaleb didn't take his eyes off me. I remember thinking it was the most amazing thing in the world that this little baby, born only months before would think I was more intriguing than all the lights and sounds that filled the air that night.

Little has changed when it comes to this little man, for the time being I am still the love of his life and I have to admit that I revel in it, and will, for as long as it lasts before some beautiful woman comes to whisk his heart away. Yet, even then, I know that his love will remain.

He has such a good heart, a genuine love for us, a pure love, a giving love and when he looks up at you and smiles, you feel the warmth, almost as if it was a ray of sunshine that is warming you from the inside out. A number of things have happened this summer that brought me to this post; little smiles, hugs, kisses, flowers (weeds) given in outstretched hands and a multitude of other expressions of his love for us, for all of us, not just me, but his Daddy and brother too.

This week, in the wake of a few quiet days without the boys (they remain at the cottage while I deal with a few things here at home). You can call it an epiphany if you like. I saw something that was talking about a childlike faith, and it made me think about Kaleb. I wondered, when was the last time I looked at God in a childlike way? When was the last time that I was so intrigued by Him that I didn't get distracted by the lights and sounds of everyday life on the busy streets? When was the last time I gave him my expressions of love, even if they were only weeds? I am deeply saddened because I can't honestly remember. I get so caught in the daily grind of life that I forget my purpose, I forget that I was created for love and worship.

Thinking back over the summer, seeing all the little acts and tokens of love that Kaleb pours out into my life, knowing how life giving that love is, knowing how beautiful it is, how much it feeds my soul, and I wonder that I haven't done that for my own heavenly Father in too long to remember, well, it breaks my heart.

Today, I will lift my eyes to Him, and I will watch him and whisper "I love you" and sing to him, and talk with him, just the way Kaleb does with me because the reality is, I do love Him, and I can't call him friend, ask him for help, beg him for mercy or healing, when I can't even take the time to show him how much I love Him, how much I appreciate Him, how grateful I am; when I am too busy to worship Him in the daily cycle of life.

My kids are daily lessons of God's love for me, this week, they are a lesson in my love for God and I am left humbled.

August 5, 2014

sabath summer

In Sanibel enjoying a post dinner walk on the beach
This past weekend we marked a significant day in our little family. We hit the one year anniversary for Josh's last surgery. That may seem like less than a big deal, but we were advised that if we chose the replacement surgery over the paleative option that we would back in the OR in a year. Happily I announce that we haven't seen that OR, and God willing we won't for a while.

Last summer was not our most stellar summer in the history of us, in fact, I think I can safely say it ranked up there with one of our worst summers in history. It sucked on so many levels! We trudged through it and we made it, with God's help and with the help of family and friends who gathered around us and offered support and love.

I am very happy to say that this summer has easily been the best summer in our small family history, quite possibly in my life. We have been having a blast! (Thank you for your patience with my utter neglect of this blog for a while).

As soon as we busted the boys out of school a few days early we packed our car (to overflowing) and began a four day road trip to Florida. We made stops each day that added a holiday feel to a long boring drive. We road trains, swam in pools, played soccer on the side of the road, hit a blue grass festival in a small west Virginia town, wandered through an old castle and a pirate museum and collected enough McDonald's toys to drive us completely our of our head. We also found the strength to listen to the LEGO movie a bazillion times and can proudly say we have pretty much mastered the 'Everything is awesome' song. After driving for four straight days we found ourselves (by design of course) in Orlando, Florida where we spend a very fun 8 days playing by the pool, riding roller coasters and beating the heat on river rapids and logs that drop you off mountains. We walked hundreds of miles (only a mild exaggeration) and even got transported through time to see the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. After leaving Orlando we headed straight to Sanibel Island where we got the chance to catch up with some really awesome friends that we haven't seen since just after Josh's surgery last year. We lazed on the beach, fished (well... Tim and Kaper fished... Josh and I avoided that sort of thing in favour of the beach). We watched as both a shark and several dolphins swam within feet of us, found star fish and sand dollars and a multitude of shells and we even managed to see a very large sting ray. Life is sweet when you have nothing to do, nothing to worry about, except planning the fun things you will do that day. Leaving Sanibel and our friends was tough, but we made it sweeter by doing loads of fun stuff on the four day drive home. We went bowling and swimming, saw Colonial Williamsburg and enjoyed the adventure of being evacuated from our hotel due to fire just as we were headed to the pool, so that we stood on the street in our swimsuits and little else. We went to a chocolate factory and hit the outlets, and then to cap it off we spent the night at Great Wolf Lodge enjoying on last kick at the can in the water-park.

Coming home was sweet, we had missed our home and Josh was missing his CN Tower (yes, it's his you know... just ask him). Kaleb was sorely missing his dinosaur (the one with one horn) and me? I missed my bed that is NOT in the same room with those two boys! ;)

The Sunday after coming home Josh and I had the privilege of being ambassadors for Sick Kids when Revitup for Sick Kids arrived at the University street entrance and revved their engines for the kids in hospital to hear and told us about the already 50,000 dollars they had raised for the Heart Centre at Sick Kids. Josh was a star that weekend and made most of the local news outlets that night and the newspapers the next day.

The following day we set off for a week of day camp at Little Trinity where the boys went on a wilderness adventure with Moses (a.k.a. Tim). They came home talking about the Bible and singing songs to Jesus. They also came home dirty and tired, and dirty... very dirty... really very dirty ;) BUT happy!

As soon as day camp ended we once again packed the car up and we made the move to the cottage (where we are now) for a month of country and beach life.

After the summer we had last year, this summer feels like a polar oppposite and I can see God's hand all over our time together as a family. We are renewed (if not rested). Josh is running and playing like kids his age should be, he's happy, really happy. Kaper is a monkey and a sweet heart and growing up so fast. He's discovering new likes and hobbies and is quickly developing into his own little person who is both independant and yet still my mama's boy at heart. It's a good age with these two, a really good age.

I haven't written much (at all really) this summer but as you can see... I am fully enjoying the moments with these boys while I can, and quite honestly we are having the time of our lives! God has been so good, so faithful, so incredibly giving. We are blessed beyond measure and we know it. I no longer take times like these for granted, we are in the resting place that God has provided and we are basking in the glow, we know we are blessed and we are sitting back and enjoying the time of peace while we have it.

While I have been busy with summer life, I have also been busy finishing a project that I have spent the last few years working on when I can. I have written a book and am moving into the editing stages of the process and then soon, the publishing phase. So, while I have been neglecting the blog a little I have still been writing and I will keep you posted on the release date. I haven't forgotten you, my faithful readers, and I have many more stories and things to share in the coming weeks. I do appreciate your patience and understanding!

Once upon a time I was walking a very dark road, I couldn't see the path below me or my hand in front of me but it caused me to look up, and what I saw were millions of stars lighting the sky. They were beautiful. Last summer was dark, I couldn't see where I was walking, I couldn't see my hand in front of me, but this summer I am seeing the stars and they too, are beautiful.

Many blessings to each of you.

June 7, 2014

Transmitted, Filtered, Reflections

I saw a post on Facebook today that had a picture of two men in Central Park underneath was this quote:

"We're eye doctors."
"What's something about the eye that most people don't realize?"
"The eye doesn't see. The brain sees. The eye just transmits. So what we see isn't only determined by what comes through the eyes. What we see is affected by our memories, our feelings, and by what we've seen before."

I remember when I was younger, I would watch someone I really cared about act in a way that said she thought she was not beautiful. I remember watching her intently and thinking... 'but you can't see what I see'. She would only see what the mirror showed her, she would never see herself in the 'first person', it would always, only be a reflection of the person she is. 

I remember going with my Dad to a special event that he was running (My Dad is a PR specialist and was the communications director of Canon Canada) the event was to show off some of Canon's new products, one of those new products was a camera that could take a picture of your eye ball... no kidding. You would line your eye up with the view finder and it snapped a shot, but you didn't get a photo back of your beautiful blues/browns/greens or hazels, you got a picture that showed the actual eye ball. Obviously this was a special camera, used for medical purposes but they allowed us to take a picture, and what I got back was a Polaroid style shot of my eyeball.
It was pretty cool really. 

I also remember thinking, years later when I knew this particular woman who so struggled with her self image, about that picture of my eye. It caused me to think about what I see, and also what I don't see. I look at the sky and it's blue, but someone who is colour blind may say it's green. So then, what colour is the sky? What about a reflection? If I stand at side by side with you and look into a stream I will not see the exact same thing as you, even though we are looking at the same thing. We may be different heights, and we are not staring at the exact same spot, and the ripples from the breeze may differ slightly, and because we are side by side and not on top of each other we will have different angles of light, different shadows, different reflections staring back at us. 

So that leads me back to what we see in the mirror, that reflection that we stand in front of on a daily basis while getting ready to go out and face the world, the one we often have a problem with. I can look at her, (my reflection) and see a lot of things, but they are only ever a reflection, or as these eye doctors have said, a 'transmitted, 'filtered' view of ourselves. We see the lies that we have whispered to ourselves for years, we see  the self doubt, we see the things that people have told us about ourselves, we see the 'filters', we see the reflection, we do not see ourselves in the first person.