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.

June 6, 2014

a line of courage

Sometimes, when Josh and I are alone, I get a glimpse into his mind, get a chance to hear what he is thinking about... it's rare but when it happens I am often surprised by the depth of thinking he displays.

This morning Kaleb slept in and left a good hour for Josh and I to share breakfast together. We were chatting about all sorts of things and as often happens he started to ask about his heart, and his scar. I don't know how the conversation started this morning but we talked about his birth story, and that led to him wanting to see pictures. He saw one of the ones I had of him in hospital and as he looked at it I asked him how he felt when he saw the picture. His response was 'I feel broken when I see that picture'... it moved us into discussing those feelings and how he isn't 'broken'. Then he asked me where his scar was and I explained that he hadn't been born with it, that he got it when he was 6 months old. This led to the next batch of questions about old he was for each of surgeries. I said he was 6 months, 2, 3 and then 5 years old. Then he asked 'when will my surgery be when I am six? and I said he wasn't going to have one when he was 6, so he asked 'when I am seven?'. At this point I know I can't say he won't need one when he is seven, I can't make promises like that. So we talked about how having a special heart means that we are given a special gift, a gift that allows us to fully  enjoy each day and be grateful that today he doesn't need a surgery. He thought about this long and hard and then while rubbing his scar he said 'I don't want to lose my pig valves' and I explained that someday he would need new ones but they would still be pig valves. At this point he looked up at me and said 'I don't want them to use a knife to give me new pig valves, it scares me and hurts me'.

Now this may seem like a very normal thing to hear... but for Josh it is the first time he has ever articulated his fear around the surgery itself, the first time he has ever said anything about being afraid of it, or remembering that it hurt. In fact, most times when he speaks about his surgeries it's to talk about the outcome (the fact that he has pig valves or that he has no leaks), not the ordeal. I have heard of his fear of 'the dragon' which has plagued him since his second surgery, I have heard of his fear of the dark that started after one of the surgeries, in fact, he has always been clear about being 'afraid' but he has never once articulated a fear of the surgery itself. Not once has he put the two together in words, possibly even in his mind. So, while this may seem very 'normal' for a child who has been through what Josh has been through, as his Mum I see it as a huge leap forward in his understanding of  his situation, for him and for me. How many nights have our halls rung out with screams? Too many to count. I've always known the two are connected but hearing him say that he sees that too, seems like a step forward, one step closer to leaving the dragon behind.

What do you say? I couldn't think of anything to say to him; so I said 'I would be scared and hurt too; I get it, its scary to think about that'. Then I asked to see his scar and he pulled up his shirt. I touched it and I said 'Do you know what I see?' and he looked at me waiting...

"I see a line of courage, a line that says "I am brave", I see a line across your chest that says 'I am alive', I survived". He looked at the scar again and rubbed it up and down and I continued. "If you are never scared, then you can never learn to be brave, not many people get to learn so quickly how to be so brave." He smiled at this and then touched his scar again and said 'I think I will keep it"

There is nothing better to me than when Josh shares a bit of himself with me, allows me into his mind and shares with me his fears and dreams and hopes and worries. Knowing him, all of him, fills me with joy and being able to talk to him and ease his anxiety a little helps the mothers heart in me that always feels so helpless. We talked at length about learning to not borrow trouble from tomorrow, that we have to enjoy today for what it is. I said to him that if he had to have a surgery when he was seven, or eight or nine, then we would deal with it and worry about it then; but that TODAY he doesn't need one, and we can celebrate that. I don't know if that part got through to him but I know he left the conversation looking more at peace than during the talk.

Later he came back to the kitchen, this little boy who has a language impairment, and told me all about his head, thorax and abdomen... He amazes me on so many levels! What a joy and blessing he is.

June 3, 2014

a dangerous walk to school...

I was walking this morning taking Kaleb to school, he was doing his 'slow' walk which is very similar to his normal walk but even slower (if that is possible?!). When I walk to pick him up it is a fairly quick 15 minutes, but when I have him with me it is easily half an hour. I have finally stopped caring about time, if I am late then I am late and, that's life. We leave at the same time every morning and some days we make it and other days we are late... today was a 'we are going to be late' sort of a day. I was getting annoyed to be honest. I have things I want to do, the longer he dawdles the longer it takes me to get on with my day. You know?

We got into a section of the street that he loves, mostly because it's a back alley and he has no need to worry about cars, he can just play. As we were walking he had to stop at each puddle and toss some pebbles in it to watch the ripples. As we passed each flower he had to stop and inspect it (he was looking for bugs that might be dangerous), every fire hydrant I got treated to the story of what fire took place that they used that particular hydrant (yes, he's becoming a master story teller). The trees, now shedding their blooms make for another 5 minutes stop and conversation (perhaps an alien came down in the night and broke all the flowers off to eat them all up?!). Slowly... very slowly we are getting further down the street, step by step we are getting a little bit closer to the school.

I kept calling him 'Kaleb! Let's go!' until we hit the next alley we pass through... this alley was littered with puddles, and I just sort of gave in to the fact that we would be late. So, I slowed down and stopped bugging him. As we passed each puddle, his little hands tossing in the pebbles, his feet dancing around the puddles to avoid waking the scary sea monsters, as we climbed along the side of the alley (a curved curb) because it was a bridge to save us from the evil sea monsters that live in the puddles I began to smile. Somewhere between alley number 1 and alley number 2 it dawned on me that I am at risk of turning it 'Calvin's' mother! You know her right? Calvin and Hobbes... and the Mom who spoils all their fun!

Every year I used to get a Calvin and Hobbes book from 'Santa'... it was always the very first gift 'he' brought me and it was left beside my bed in generous attempt to allow my parents a bit of a lie in. I would read the stories and dream that one day I might have a child as awesome as Calvin! He was so cool, his imagination knew no bounds and though often twisted... his humor was unmatched.

Walking to school today, facing hungry aliens and sea monsters and at one point even a bunch of garbage that had been torn through by an evil purple minion I realized that my prayer had been answered. He even comes with a Tiger. How can I be annoyed by that?

End results of this mornings walk... we were late, but we were spared the wrath of the sea monsters and paid homage to them by giving them pebbles, and thankfully the evil purple minion was gone before we walked past, and didn't return on my walk back home. I wonder what will happen on the way home?

June 1, 2014

All for a smile

There is nothing more special than seeing your kids being treated like they are special. It's that simple. Want to win my heart? Win my kids hearts. Want to make me happy? Treat my kids well. Want to say thank you? Say it by being nice to them.

In my strive to make people aware of the problems that kids with Congenital Heart Defects face (along with their families) I have come into contact with many people. I have met other families, I worked with many charities, and I have had the pleasure of meeting some pretty great people. Toronto has a lot of great people, but sometimes you get the chance to meet some that are just really special, who just want to do something nice, to make you smile. I have met many along the way. Some, friends who have journeyed with us from the very beginning, and still others who are total strangers and yet they care.

One of the things that I did this year was to arrange a day at Kaleb's school, raising awareness and some funds, during this event we had the very fun opportunity to meet with David Clarkson of the Toronto Maple Leafs (and Carlton too!!). I wont go into a of detail because I have already blogged about this day. I remind you of this because later, in March, I was asked to do an interview with the Toronto Maple Leafs discussing David Clarkson and his work with families through in southern Ontario. I happily agreed and the video was made.

Now, at the time the team that came to the house for the interview told me to let them know if we would ever like to come and see the ACC for a tour, and I decided to take them up on it. I wrote and asked if it would be possible. I got an email back the following day. A tour would be difficult, but they would like to give us playoff tickets to the Marlie's game five! Now, I don't know about you... but a tour of an empty building can't even come close to comparing to going to a playoff game! I was stoked! This was awesome!

As it turns out, they also invited the boys to join them for pre-game warm up... on the bench!! It was like some kind of dream for them (though our shy little Kaper didn't seem too thrilled until after the fact).
Josh giving pre-game high fives to the team
We had amazing seats, and we quickly settled in to watch the game. Kaleb in my lap and Josh between Tim and I. My parents rounded out our group on my left. Through out the first period the boys; Kaleb in particular, was watching Duke (The dog mascot for the Marlie's) intently. Every time he spotted him he would shout, 'Mama, there's Duke!!' and if he got close to our section he would grab Josh and together they would yell 'DUKE' as loud as they could in hopes they might capture the dogs attention. So, half way through the second period you can imagine their immense pleasure when Duke came straight to their seats and said he was looking for Joshua and Kaleb! The boys practically (well... no practically about it....) climbed over my mom and I to get close to the giant dog. Duke, who then gave them two large gift bags full of Marlie's toys and T-shirts posed for a photo with them, gave them high fives and a quick snuggle. It was a moment that they wont soon forget I can promise you. I think my two guys were the envy of every kid in our section!

It is not often that you have a day so packed full of 'specialness' of memorable moments that will reach far into their futures and yours, days when you just know 'they will never forget this'. Yesterday was one of those days! The Toronto Maple Leafs went above and beyond yesterday to make sure we knew they appreciated us, not just Josh and all the reasons why his story helped make their story better, not just me for being willing to share that story, but the whole family, and Kaleb, who one of the members of the Maple Leaf team specifically made sure to include when she thanked us.

Josh's story is not just about Josh, it's not about me. It's about our family, together we have traveled this road. Kaleb too, has had a long and difficult few years watching his family suffer all while not fully understanding what was happening; and yesterday he felt just as special as Josh in every way that matters. He even made it to the interview we did for the "the Leaf".

These two boys, their Dad, my parents, Tim's parents, and all of our siblings and friends have stuck together on this journey and together we have grown and changed as a result. We know that not everyone gets many of the special things that we get as a result of the hand we were dealt, but we also know how blessed we are; and we want you to know we appreciate it, and are truly grateful for each opportunity. We do not take for granted the gifts that come our way.

We, as a family wanted to say thank you to the Toronto Maple Leafs for making yesterday so awesome. We want to thank all the organizations like Cardiac Kids and Starlight who do everything they can to help families like ours feel the joy and pleasure of being a kid, no matter what the day to day looks like. We want to thank all the people in between, all the David Clarkson's and Ally Williams' and Meghan Hurley's in the world who strive to make the kids smile in spite of their circumstances.

Thank you.


May 25, 2014

The finish line

This weekend has truly been a walk through the past 6 years. As I faced the 10KM walk ahead of me on Sunday morning I started on Friday mental preparing. After two years of deciding and waiting to reach my weight loss goal, I finally went on Friday and got a tattoo that reflects  my journey this past six years. A well thought out design that bares witness to the life changes we have made as a family and how it has led me ever closer to understanding the cross. As I sat in the chair, feeling the pinch of the needle I allowed my self to go back to the beggining of this journey we began many years ago with Joshua. I thought about his birth, his subsequent health issues, surgeries, caheterizations and all the stuff in between. To say it's been a journey is false in some ways... it's been more of a roller coaster ride... that looked very much like a ECG reading. Ups and Downs... I thought of those ups and down as the artist worked on me, in many ways the act itself was cathartic.

 This morning, as I prepared for the walk I prepped my ipod full of music that has been the soundtrack to my life through out this chapter in our life. I started the walk with the doom and gloom of first learning his diagnonsis and I ended on the triumphant 'this is where the healing begins' that lead me through the last surgery. walking, up and down the trails (twice, since it was only designed to be a five KM walk) was so reminiscent of the daily walk we make each day. Some hills are harder, some of the flat ground were easy, and the final push through the last quarter (which I decided to run) was like last summer, painful on my knees, hard, and yet, as I saw the finish line coming closer into my line of vision I was overwhelmed, to the point of true emotion. Not because I had almost finished the walk, but because it symbolizes so much more to me.

Ever day of our lives, whether we realize it or not, is a race to a finish line. Ready or not, when we get there we are done. When we pass through that gate that signals we are done, we move into a period of eternal rest, with no pain, no suffering, no tears, no sadness... no broken hearts.

It struck me, walking and running through the 10 K, thankfully on my own, that as his Mum it is just so fitting that I am the one to do this. I am walking, not do any great destination, but with each step I get closer to achieving a goal. I am his mother, I walk alone in many areas of this life we have. Tim is beside me to listen, he helps make the tough calls, but the daily grind of appointments and anxiety and tears lay on my shoulders (a burden I chose, one I would not give up for anything. I find it an honor to hold Josh's hand through the yucky parts of CHD. When he gets tired, I can life him up and carry him, and when I get tired, God lifts me up and carries him.

Too many times I have heard from heart families only the diagnosis of their kid... I want Josh's legacy, our families legacy, to be not what CHD did to us, but we did for CHD. When I die I want to go knowing that I did everything I could to further the cause, I want to die knowing that Josh will be left with a medical system that is fully ready to take on the task of keeping him healthy. I want to know that though my role is small in many ways, that I have taught people something, shared our story in a positive and helpful way. Highlighting the great and amazing things that have come from Josh having this amazing and incredible heart. He may not be perfect, but he is mine. He may have a diagnosis... but he's more than that.

More than anything. I want to share that God has brought us from the pain and fear and anxiety, into the shadow of the cross... that we are always heading towards. No pain, no suffering, no fear, can not be met with love and answers from a God who loves us enough to provide the cross.

When we sit in the gutter and mud, we have a decision to make. We can sit there, and stare at the dirt on our knees and hands and face, we can think about horror of  the spot we are in... or we can choose to look up, we can choose to reach up and grab the hand outstretched, offering help to stand, the help to move on. I choose to look up. Walking today... even the running, was in one direction... The finish line. My finish line is (hopefully) a long way off, and I have a lot of up hill, hard won, victories ahead of me, but when I get tired I know that there is another side of the hill... and it goes downhill with easier terrain.

We were offered no promises of a joyous journey. Life sucks sometimes and it's HARD. We were however, promised that one day all the hard bits would end, the sorrow would leave, the tears would only be tears of joy. Pain would end, bodies restored, FOREVER. I hold to that promise, and wait with expectation. BUT, in the mean time, I will walk and run the race set before me, and do the hard stuff that motherhood demands.

It was beautiful day. Hard, and beautiful!