Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

January 30, 2011

Scars & Smiles

Tomorrow Joshua turns three years old... it amazes me to think about that. Josh is three. He has been alive for three years, this kid that doctors told me wouldn't live an hour is thriving, happy and three! What a gift! Every birthday he has I sit and look back, this year in particular I find myself smiling when I think of him, and when I think of those doctors three years ago. How I wish they could see Josh now! I remember one doctor, the one who diagnosed Josh while he was still in my womb, he said to me in a quiet voice 'there will be no miracles here'... Oh how wrong he was! There have been miracles heaped on miracles!

I watched him today, playing with his brother, chasing the girls in church, beaming while his birthday guests sang happy birthday to him. He is so happy, he is so incredibly happy. His world is simple, he eats, watches TV, plays with his train, plays with his Mummy and Daddy and Kaleb, sleeps and enjoys fun days out. He has no idea of the triumphs, of the victories that he has already accumulated! His trophies are the scars and the smiles, his heart is bigger, stronger and braver than mine!

He is three, next year he'll be four, then five, six, seven and so on... because there are miracles here!

January 29, 2011

Blind

I mentioned in an earlier post that Tim and I have been reading the Great Divorce... we have made it to chapter 5, (yes, we missed a couple of nights due to commitments). The bus has stopped and we are now on the outskirts of heaven, spirits have come, beautiful spirits, and Joe (again, correct me here if you know his name) finds that the people, including him that came from hell (although I am not sure that some of them realize where they have been) are all ghostly people, a former shadow of who they were, who they were meant to be. These spirits, they are full, strong, beautiful, as if they have finally become who they were created to be.

Joe it seems is no longer having conversations with the ghosts, but now seems to be merely be an interloper on other people's conversations. It's an interesting way of writing, and of reading... To be a voyeur of sorts. Anyway, he just listened to a conversation with a 'ghost' who is religious and a 'spirit' who knew him years before. The spirit was trying to get him to come to the mountains (where I presume heaven is to be) but the 'religious' ghost is too concerned on whether or not he will be useful there, when in hell he could be useful, they are having great debates on whether or not Jesus would have changed his views, been less the socialist etc. if he had lived longer, matured, and not been crucified when he was. This ghost, felt he should finish his paper, that he was needed. The spirit tried in vain to get him to come with him, to give up being needed but to have all your needs fulfilled, to give up the grey towns of hell to live in the full glory of heaven, to see the face of God and have all the answers he ever had questions for... but the ghost, sadly, decides that there is no way you can have all the answers, that there will always be searching, always be new questions and inquiry. He gets back on the bus.

I found this particular ghost an interesting ghost... he spent his life on earth being highly religious. He was in fact a Bishop on earth, he searched for the theological answers, hunting for the truth and here he is fresh off the bus from hell, not even aware that that is where he was... this poor man, who counts himself one of knowledge and insight is totally unaware, blind. It makes me question my 'knowledge' or my 'insights',  it makes me realize that I need to look outside of myself for the truth, only then will I find some answers.

January 26, 2011

Patience

Potty time has come to our house... yes, you heard me correctly. I am trying (so far in vain) to get Josh out of diapers and onto the potty. So far I have had no success, one pee in the potty but now that 24 hours have passed since that momentous event I fear that it was more coincidence than anything else. I had promised myself I would try this for one week... he turns 3 on Monday and I thought it would be fun thing to do to mark his birthday... now I wonder what crazy person tries to potty train and plan a three year olds birthday party in the same week? This is one of those times when I wish I had asked another Moms advice before hand.

The biggest problem of course, is training myself... every 30 - 40 minutes, take Josh for potty time. This is not easy, I get caught up in stuff. So, I have been setting the oven timer. Now though, the bell goes off and Josh runs... grinning... but running to the other side of the room. I am left wondering if this is quickly becoming more game than actual 'big boy achievement'? His Dad took a long time to train apparently, so is Josh following in Daddy's steps? IF this is true, then shouldn't Daddy be the one who needs to train him, suffer the pains of repeating the words 'pee, poop and potty' twenty thousand times in a day? It is his fault after all right?

I was telling a friend today that when I imagined up the idea to train him I had a certain image in mind... some call it a dream, I prefer to call it optimism... This is how that was to go...

"Josh, today you are going to learn to pee and poo in the potty, and you are going to be a big boy:"
"Okay"
- I pull out the potty, Josh pulls down his pants and sits on the potty, goes pee and poo and then flushes the toilet. He gets a sticker, realizes that all he needs to do is pee in the potty to get rewards and he just does it.. no more diapers...
- Josh goes to the change table, gets the diapers and throws them out singing 'Im a big kid now' and doing the potty dance around the house.

Oh how wrong I was... This is harder than I thought!! Rarely if ever do I admit to being wrong, it is of course something that rarely happens though ,so admitting it, by natural default would be rare, but still this one has me stymied. How to train a stubborn child?

The advice so far has been vast, albeit consistent... patience, (for who I want to know?) and rewards or shall we call a spade a spade and say 'bribes'. Other advice is from one end of the scale to the other...Read a book, don't read a book, watch TV, Don't watch TV, give him a toy,don't give him a toy, start on the big potty, start on a little potty, give him a treat, don't give him a treat, ... AHHHH! Won't someone just do this for me? One lady on YouTube even told me that most parents wait too long and that they should be trained by age 2 or risk serious training difficulties?! Everyone else says of course that I should wait till he's ready... but what's ready? I look at the charts and he's 'ready' but guess what... he's still NOT peeing in a potty?!

This ultimately leads me back to the dreaded word... a word I hate with real passion... PATIENCE... oh how I dread it when people tell me to be patient... I want it and I want it now has always been my philosophy and I have tried to live my life by it... (not that I have EVER been successful at that... ). It seems that I am constantly needing a lesson in the art of patience, no matter how small or how big the lesson... no matter how often I try to pretend I have learned it.. nothing works and here we are again. Yet one more lesson in patience!

January 25, 2011

manna from heaven..?

There is only ONE alarm clock I will tolerate with any sort of friendly greeting in the mornings, and that is the sound of the coffee maker beeping it's arrival at the finish line. The smell, sweet bliss to my nostrils that are so thirsty for the heavenly drug that that beeping offers them. My eyes open slowly and I feel the last remnants of the dreamy sleep world fall away as my mouth starts to water for just one sip, on large sip of the brewed juice waiting for me on the level below. My feet, seemingly move on their own from under the blankets to the floor, even the shock of leaving the warmth and safety of my bed doesn't stop my feet from pulling me forward, pushing me to get socks on, to stumble, still bleary eyed to the door, down the steps... all for that first sip, for the love of that first sip of morning coffee. No other coffee during the day has the same satisfaction, nothing will ever match that first sip. I go to the fridge, by passing children racing trucks over my toes in an attempt at gaining attention, I get out the milk, blindly patting Kaleb on the head in an effort to ease his pain at being not fully in my attention. I move to the machine that encases my morning help, my morning coping mechanism, my wonder drug that keeps me sane until such time as I can wake on my own. I pour a cup, a large cup, put some milk in to cool it down, and then, without moving to a new location, with sitting down or looking for a more comfortable spot I pull that mug up to my lips... my eyes close in anticipation, my taste buds sense that they are about to be fulfilled with intoxication and they begin to water... I let the mug hover at my lips while my nose is wonderfully assaulted by the smells and wonders that this magic drink has to offer, not wanting and of my senses to miss out on this bliss. The room seems silent, still, although I can, in the distant recesses of my mind feel that there is chaos around me, children yelling, dogs barking, husband talking, toys being thrown or fought over... but where I am, in this moment, none of it penetrates, this is my moment and I wallow in it. I tip the mug, just a little further, the dark liquid hitting my lips, I lick them, catching the precious first drop on my tongue and savoring it. I tip the mug further, and the dark liquid, the brewed drug of wonder, slides down my throat, I allow the heat to forge my day, readying me for what lays ahead, I allow it flow through my veins, allowing my senses to fully come alive... and as I do, slowly, the fog clears, no longer a distant chaos the noise around me begins to consume me. I turn and look at my family, at the kids who are so happy to see me, the husband who makes it possible for me to have this moment every morning, the dog who will happily lap up the last of the cup later in the morning, at the dishes that say they have been fed, and I realize that what was chaos moments before is now just home, simple and beautiful and I wouldn't want anything else, the noise, the fighting, the toys, the high pitch giggles and rough and tumble play, it is my family and I love them.

January 24, 2011

5 stars at chapter 2!!

My husband and I have started to read the book 'The Great Divorce' together each night. One chapter a night, and then we talk about the chapter. We find it helpful to have something other than our kids and house and jobs to talk about. I am loving it!

For those of you who have not yet read the book, the basic premise is that a man finds himself in hell, and in hell he finds himself at a bus stop going to somewhere he doesn't know. He decides to wait in a HUGE line (this is of course chapter one) to get on the bus and see where it is going. As he stands in line feeling like it might be a hopeless pursuit to get on the bus, he notices that people are slowing getting out of the line, moving his place in line closer and closer, until there is no reason why he should be able to catch the next bus. The bus we learn, is destined to arrive in heaven. The ride, takes him to the place between heaven and hell, and the people he meets on the bus all tell a story... (I have yet to get past chapter 2 so this is all I can give you.)

Last night, in chapter 2, the man on the bus (I don't think he has a name but lets' call him Joe for the sake of needing a name - if he actually has a name that I am missing and you know it... please leave a comment below for me and I will correct this). So, Joe is sitting beside this man who has had a lot of bad luck in life, he has had untold misfortune, and thus no one ever saw his true genius, the women never saw how charming he was, the blokes never saw what fun he could be, he missed out on opportunity after opportunity. He is and has been the perpetual victim. I found this character particularly interesting because I know this person, I know many of them, I am one of them many times. Always a reason that I didn't cut it, always some person who was to blame for my failures. I call this person, and myself at times, the perpetual victim. Always the butt of the joke, always the victim of someone insults, always the victim of a cruel boss, cruel co-worker, cruel spouse, cruel friends, cruel dog or cat, cruel life... just always a victim. The hard part about this mood, or these people, is that you can't say anything to them... because then it's you who is victimizing them. You who are the cruel friend, or if it's you in this mood then it's just one more mean thing that a person has said to you... one more abuse you have endured on this road of your journey....

When you are already seeing things in chapter 2 that make a difference in your life, or help you to see others and yourself differently, then I believe the book is going to be fantastic! I can't wait to meet the other people on the bus, and to learn more about me and help me to be more understanding of those around me. Good read so far and as I mentioned it's only chapter 2!!

January 23, 2011

A lesson in fun... (seems a better title)

I worked in the nursery this morning, or I should say I played in the nursery today. I had been dreading it a little to be honest, I am with kids all day every day, I listen to screams and watch falling tears for a total of 11 hours a day 7 days a week. Oh yes, they giggle too, and they sometimes sit quietly but the reality is, it's not those moments that stand out when you are tired and facing a room full of under two's. So after waking at 5:30 AM I was grumpy about my time in the nursery.

I was the first person there, I hadn't even been there for 10 minutes before my two guys had totally destroyed it... this was just the beginning. Josh bumped his head, started to cry, roll around on the floor, looking at me every so often to see if more drama was necessary, then added a few more yells. I saw some girls come in, and told him that 'girls were here'... tears stopped immediately! Within moments he was in the hall chasing said girls and the tears had vanished.

As the other kids started to trickle in I was surprised to find that the little people weren't crying, or whining or worse, screaming for Mommy or Daddy in an inconsolable rage. In fact, they came in quietly and gravitated to their favorite toys. Josh moved along to big kid class, Kaleb to the tool shop where he hammered everything within sight, and I was able to play with some kids other than my own. It was, for lack of a better word, refreshing.

I sat with one two year old, and attempted to teach him how to use a 'connector' toy (I don't know what it was called), I thought it would be fun to make him a necklace, although given that he was a boy I did attempt to assuage his masculine pride by saying it was a 'Tie', he apparently thought it would be more fun to whip it across the room, barely missing a little girl who may actually have appreciated my efforts. Another little boy showed me how to do the 'monster mash' and the 'hot potato' and still another one informed me that his Mommy was NOT in church but rather 'out for coffee'.

I only smelled one smelly diaper, this astounded me! The only problem was that the smell was coming from my own kid... so unfortunate that I could get some other poor woman out of church to come change her own kids poop... nope, had to mine! Once the butt was clean we moved into snack time, where Kaleb proceeded to teach the older kids 'props' and eat their snacks when they weren't looking.

Then, just before the end of the service my oldest, my sweet Josh was delivered to me. Apparently he was eating so much, drinking so much, that they thought he should go back to his Mom... in other words, the pastors kid got kicked out of Sunday school! :) Ahhh... I love being a Mom! I love watching other kids grow and learn and start to develop their own very cute personalities.

... and I love learning more about my friends via their kids ;)

January 22, 2011

Eye of the beholder?

I have been doing a lot of thinking about art this week, what it is, what it should or should not look like and how to make sure you have a product that people will like.

I have heard from some amazing artists and almost all have had rejection of their product at some point or other, be it music, paintings, or photography. Art is subjective, it's part of the mystery and wonder of it.

As an artist I have a style, I work within those parameters and I hope that people like what they see. Realistically I know that there are some who will not like my style, who will see it as less than, or lacking... I know this in my head but when I hear, it hurts my heart.

My art is my way of communicating beauty, my way of showing you what I see, how I see, how I feel when I see something or just generally how I feel. Like a softly sung song with powerful words; my photos are meant to inspire, they are meant to make you feel something too.

So, why is it that my heart and my head don't relate? Why is it that I know in my head that not everyone will see the same things and find inspiration, just as I hear some music and not enjoy it, or see a painting and wonder what it is? Yet, inevitably it causes pain.

I have come to a simple conclusion this week... my husband is always quoting Tim Keller to me, saying 'it's your failure to believe in the gospel'... it's become a joke between us now. We throw it back and forth and in many ways the quote has lost it's meaning. However, I have looked back at that quote this week and I am drawn again to it's truths.

God gave me an eye and a desire to use that eye to take pictures to tell a story or an emotion, it is not for you, it is not for the art world or the customer. It is simply given by God for me to use for His glory. I am created for his glory and if I can simply live into that knowledge, live into the powerful truth of the gospel then nothing anyone says, good or bad, will matter at all. My heart and eyes will be seeing glory, not fame.

January 21, 2011

Daddy cuddles














There is nothing better in the world than seeing a Daddy cuddling his baby. It is refreshing and warm and sweet and the babies, no matter how big they are, always seem so much smaller and so much safer. Kaleb's favorite thing to do is cuddle, but there is something so special about catching moments where Tim is holding him, loving him. It almost feels like an intrusion on the moment to take a shot of it but at the same time I want Kaleb to be a part of this moment forever, and when he is older and looks back on this photo he will know his Daddy's love in a new way, a special way.
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January 20, 2011

Personality disorder or Communication breakdown?

I am a fickle person... I just can't make up my mind! One day things are good, I feel blessed and put together, the next I feel frustrated, tired and discouraged. You that read my Blog probably wonder if I have some kind of a personality disorder... I wonder that myself at times and have yet to actually come to a conclusion on it.

I get frustrated with Josh because no matter how many times I tell him 'don't cry and whine, simply ask for help and I will help you... but I don't know what the whining means' and still, he sits there day after day refusing to ask for help, refusing to use words that are effective to communicate his needs (even though I know he knows them and have heard them on occasion leave his lips) and instead, he chooses to cry and whine and I guess in his little mind he is hoping that I will understand?

Then the other day, out of no where he says 'more' and even uses the hand sign and the most amazing thing happened?! He got help immediately! He simply had to ask, and when he got the 'more' that he wanted the smile on his face told me how proud he was of himself.

So, after considering my options (I had a long drive to my parents house today to think about things) I realized two things...

1) I am a three year old who is whining and crying and demanding to be heard but I am not clear in my communicating
2) I have not really asked for help in certain areas of my life and those areas are in desperate need of help

I doubt I actually have my act together... I am probably going to have a hissy fit again at some point in the not too distant future but for the moment I am like Josh, discovering that communication is a handy tool and one that I should use on occasion.

January 19, 2011

Screwtape Letters come to life?

Ever had one of those weeks where the crap is coming at you from all fronts and you just want to hide? This is me this week... I find it actually a little funny that just on Sunday I was feeling so safe and protected in the shadow of the cross, and now here I sit dodging bullets from every direction. I can't go into details on a number of things, but I have been hurt this week by a number of things, people and situations and I am sitting here wondering if there isn't some crazy connection?! If maybe there isn't something to the discouragement that I am feeling. C.S. Lewis wrote a book called the Screwtape Letters, Tim and I read it once while on a road trip to visit my sister in Winnipeg. It is one demon writing to another underling demon about how to 'win' souls for their side. They didn't do things scary like in the Exorcist, rather they used hopelessness and discouragement to win their quiet battles...

So here I am, still sitting in the shadow of the cross but I can't help but wonder if Uncle Screwtape isn't sitting beside me trying to win my soul for his cause rather than just let me enjoy the warmth of Christ's embrace?

Back to work...

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?id=119486191439523&pid=135265#!/notes/horizons-photography/win-a-photo-shoot/174535279255521

Check it out and pass it on!

One more day...

We had another ECHO today for Joshua, he's such a trooper! In some ways it's so great that he is so good but it's sad too sometimes to see how he knows what they are going to do before they do it... he sticks out his finger for the SAT'S monitor, holds his arm up for his BP check, lays down when the he is put on the ECHO bed... all these things are a testament to what he has already gone through and I am so proud of him but saddened at the same time. I wonder what he will remember, if anything? Or, is this just something he will grow up thinking is a normal part of childhood and not really realize that life isn't supposed to be full of ECHO's and ECG's and all the other random tests that he goes through for Cardiology, Neurology, Eye clinics, etc.? Is it wrong to want him to have normalcy? (That is rhetorical of course... just thinking out loud here...)

His ECHO results were not what we had hoped for, his heart has not shrunk at all and his Triscuspid is not any better but rather looks a little worse... and he has an elevated heart rate which is a concern. However, his new pulmonary valve is looking good, he has gained 1 kilo, this is big! He hadn't been gaining weight well before surgery so to have a whole kilo post op is amazing! His energy levels are so much better and he is eating well, and in so much better spirits. He is a different kid in a lot of ways so I am thankful.

The temptation to let this get me down is there... I won't lie to you. It's been a very difficult week on a number of fronts and this is not what I had been hoping for in regards to this appointment... BUT... I am still feeling the warmth of the shelter God is using to protect me. So how can I possibly be anything but grateful? This is just a reminder that I need to keep praying for that miracle, keep walking that path of mustard seeds, keep finding hope and love and joy in the little things that life brings our way. I have to remember to keep thanking God for one more day, one more moment in life. There is enough worry in today without heaping tomorrow onto the pile... isn't that what God says? :)

January 18, 2011

YES!!!

YES...

It is a really interesting word when you think about it. How many times have you said yes and regretted it? How many times have you said No and regretted it? I know the answer for me is simple... I have regretted way more No's than I have Yes's.

Yes, leads us to a chosen field of study, a career, a dream, a relationship, a fun event, a child, a life. No, often that leads us to the couch where we stay because it takes a yes to get us off the seat to begin with.

I read a book once (very similar to the Yes Man movie with Jim Carey). The story if about a guy who was dumped and went into a funk... a couch sitting funk. His friends would invite him out, his job tried to advance him, he was offered a life countless times but always he said NO. Then one day while sitting on the tube he saw a sign... 'why not say yes today?' and so he decided to give it a go. He begins to say yes to everything and it leads him on an adventure that takes him from London across Europe and all the way to the land of Aussies where he meets the girl he ends up marrying. Yes, is a powerful, adventurous word.

On Sunday we heard Barry preach about YES, about saying yes for God... saying YES to our calling... just wanted to throw this out there... for you, for me, but more for God... YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! Laurie is ready, willing and able! If you could ask the question soon though it would be helpful... I have no idea what that calling is yet...

January 17, 2011

In the shadow of the cross...

I have not been blogging lately... between the Holiday season and the a trip to BC I decided it best to take a break... but also I wanted to reflect a little on the purpose of this Blog, why do I write it? What does it serve? Does it serve or am I just throwing out thoughts into the nether regions of cyber space and allowing my pride to believe that I am the next Blog of note? If my reasons are true, if they are noble then my pride needs to stay out of the matter and I need to speak from the heart and not the head where I write what I think people want to hear... that is a tough call. So, I had to think it out, I had to decide who I was doing this for, why I was doing it and if it was worth continuing.

I think it does have purpose, and I think that it helps me, and I believe that if I continue to write from my heart I should be okay with continuing it. So... back to Blogging!

For well over 6 months I have been sitting in what I had assumed was a dark place, somewhere lonely and cold and scary... last Sunday I had the pleasure of attending St. Johns Shaunnessy in Vancouver and I had an epiphany! I have not been sitting in the dark... I have been huddled up in the shadow of the cross, not even knowing it was beside me, casting a shadow to protect me from the heat of the dessert place. It wasn't until last Sunday that I looked up and saw his arms thrown open wide in an embrace that encompasses the world that I realized this astonishing reality. I hadn't even asked for his protection, he had moved me to the shelter of the cross before I had even known I would need it.

Part of my Blogging distress of late has come because of this 'dark spot' that I was sitting in. I don't want to live there, I want to move beyond it, especially now that Josh is looking so much better. I don't want my identity to be wrapped up in being the Mom of a Sick Kid. "Hi, my name is Laurie and I have a Cardiac Kid" sounds so lame! I would much rather say, 'My name is Laurie, I am the daughter of a King, I was blessed with a wonderful husband, we were entrusted with these two great kids, and I have a  job that I love!'... but all my Blog posts seemed to be about me working through the 'dark spot'. I was beginning to wonder if maybe I was dwelling, if maybe I was enjoying being the 'accident scene' that Blog readers the world over were rubber necking over. So I stopped, to assess my reasons and figure out my goals and motives.

That is when I realized that the dark spot, is actually the shade, and not just the shade of any old tree, but the shade of the cross... this is no dark spot. I am blessed, I am loved and I have hope beyond imagining for my kids, my husband, my job and my ministry and my husbands ministry and when the sun gets too hot I look up and find that the cross is above me, once again throwing a shadow. How cool is that?!

So, this new year will bring about a change in perspective, I will do my utmost to Blog from my heart (no matter how controversial) and if that brings a sad post on occasion then it's okay... that is life and we were never promised a pain free life.

January 14, 2011

January 7, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love

I flew out to Vancouver yesterday with my husband, we are here for both personal and some business. Friends got married yesterday and Tim was the officiant at the wedding and then I was the photographer, then on Sunday I will do a small photo shoot for the CMA, after and in between it's all fun! On the flight over I finally got to see the movie Eat Pray Love. It made my mind wander and thus I have thoughts to share...

For those of you who have not yet seen Eat Pray Love, it's about a woman who ends her marriage, then finds herself in a rebound relationship, only to discover one day that she has totally lost all sense of joy and wonder and passion in life. She can't breathe and needs a way out. Thus begins a 3 part journey, Italy, India and finally Bali, a journey to discover life and balance and who she is in the midst of it all.

I thought over the stages of her journey and thought over my life a little, you have the New York segment, where she is just moving along, unaware that there is a problem, or at least unwilling to change it if she did. She does what she wants, to who she wants and only at the end does she discover the consequences.

Then Italy! Ahhh Italy, this is the place where you move out of pain and just enjoy the numbing effects of food, love and emotional support for a while. I found that my time in the hospital with Josh was a little like Italy really, strange as that may sound given the horror of the situation but I found that I was so surrounded by love, had so many people visiting, writing and supporting me that it numbed me from the pain of the moment. Italy. I have always loved Italy.

India, dirty, busy filled with constant moving and honking and craziness, and then she lands herself in a meditative space. A place where she has no choice but to sit and look back at her life, to ponder the hurts she has suffered but also the hurts she has caused. Italy is long behind her and she now stands on the abyss of real life, real moments, real pain. This is where you often find the loneliness that has been waiting for you, the loneliness that you absolutely must survive in order to move forward, to forgive yourself and others, the loneliness that leads you to a place of joy.

Bali! Paradise, warm, peaceful, restful. The journey though long has finally brought her to a place of rest, a place where she feels more balanced, and she finds the chance to live into the changes she has made. She finds the hope, the joy and ultimately the healing that she has searched the world for. Bali.

I have moved, though unwillingly from Italy and now sit in India but I have Bali coming! :)