Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

February 28, 2011

Caught in the blast of winter...

I haven't had a lot of time to sit and write lately, nor have I had any real inclination. I have been busy learning yes, but too tired from it to actually share my thoughts with you. Let's call it the February blues... that thankfully end at midnight tonight! I am starting to think ahead to the summer with salivating tongue and drooling lips. I am sick of slush, ice, hats, mitts, boots, mucky floors, and other gunky things that come in the post Christmas winter. Snow is an acquaintance but slush is a flat out enemy! My house has been a construction zone, with holes and drywall dust EVERYWHERE, not to mention the tools and piles of work materials that have taken over the living space. Add to this the general worries, and the more acute worries with Josh's heart and I am finding myself at a loss for words. Frustrated, tired and just down.

A friend recently reminded me that I have forgotten to be grateful in the midst of this chaos. That I have love, that I have a home, that I have good doctors watching Josh... yes, I am certainly blessed. I do know this in my heart of hearts. However, honesty would not be honesty if I told you that I always felt that way. There are days when I don't feel grateful... there are days when I look at healthy three year old talking to their parents and enjoying life when I think to myself 'it's not fair'. There are days when I see a parent buy their kid something to eat without reading all the ingredients worrying that the wrong thing, a trace of nut or egg, could kill them or at the very least send them to the ER in a 911 situation, on those days I want to curl up and shake my fist at God and say 'it's not fair'. There are days I look at my house and the mess that it is, and feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that will need to be done to make it look normal again, and with Josh not sleeping through the night and no longer napping in the day I just feel too tired to cope with it all.

I have struggled with this, with how to write it and not come off as a spoiled brat... how to share honestly and remain transparent with you but to do so while at the same time making it clear that I do know, in my heart of hearts how blessed that I am. It's a contradiction I realize. The words and the heart are contradicting themselves. How can I be grateful but think it's not fair? How do I express that I feel loved, that I feel gratitude for the husband who loves me enough to rip my walls apart in order to make our electrical safe, but at the same time express that I am tired of the chaos in life. That I long, yearn even, for a time of peace. That while I am so infinitely thankful to the God who has spared my sons, one from his heart, and one from so far coming into contact with something dangerous to him, I am also just begging him for a time of recovery? A time of 'summer' shall we say, where I can rest in the warmth of the suns rays, a time when the cold slush of winter will no longer penetrate my bones.

I hesitate to call it ingratitude, but more a real and very pure weariness that has overcome me.

February 20, 2011

Not santa?

I am doing my best (Thanks to the church and it's E100 challenge) to get back to reading my Bible... and surprise surprise I am enjoying it! Who knew?! :)

Something jumped out at me, something that of course I need to share with you all. Joshua (the spy and new leader of Israel, not my kid) is walking on the plains of Jericho when he meets a man, he greets him and discovers that this man is actually a messenger of God... his first reaction? He bows low to the ground and asks what the Lord has to say to him...

I read this bit at a glance, just skipping along as if nothing had happened, but a few sentences later my eyes flicked back to it. He bows low and asks what the Lord has to say to him? This is new to me. Bows low? When do I, have I, would I ever bow low before God in ultimate surrender and reverence. This is GOD, the Lord of the earth, King of Kings, and when I speak with him I struggle to keep my eyes closed (or open if it's bed time). I rush through the prayer and never ever do I start with bowing low, removing my sandals because I am on Holy ground... never. This saddens me deeply, that it's taken me this many years to see him for what he is, and to see myself for what I am. The truth in his honesty the other night is stunningly clear. I do not bow, I don't worship truly. I am not in awe of this the King of Kings.

The second thing that Joshua did was to ask, 'what is it you the Lord would say to me?'. I shutter again because I can't remember the last time one of my prayers started with 'Talk to me God, what are you saying to me?'... Rather it is more commonly a plea or a request for help, a small word of thanks and then skip right down the nitty gritty of my Christmas list... Please God, do this, or that, help me here, or there... please God... When did the God I serve change from being the Lord of Lords that Joshua bowed low in awe and reverence of become a Santa Clause that we go to in times of want or need?

Not too long ago I blogged about prayers, with questions like 'do I pray everyday for him to answer something?'... I read it now and cringe. My heart aches with the knowledge of how small I have made my God, how little I have actually allowed him to do in my life because I simply wasn't asking him to talk to me. I long to be back in his full and glorious presence where I am so in awe of him that I can do nothing but bow low and worship Him.

February 17, 2011

and the results are in... wait.

Quick update... Josh had his appointment today and it seems that his heart rate is still an issue (although I don't know why or what that means). He is now wearing a holter which will monitor his heart for the next 24 hours (keeping it on him will be a trick although one friend suggested I try convincing him that it makes him look like Buzz Lightyear...) We won't know anything for a week so we are back to waiting and I don't think I need to tell you how I feel about that..

February 16, 2011

Tired today...

I always find it amazing that words hold as much power as they do, how a simple sentence can throw you into a random spin downwards or up depending not necessarily on the actual words but on how you choose to interpret them. I can sift through a sentence and hear someone affirm me or hurt me depending on how I choose to view their intentions, I can hear a word or two and choose to hear those over the sentence as a whole and choose to worry over something that maybe doesn't need worry.

Today I had a call from Sick Kids and our cardiologist... instead of waiting the six months as was intended she now has some concerns that she wants addressed and assessed tomorrow. (A non clinic day). I hear these words and I could think to myself 'she is being thorough and wants to cross T's and dot Is but instead, my heart races at the sound of her voice, even seeing her name on my phone has my sweat glands on alert and the words... all the possible case scenario's race through my mind. Regardless of the fact that it could very well be nothing immediate, or earth shattering, that's is not what I fear. Tell me not worry and I ask you how?! How do I not worry? How do I wait an hour let alone a 17.5 hours. I want answers, I won't relax until I get those answers and as I speak to the nurse and Josh listens I can feel his unrest, I see his face scrunch up and tears start to well up. It breaks my heart to know that the name of his Dr, now brings fear, unrest and upset to his poor little ears. When will this little boy know normalcy? Will he know it?

Do I need to always feel the sick gut feeling at the sight of Sick Kids, or even the signs adorning most bus stops these days 'Im a Sick Kids kid' in which every time I see it I see Josh's face and know it's not over, will never really be over. There is no cure for CHD, and only last week I spoke about the hope that we have in the research they are doing. It's true... I know in my head what my heart hasn't gotten yet. I still feel fear, I still worry, I still watch him play and wonder if that bomb inside his chest will go off one day without warning. I still watch him getting tired and wonder if it's a normal tired or a heart failure tired, I still get phone calls asking me to bring him in and still get that sick feeling in my gut when I do. What if I miss something vital? What if I don't see something significant? Hope or not, faith or not, I am his Mom and I am terrified that one day the options will run out, our time with him will come to an end...

All of this may be for naught, we could get there in the morning and get a good test result... I do know that intellectually... but it won't stop the worry tonight. It won't stop me looking for the early signs and symptoms of problems in all the little things he does. The day he won't eat his lunch it will cross my mind if he is showing signs of heart failure, if he wants to rest, heart failure? Grumpy? Heart failure? Not going to the bathroom as much... heart failure? No, the worry won't end, it changes, becomes less acute but it will never end, just as his heart won't fully mend, and knowing this... just makes me feel very tired.

February 14, 2011

What is it about Valentines Day?

Valentines Day... one day a year where men feel pressured to show the women they love that they love them, where they feel more stress surrounding their lovely girlfriends, or wives. Tough times for these men, I have heard the grunts and disapproval of Valentines day for years, from every male friend, every boyfriend and now I get it from my husband. The common refrain "I hate valentines day, why should there be one day when you are made to feel like you have to show your love, it should be everyday..'. My answer of course to those lovely men in the world who have said this... "yes, you should show love everyday..." and let's be honest, most of our men do show us. The big question is do we see it? Do we recognize it for what it is? My love language is gifts and time, Tim's are affection and service. So, we often miss each other's expression of love. He gets busy working on something that will make our home safer, and I see it as taking time away from me... he's loving me, and I am missing it. So, when this time of year runs around the circle and comes back to us and I hear his refrain I figure this... Today, of all the days in the year is one to remember the love language of your best friend, your husband, your wife. Today is the day that I show Tim with service that I love him, and the day that he buys me a gift to show me that I am loved. :) Today, of all the 365 days is the day that we make a point of thinking back on this valentine of ours, remembering the love that we have, revelling in the joy this person makes us feel. Today, above any other day is one marked with showing them, making sure they know without doubt that they are loved. Is it commercialized?... of course! So, is Christmas and Halloween and Easter... but Valentines day, like remembrance day should be looked on as a day to remember and to focus some time and energy to love, to your love. In a world and life where we can account for every moment in the day, with meetings, kids, school, work, etc. etc. isn't a good thing to set apart a day, night, hour to remember the one person that we share this life with? The person who loves us and whom we love so deeply?

So, to my Valentine... thank you for making the time today, to show me how much I am loved, and thank you for loving me every day in between. You mean the world to me!

February 12, 2011

The impossible 'more'...

I was going through my old journal today, thinking back to a world before kids and husband, to a place where I was 'free' to do as I would. To a world where I could pack a bag, catch a train and see new worlds that I had only dreamed of as a child. Prague, Venice, London, Paris, Nice, Rome, Berlin, the beaches of Spain... it was the stuff that dreams were made of. A world where anything was possible and life was full of people to meet, worlds to discover and hopes to accomplish. You know what I read in those pages? I read about a girl who didn't know what she had, a girl who had yet to discover the woman she could be. I read about hurts, disappointments and heart aches.

We tend to look back at things in life and see the good, see the blessings and the joys and casually leave out the parts that didn't make sense, or the parts that left us aching for more. I don't see in those pages the wonder of the world I was living in, but rather the dreams that I am now living. I see in those pages a girl who didn't know what she had, a girl who missed out on so much because I was too focused on the world I didn't have, or didn't feel I had.

It makes me question the way I view life now... do I realize how much I have in my life? Do I sit here in my cozy home, with my children sleeping soundly in their beds, my husband sitting on the couch and miss the wonder of this moment because I am wanting more? What more could there right? Yet that is always what we seem to be searching for... the impossible 'more'. More money, more affirmation, more love, more fame, more success, more, more, more and yet always still more.  When is what we have simply enough? When do we sit on the couch, look around us and smile and just say 'this is great' and revel in the thankfulness that we feel at the 'more' that we already have? At what point do we look back at the journal of our lives and see not the wanting but the simple wonder of the content we feel?

Am I at risk of missing this, of missing these few moments of my boys childhoods because of a striving for more? May it not be so, may I not take for granted the husband who works so hard to provide a safe and wonderful home for us, the man who loves me without hesitation no matter my mood, or my mistakes. The children who wrap their arms around me with giggles and smiles of love. May I never take one single moment of this 'now' for granted... 

Take a step

I have a few things kicking around this head of mine today, all of which stem from Chapter 8 of The Great Divorce... what a fantastic chapter!! I could read it again and again! The imagery is amazing and the message implied and otherwise... nicely done Mr. Lewis!

So Joe has hit a bit of a rough patch, almost like Peter when he steps from the boat in full faith and then begins to doubt, and sink. Joe gets off that bus believing, hoping and excited, ready to explore. Then after a chat with a very cynical ghost he begins to doubt. His faith is tested. What if this place is not what it seems? Why did these spirits who so want to help the ghosts now not want to do anything to help the 'town' (otherwise known as hell)? What if they mean to hurt them? What if there is no God but rather an army of spirits or gods who are out to destroy the people from hell? Our Joe is down, and undecided about what to do, he's looking for answers.

Oh how I feel Joe's frustration, anxiety and sadness here. To believe so fully and then have something thrown in your path that causes doubt. One thing, that threatens the foundation by which you have set your faith. For me, as most of you know it was my belief in miracles, my belief that God had a 'good' plan for Josh's heart issues... it rocked me. I was sinking and if not for the wonder of God's healing hand and loving patience I may well have  drown in a sea of doubt and lost my faith completely.

Joe as I mentioned is looking for answers, in his search he comes along another conversation between a woman ghost and a spirit who is like the other trying to convince her to move towards the mountains... This ghost touched me. She was shamed, and in that shame was too afraid to step out in faith, too afraid to come our from her hiding place and stand in full view of the others. She instead wants to stay, hiding, scared, hurting, when all she had to do to rid herself of the shame, is to step out from behind her shield, to become transparent and believe, have faith, open her mind to new belief.
The woman says:

"I wish I was never born" then "what are we born for?"
"For infinite happiness" The spirit said "You can step out into it at any moment..."
"But I tell you, they'll see me."
"An hour hence and you will not care, a day hence and you will laugh at it Don't you remember on Earth - there were things too ho to touch with your finger but you could drink them alright? Shame is like that. If you will accept it - i you will drink the cup to the bottom - you will find it nourishing: but try do anything else with it and it scalds"

WOW, step out in faith and leave shame and nakedness behind. What a powerful image.

February 9, 2011

Heartbeats

This week is CHD awareness week... what is CHD? Let me tell you... Congenital Heart Defects are structural problems with the heart present at birth. They result when a mishap occurs during heart development soon after conception and often before the mother is aware that she is pregnant. Defects range in severity from simple problems, such as "holes" between chambers of the heart, to very severe malformations, such as complete absence of one or more chambers or valves.

Josh, as you know is one of these kids, born with CHD. We knew his condition shortly after our 20 week ultrasound. He had a two vessel cord instead of a three vessel cord, this caused them to want to look deeper at his heart and kidneys. I was sent to Women's College for a stage 2 US that showed a ballooning right atrium which then led us to Sick Kids in Toronto where they did a fetal ECHO. It was the Fetal ECHO that resulted in his initial diagnosis. He had a totally blocked Pulmonary valve and at birth they discovered a number of other defects, the diagnosis was grim and abortion was offered as an option on countless occasions. As is often the case to my understanding.

People don't understand CHD and with grim tales of severe health risks and possible death they often feel that they cannot cope with the dire situation and opt for the 'termination' choice. I have written all about Josh's many heart complications, my reason tonight for writing is to offer hope to those people who hear the dreaded CHD diagnosis...

This is not a death sentence, yes, the possibilities are there. The sad fact is that some kids die from such defects and in the past it was considered terminal. HOWEVER, and this is a BIG, no HUGE however... In Canada today 50% of people with CHD are adults! This is an amazing statistic, it means that the research being done, the new procedures offered, the new devices being made, are offering our kids a chance at a longer life. Josh has one of those devices implanted in his heart right now! He is alive because of a 5 year old 'test' device. He has a new valve as well, and when the time comes for more work on his heart there will be even more hope, even more new 'tests'.

Do not let fear drive your choices, with CHD there is hope, there is no cure, there is a road to be travelled but let Josh be a testament to the joy that can be found on that road! His laughter fills a room, his life fills hearts around the world with joy and thanksgiving, his heart beats stronger than ever before because of the research being done, because of weeks like this where people are made aware of the hope, made aware of the truth behind CHD.

Please, forward this post to friends and family and help us to get the awareness out about CHD! Thank you!

My time in a coffin

The walk into the hospital last night was a nice distraction, a puzzle of sorts, or a maze maybe? If you find the MRI department you win a prize!! The Prize? Well, that was the sucky part... you win an MRI. The Little man that came to get me was pleasant enough, though flirting with my mother, when in my opinion he should have been flirting with me! :) My Mom is beautiful,  no doubt about that, but I AM THE PATIENT in need of buttering up!

So, I am forced to remove all my earring's... there is a lot, this was a process. I wouldn't budge on the nose ring... it stayed! I took my pill like a good little girl. Then they gave me that stupid gown, you all know the one I mean, with the open back that leaves you shivering when they are wanting you to be still?! So silly. However I complied. I figured the nicer I was, the nicer they would be... although they weren't nice enough to find some other way of getting the images they needed.

The little man left, and my Mom and I had time to chat, she told me to imagine having all the money in the world to buy any photo equipment I wanted... where would I shoot? What would I shoot?... something to consider while in the MRI. I popped a second pill, I didn't think the first would be enough. The little man came back... it's time.

I have had a number of surgeries, I suffered pain, real agonizing pain and I survived it without too much issue. This was worse than going in for a surgery that I knew would end up with HUGE pain (a C-section springs to mind)! My mind was going in circles, I wanted to come off as strong, stoic, fearless... it didn't happen. They had my lie down on the bed, gave me a cloth for my eyes, put a warm blanket on me then they strapped this box onto my head.... very close to my face... when I put my hands up to get it off it was locked in place. 

'Photo shoot, breathe, where? Venice, bridges with couples snuggling in watching the gondola's slipping by...'
They woman in the ear phones talks to me.. they are about to take the first image, don't move... in my head I realize I can't move, my arms are pinned on either side, only my legs can move.. breathe...
'Photo shoot... a meadow in the Alps, dancing little girls, flowers tucked in their hair, smiles, laughter, falling down... '
Next image.. you okay in there? My hearts is ramming so hard against my chest I feel like it is entirely possible that it will pop right out of my chest. How am I okay? I am in a coffin, having images taken of a brain that I have grown attached too, a brain they are scanning because there may or may not be a problem... breathe...

'Photo shoot... the rolling seas of Hawaii, night time, a luau in the distance, people dancing, lovers sneaking a kiss on darkened beach... catching the intimacy of the moment but not becoming a part of it... standing on he fringes, seeing the beauty, even longing or the romance of it but fully partaking...'
This next image is 5 and a half minutes.. stay still. Frustration is clawing at me. The double dose of sedation is keeping me calmer now, I am able to stay longer in the moments, picturing all the tinier details, the lighting, the lens, the faces, the trees, the shadows, the wind... an then there is this voice who keeps interrupting me, bringing me back to he horror of the box.. this cave that I cannot escape. I want to scream shut up but my fear of confrontation prevents it. Instead I become fully aware of the box, I feel the sides of the holder they have me in, I feel the closeness of the box around my head and I remember that it's locked in place, the warmth of the blanket has left and I am chilled, I open and shut my hands and remember that I have to be still... I can't move, I can't get out...

Breathe... I can't think of a photo shoot... where would I go? Who would I shoot? Nothing... my brain is a fog and the medication isn't helping me to focus, I am blurry and fuzzy and it dawns on me... I am high. This is 'high'... my urge is to giggle?! Really? I am in a tiny box from which I can't escape and my urge is to laugh? I think on this for a few moments before that dreaded voice comes back to remind me that yes, it's a big box, you are strapped in, you can't get out. This is when something new dawns on me...

How rare is it to actually be fully in the moment? How many times do we go through life thinking about what is next, where we have to go, what time we need to leave, who we need to email, chat with or facebook... what we want to do for our holidays, a coming birthday, Valentines Day. We live in the next moment, rarely taking time to sit in the present. This MRI, as heinous as it was, it was keeping me in the moment. I was feeling everything, I was fully aware of my body, fully aware of my fear, fully aware of the woman in the earphones, fully aware of the reason I was there. There was no getting out of that present, no matter how hard I tried to to escape. I had to live in the present for that 30 minutes.

I won't do it again unless I totally have to... but looking back I learned that maybe I should be living in the present more, so that those moments are not just painful scary ones, but the pleasant ones too. The moments with Kaleb snuggling me, or Josh giggling with me... instead of worrying that I am taking time from work, time from the dishes, the laundry etc. Just enjoying the good moments when I get them, and appreciating them for what they are.

All this to say that I am glad I didn't yell at the woman in the earphones, if not for her I would have missed the moment and had nothing to really blog about, other than Venice, Hawaii, the alps and all the shots I could have gotten... :)

February 8, 2011

Will I survive it?

I feel the air close in around me, the sweat snaking down my spine and pooling in the lip of my jeans. My heart rate increases, my mind stops working and my stomach twists and turns. I want to vomit but I can't even think straight enough to know it...

This is what happens to me when I am in a tight place, or trapped, or even just feeling trapped... I can't even think about an avalanche, or coffins or that one episode of CSI where Nick gets buried alive... chills just thinking about stuff like that. More than chills, true terror, panic that completely overwhelms me. Elevators are hard, the thought of being in a submarine makes me sick to my stomach, snow forts with no roofs? Never! I choose cremation without thought or question, won't even watch CSI, just in case, hate the signs on the mountain that say it's a high avalanche risk while snowboarding, even being under the covers too long is enough to cause my chest to constrict. If hugging my husband and my face is enveloped in his chest I need to pull away and move to a spot where I can feel the air on my face.

I don't know what caused this phobia, I hate that I am so irrational about it, I hate that I can't control it, or breathe it through. I hate that feeling of blinding panic that consumes me... I hate it. So, why am I writing this today? I need to face this fear tonight, I have an MRI, my stomach has been in knots for days now, my heart rate is up, my stress is coming out in an upset tummy, sore shoulders, grumpy mummy syndrome, grumpy wife syndrome and a deep deep deep desire to run and hide. I have pills, the doctor has prepped me so that I can will have something to relax me but apparently it won't make me sleep, just relax me... my temperature is spiking... breathe...

I have no purpose in writing this but to walk through my panic in a more helpful way... it's not helping. Will write tomorrow to let you know if and how I survived... if I don't post I am in a coma brought on by fear...

February 7, 2011

Can it be made right?

Have you ever loved something, really loved something, and then had it change or taken away from you and been left feeling bereft or angry? Have you watched something you love crumble beneath your fingers and not been able to do a thing to stop it? Have you been left to wonder why?

I have seen this happen a lot lately, with churches, with my Austrian home, with families... it hurts and yet there seems to be no logical reason. No way to stop the inevitable, no way to control the ultimate damage and hurt that it will cause. I heard this week about 2 little boys who are about to undergo a change that will likely damage them for life, but there is no way to stop it, no way to fix it and it breaks your heart, or mine at least. It causes anger and pain, even though I don't know these two boys, even though I have never met them or even seen them face to face. I feel for them and I am angry for them and I ache for the weeks, months even years of recovery that this will take if it's even possible to recover fully? I am left wondering, where is God in the midst of this? What is his plan? How can this be made right? Can it be made right?

I have heard of a church that was torn apart from the inside out, left in ashes and the culprit, gone to the wind, moving on to new and better things to destroy...

My castle home, once a thriving ministry is now a shadow of it's former self, the building remains but little else exists to stand as a testament to the lives that were changed there.

I have seen a friend be destroyed by change, left in the path of destruction and no one got in the way to stop the train or pull this friend from the tracks, nor was this friend able or willing to get out of the way...

So, today I am sitting here wondering why? Where is this all leading? What plan can possibly come from this? What good will come out of it? Is there something I should have done, could have done? Is prayer really the only answer to the pain I see steaming down the tracks at the people involved? Do I just sit by and do nothing or is my need to be God and take control getting in the way of God doing his work? What are you supposed to do in situations where there is nothing you can do?

February 3, 2011

Drop it you fool!

As you know we have been reading The Great Divorce, we moved into Chapter 6 and I was in awe at the way C.S. Lewis so eloquently described this particular character (the man with the Bowler hat). At the beginning of the story this man was talking with our Joe on the bus about his reasons for being on the bus. He described a lack of 'tangible' things in hell. He spoke of his desire to go to heaven and bring back items that are 'real' for the betterment of society. He wanted to bring people closer together, open a shop where you could get 'real' items, thus making people move closer together and ultimately serving himself, his standing in society and his wallet.

In chapter 6, Joe finds himself in a meadow near a great waterfall, he watches as the ghost in the Bowler hat tries through great pain and agony to gather apples from a tree. The apples are very heavy, and he has to struggle with a great amount of pain to gain even one of these apples to take back to hell. He suffers scrapes, deep wounds and agony and yet he will not give up. He continues for hours through this agony even after hearing a voice say 'Drop it you fool!' even after hearing that voice offer something so much more real, offers him to learn how to eat those apples here in heaven, rather than suffer the pain of just trying to pick it up for hell. It was a stunning look at how we as humans are in a constant struggle to gain the tangible, going in circles, causing ourselves pain and agony because we don't want to give up our own wants, our own betterment and our own success. The pain we are willing to suffer simply because we won't drop it is something that we all do and none of us with any success. Yet, when we give up, when we drop it, we are being offered a life of eating those tasty treats.

Why then do we cause ourselves the agony? Why not just drop it, whatever our 'it' might be? Our control, our selfishness, our victim hood, our idolatry and ultimately our agonies... When if only, we could just surrender those things we could live in the perfection of God's glory?

February 1, 2011

FYI

I have changed the domain name for this blog... you can now find me @ http://lensofmotherhood.blogspot.com/

Shades of Grey

It's been a very long and tiring weekend with all the birthday festivities and the residual 'over stimulized' three year old... (why we think this is a fun thing to do to our kids I am not sure? Who is it really for anyway, the kid or us?).. Anyway, the point is that Tim and I have been putting the kids down and then shutting down ourselves. Hence, no reading of the Great Divorce as of late. However, I will go back to chapter 4 and 5 for a moment if you don't mind. Something has been sitting with me, niggling in the back of my mind and I thought I would write it out.

Joe is listening to conversations in these chapters, over hearing spirits trying to help the ghosts, trying to get the ghosts to go on a trip to the mountains with them. They speak of taking their friends to see Heaven, that they want them to make the journey from the outskirts of heaven to Heaven itself. To see the face of God. The ghosts of course have many questions, concerns and ultimately they get back on the bus, unsure of the change, unsure of what lies ahead. The spirits warn them, that it's not going to be easy going, that the ground is hard and until their feet get used to it, it will be painful. This proves too much for the ghosts and always in the end they get back on the bus.

My mind had been tumbling around two things from these chapters. One, that this is a change, and that change is hard. One needs to want to change, one needs to want to move into this new realm, even if the road is hard and painful. This is where I also stop and ponder. The road is hard, it's a journey that is painful, not once were we promised a painless journey. We find a place in life that is easy, or at the very least comfortable and we are unwilling to make the harder journey to a more fulfilling place, a place where we can see God's face, a place where we can live into the beauty that we were created for. I have seen it in my own life, and I have seen it in friends lives. We live in the shades of grey, unwilling to move into full light and yet we believe it's enough, we believe that the sun will come out to where we are... but what if it doesn't? What if, we are meant to make that journey to the mountains? Hard road or not, pain or not? What if we could just make that trip, hard as it might be and see the Glory of Gods face, see the radiant sunshine and live under it's warm glow for eternity instead of trudging around in circles under a grey sky?

Once a day or Once?

I am wondering what prayer is, what it really truly looks like? If I send out one prayer, will it go on continuously or do I need to repeat the prayer until it's answered? These are serious questions, I have no idea of the answers and would welcome your insight! This is truly as mysterious as the fog in the early morning!

If I pray in earnest for something... like Josh for example. Will those prayers be any more heard than the ones I pray once or twice a month about? I have certain friends that I pray for and have done for years, consistently (although not as frequently as I would like). Do those friends suffer my lack of regular prayers? If I pray for guidance, just once, will God be working in the between time, until I pray again? Or, alternatively should I pray for guidance every day?

This is what I know... Prayer = relationship with God. To commune with him, sharing doubts, fears, hopes, to seek help, to seek strength and guidance. This too is something I know... God is not Santa Claus, there simply to hand our wish list too while sitting on his knee. No, there is more to prayer than that, and there is more to prayer than having our own needs met. I have to believe that God enjoys hearing from us, just as a parent enjoys hearing how their child's day has gone. So, my  questions are not so much about the daily act of praying to communicate with Him, but rather when we have something particular that we are praying for.

I am seeking some answers to a few questions, I am seeking guidance. So, when seeking something really straightforward, do we petition him daily, twice daily, monthly or is once enough. If I ask him for an answer, can I leave it with him and know that that is enough? Will he even in the midst of me asking, or even before me asking, be working it out, getting the answer ready, and will he, even after my silence be working on getting me that answer? Is it a question of trusting him? Or, as I mentioned, should I be asking daily? The mystery is fun for a while but...

Oh how I wish he were hear... to just answer the questions right when I ask! :) (the impatience is showing again isn't it?)