Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

March 31, 2011

God breathed!

I have been going to church my whole life, I have heard thousands of sermons and fallen asleep in many a church service... I have been impressed by few however, and often feel confused or unsure of what was being said. I remember one preacher years ago who seemed to go in circles around something that I think could have been important but then in the end he didn't follow through... frustrating.

I have seen some amazing preachers, teachers who walk you through a passage and make it so real that you can smell it, taste it and you leave knowing exactly where he was going, what he meant, and changed by the experience.

Is God a part of it? YES, of course he is. He calls people to this position according to the gifts he has given them, and sometimes, he uses this person to literally touch your heart and speak truth into your life. It's a beautiful thing to see. For those of you who don't believe that God still works in practical ways in today's world I ask you to head to church, watch a man/woman called by God preach a God breathed sermon, and allow yourself a moment to return to your childlike faith. God absolutely still works in today's world, practically, skillfully, and he uses his people to do it.

I mentioned some of the preachers who have been less than great in my opinion, now, let me tell you about some of the people who fascinate me with their ability to preach. I once heard a sermon by a guy named Norm, he spoke with a humble heart but with the words of God, and his sermon was outstanding. Tim Keller is another example of a preacher who can, but lately there is a preacher who has been speaking to me more and more, I have watched this man grow leaps and bounds as a speaker and I have seen God pull his gifts out of him and use them to speak truth into the lives of many. People will think I am biased when I give the name of this preacher but I promise you I say this as objectively as possible.

Tim Haughton, Minister of Discipleship at St Paul's Bloor street in downtown Toronto is one of the most gifted preachers I have had the pleasure of listening to. I have personally seen how he mulls over a passage, asking God to speak into it, I have watched as he wrestles a topic through so that he can best get his point across. His passion for teaching and preaching comes straight from God, and in his obedience to this call I have seen him grow, learn, and ultimately get better and better.

When you try to tell Tim how great the sermon was, or how much he has improved, he simply says 'praise God' and moves on to a new conversation. So, you ask... why are you writing about this? What do you gain? Well, simply put. I am just really proud of my husband, but I am also proud of my pastor who is seeking God to speak through him. This man that God gifted me with has an amazing ability and I want to let him know how much I respect him and how proud I am to be his wife, and his parishioner!

March 28, 2011

I used to sleep in until noon!

This morning I was woken before the sun by a little voice calling periodically 'Mummy'... The first time I heard him calling I went in to settle him, but found him wide awake, I told him that though he may feel awake it was actually not time to wake up and Mummy was going back to bed so he should too. I closed the door, walked down the hall, crawled back into my own bed, closed my eyes, almost fell asleep... then that little voice again... 'mummy?'... I rolled over, closed my eyes again and attempted to once again find that dream state I had been so rudely woken out of. Silence settled on the house, I drifted off again, and then, there it was again... 'mummy?'... I could almost imagine his little head working... 'mummy? where did you go? I thought it was time to play? can we play? I want to get up, can you come back please so that I can play trains, cars, read books, or just generally wreak havoc on the silent house'...

Silence again, this time it lasted a lot longer but there was a new problem. I needed to use the washroom... ARGH! I lay there, hoping against hope that the feeling would pass, that I would manage to get back to sleep. I finally gave in and got up, trying to be as quiet as possible so that I wouldn't disturb the little men down the hall from me. I almost managed it too, but alas, as the door squeaked shut on my bedroom once more I heard the giggle of my youngest and the pondering of my oldest... 'mummy?'

I sigh and once again find my way to my bed... making sure to nudge Tim awake as I do. We lie there in the silence and listen to the happy yet loud sound of our kids waking up from a good nights sleep... it's a good feeling, one that I don't want to get used too, but one that I don't mind on occasion. As I begin to realize that sleep is not going to come back to me this morning I take a moment to mourn the days of sleeping till noon and going to bed at dawn... oh how life has changed!

March 26, 2011

I have been neglecting my Blog as of late, a number of reasons have caused this, I have been busy, and I have had writers block. The things I most want to write about I can't and what does that leave you with? I could tell you about the trip we made to Barrie, the one where both kids were sick and had the runs, where the dog took two steps into the hotel and promptly pooed on the floor, where we drove to the cottage and found that we had to dig through three feet of ice to get Tim's bike out of the drive way... but that isn't very interesting...

I could tell you about the trip to the Sugar Bush, the one that wore both boys out, but put Kaleb to sleep in the car almost immediately and then had Josh smacking him in the head the rest of the ride home saying 'up' to wake him up... the same trip where we went on a wagon ride and discussed the whole time why we feel that wagon rides are so fun?! I mean, it's slow, through boring scenery, in the cold... and either on a hard bench or an itchy bale of hay, neither of which are overly enjoyable and yet every year at Fall and Spring we go for wagon rides through the pumpkin patch or the sugar bush and to our puzzlement.. it's fun.

Yeah,  I could write about a lot of boring little things, but the things that matter most in life right now, the stuff I care most about is something I can't really share online. So I have been left speechless. I am not ignoring you, I miss the blogging more than I thought possible but I also don't want to waste your time... as I seem to be doing now in an attempt to explain my absence.

On to the Post - I am once again thinking about community, what it looks like, what it really means. I have been reading a chapter about it in a book by Tim Keller, he speaks about Community being a place where you are accountable to others, and yourself, where there is a commitment to each other, not a drop in place that you can come and go to but a place where you are expected to show, expected to engage, and where you can count on others doing the same. A place where you are to help others, and where they are to help you, where you carry each others burdens and not carry your burden alone. A place where you are accountable to your community, in honesty relating to each other about your thoughts, feelings, and truths of your life.

I had a friend point out to me recently how hypocritical, naive and silly Christians can be, and sadly I was forced to agree with her on many of the points she made. However, if looking at true community within a group of people who all admit the same place as a starting point 'sinner' and are all striving for the same destination, trying to help each other through that journey, navigating for each other and sometimes driving for each other... well, it seems that if you could find that place, that community, or even create it for yourself... then life would be a little more the way that God intended. A lot less lonely, slightly easier, instead of the endless pain and suffering that we put ourselves through.

March 15, 2011

Return on my Investment!

I am always getting lessons in patience, most of which I tell you about, but this week, that patience is being rewarded with some Huge returns on my time investment! Josh is talking more this week than I have ever heard before! He is seeming to want to learn the alphabet so I have been taking him through it in a number of ways, trying to make it fun and interesting, I have a new app for my phone that teaches it, I have cards, a place mat, and the best tool ever is

We have been running through these options for a few weeks but this week I have really focused on it, we have 20 minutes of 'computer play' in the morning (starfall) and then when his brother naps he goes outside to play for as long as he likes (it's cold so it's been about half an hour). Then he comes in, has milk and a cookie and we sit and go through our ABC's together. It has been so fun! We say the letters and then the sounds of the letters and then we spell out words. Today we spelt out boy and he he read it! 'BOY' being a new word! Earlier today he saw the letter 'b' on a card and pointed to it he said 'b' and looked at me. He says' a number of letters and I am finding that he is wanting to copy me where when using words he seems to have no interest in copying me. He wants to learn but not communicate... :) Typical man I should think.

My little reader at 10 months old
 He is three years old, he's had what most studies say is way too many anaesthetics for his age (not sure of the exact statistics but I have seen them and they are scary), he's been on narcotics and many other meds, he has spent months flat on his back with a failing heart, he's had a stroke, he was a preemie, he was born under stress and not supposed to live at all... all of these things, and the only problem that we can see from it all is finally on the road to developing.
What a miracle this boy is!

March 14, 2011

Terror in the Tubes

 On Thursday my Mom came for a visit, we took the boys to MC Donald's playland for lunch. A friend had suggested a new one that I hadn't known about which was much closer to where we were. We
found a table in the playroom (no small feat!) and began to settle in. Kaleb in his highchair and Josh tearing off to discover the bounty of MC Donald's playland slides and tubes and mazes!

This is a google image,  not one of mine

We took turns getting food, my Mom going first, and I went second. I sat at the table with Kaleb and a little boy from a few tables over brought Kaleb a balloon, thrilling Kaleb to no end, they threw the balloon back and forth to each other for a time before the little boy got bored and moved on to bigger and better things, leaving the balloon ('ball' according to Kaleb) with Kaleb.

I sat watching the kids playing and I heard a very familiar screaming, terrified screams, coming from the entrance of the play structure. I looked over and Josh was standing there, sheer terror on his face. I went running over and scooped him up, cuddling him and assuring him that he was okay, trying to figure out if he'd fallen or just been afraid... (hard when your kid still won't talk). Then a woman approached me and had her son apologize to Joshua, when I asked what happened she said that her son could be loud sometimes and it scared Josh. This is when little red flags went off, Josh is LOUD, he rough houses all the time and has endured much in his childhood... a little noise from another three year old doesn't instill that kind of terror from him. I however chose to ignore the incident and Josh seemed happy to continue to play so on with lunch we went. My Mother came back, we began to eat and I noticed that I hadn't seen Josh in a a little while.

I searched around and finally spotted him way up at the top of the structure in a little plexi-glass bubble smiling down on me and sitting quite happily. That was when I saw hands reach out and start hitting Josh on the head, Josh's smile crumpled and he began to scream again, his little hands pressed against the glass and calling in terror for his Mummy. I felt sick watching the display in front of me and not being able to help, I called to Josh telling him to come down the slide to me, but he wouldn't move, my Mother who was further to the side than I was leaned back and could see the same little boy (bully) blocking Joshua's path, separating him from coming to us. Heat and anger filled me and my mind searched for a solution while raw Mother bear instinct had me wanting to rip the tube apart grab the bully away from my son and deliver him to his mother who sat chatting in a corner with her friend, totally unaware of the antics of her son, of which included hitting three kids that I saw and punching a woman in the stomach, as well as trying to steal Kaleb's balloon).

I saw a little boy who was older and I grabbed him, asking him to help us. He and his sister went racing to the rescue, they chased the bully away but try as they might they were unable to get Josh to follow them, so instead they sat with him, calming him down and trying to get him to go with them. A crowd of parents was growing at the bottom of the apparatus, waiting to see the outcome of Josh's heartbreaking plight. He continued to call down to me, and finally despite the rules I pulled off my boots and began the assent to get my son. Vaguely I heard my Mother say 'do you want me to go?' but my only clear thought was that I had to get to my son. It was about three minutes into the maze of tunnels that I realized what I had done. Here I was, an adult who was terrified of the MRI machine and now I was a quarter of the way up in a tube built for three year olds, no air, kids in line behind me and endless tubes in front of me. The heat clawed it's way up my body, sweat trickled down my spine and panic was at the edge of my consciousness. Fear, cold and paralyzing was clawing at me and I could hear my Mother's words 'do you want me to go?', the stupidity of ignoring those words hit me full in the face. Kids were itching to get past me but the thought of them moving past me, pushing me even closer to the hot, airless plastic tube, had me telling them to be patient in a not very patient voice. I was calling Josh and though I could hear him I couldn't find him. Turn after turn I went, the tubes endless and with no holes to allow fresh air in. I climbed and climbed, too afraid to turn back and yet terrified that I would panic and be useless to Josh who clearly needed me not to panic. Just when I thought I would not make it I turned and there to my right, sitting in the plexi-glass bubble with the two kids I had sent up was Josh. Relief filled my heart. I had done it, I had gotten to him, he was okay. However, then he raced to me, put his arms around my neck and clung to me, creating even less room in the tiny tube than there had been. I knew I couldn't stomach turning around, going back through the maze of tunnels again so I turned to the boy (he was about 8 years old) and I asked him 'how do I get out of this thing?' and with a benevolent smile he said 'there's a slide this way mam'.  I had apparently thrown away all pride, because not only was I allowing my panic to show to this 8 year old child but I was even okay with him calling me 'Mam'. He led me through one last tunnel and then, all of a sudden I felt the cool air hit me as the tunnel open into a netted little room. I sat down and breathed, counting to ten, breathing... that air felt so good on my skin, I could have stayed in that little netted room for the rest of the day, but the fact was that I had one more tunnel to face, there were three kids with me, I was the adult, and yet I couldn't bring myself to get a grip. The older boy went down the slide first, then Josh and then the little girl tried to let me go first but I needed air for just a few minutes longer. We went back and forth a few times but then she finally went. At the end of the tube I could hear the cheers that told me that Josh had made it safely to the bottom, and I knew that my Mom would comfort him sufficiently, the temptation to remain in this netted room was great. Finally I mustered up all of my courage and with eyes closed I entered the tube slide and pushed myself through yet another tube of terror...

When I reached the end I got no cheers, in fact no one seemed to notice me come out at all, everyone was so focused on Josh that my great feat as a mother had gone un-noticed. My mother of course knew, and once again reminded me that she had offered to go for me, the panic still turning my stomach around in knots told met that I should have listened to my her.

There is no life lesson here, perhaps a lesson for MC Donald's to make it easier for parents to get to their child if the child needs them or is hurt, but other than that there is no real purpose to me writing about my terror in the tubes of playland, other than to share it of course, which I was asked yesterday to do.

March 8, 2011

Birth Order & Rights

It seems that I have stirred things up a little bit with my "Rules of Engagement" post. Not only has it become a matter of debate between the battle of the sexes but it has also caused a stir with birth orders... it would seem that I caused some trouble. :) (and there you have the gist of the post, as the youngest, my job is to stir the pot and cause some trouble...)

Let me be clear on a few things...

1) I am the youngest - my birth order left me little choice in how I treated or reacted to my sister. It was a birth rite. You know, she used to drag me around the floor by the foot, giving me carpet burn on my poor baby's head, and once tried to throw my in the dumpster outside our apartment, just as the garbage truck was about to dump it, and that the day I was brought home from hospital she tried to get them to return me to the store, asking if master card would return me? So, what choice did I have but to spend my life studying her, finding out the things that irritated her and then acting out those things. I was getting my own back! (I believe this Blog may even get a favorable response on that front).

She (my sister) would argue that I went above and beyond, she would defend her argument with things like 'she stole my clothes', annoyed her to no end in the car, or some similar offense. However, viewed from my perspective you might be a little more understanding...

You see, I thought she was so cool, so amazing, and I love her so much, that I wanted to be just like her... thus, I did 'borrow' her things from time to time... but only because I thought she was so cool!! How can you get mad for that right? The times I 'crossed' the tape line she created, that was only because I liked her, wanted to spend time with her. The times I came into her room without asking, again, I wanted to spend time with her. The times in the car, when I tried to engage her in play? Well, she read too much and I would hate to see her miss out on the fun of a road trip! You see, what I am trying to say, is that, as the youngest I was misunderstood... and as the youngest I can safely assume that most youngest siblings are.

The second hornets nest I have stirred up is the sexist one... and all I have to say to that is...

2) I am a girl, girls rock, we are smart, therefore we need not resort to fists, we instead use our intellect, we have a higher maturity rate, therefore we settle disputes in a more mature way, using words, and thus eliminating the need for brutality.

A Love Letter...

I can think back to a thousand different moments when the earth was tilted perfectly on it's axis and my world was indeed perfect. The day I landed in Austria, the adventure spread out in front of me, the day someone put a camera in my hand, the day I met my best friend and husband, the day he told me he loved me, the day he married me, and the day that we held our children for the first time. Those are moments that have been branded in my heart for a lifetime, there are more of course but for the purpose of this Blog I will simply mention those.

I want to tell you about this man I married, this guy that God so lovingly placed in my path. He is smart, he is sweet, he is quick to admit his fault and apologize, he is generous and loyal, he is strong and protective, he is an amazing Father and wonderful provider. I couldn't have chosen a better guy for me if I had spent my entire life searching. He was made for me, and in my heart of hearts I know that God moved us to each other's path, because separately we were headed in different directions. I had a plan for more adventure overseas and Tim's path was keeping him in Toronto.

Tim was born in the UK, I was born in the US, yet we found each other in Canada, if we had met in school we wouldn't have meshed, Tim being a rule follower and very smart, me always skirting the edges of conformity that teachers don't understand but could all be placed under the title 'artistic child, teach differently'. I was rebellious, Tim confident in his place, I was angry, Tim was at ease. He would have thought me too wild and I would have thought him to straight. Then life taught us both some lessons, I learned that peace is better than anger, that some rules are there to protect you and that you can get hurt by rebellious choices, Tim got in touch with an angry rebellious side that allowed him to understand that side of people. Even though we didn't know each other; God was preparing us for each other. So that, on the day we met there was a peace to our connection, there was a knowledge, that his person, this man, is the one that I have been waiting for. This is the one that I was trying to make previous boyfriends into. This is THE ONE. It wasn't long before we were married, from first date to wedding day it was just a few days past nine months, and yet on that day I knew without doubt or questions that I was in the perfect place for me, I was on the path that I was made to be on.

Through out the journey that we have embarked Tim has stood strong beside me, standing in front of me and bracing us from the winds when they come and holding the umbrella when the rains threaten to drown us both. He has offerered a warm embrace and quiet restful place to hide, he is so much more to me today than the day I first said 'I do", I love him more than I dreamed even possible. There is no one on earth that I would have wanted to walk this road of life with. No one who could have been a better Father or Husband to the boys and I. We are perfectly suited. Laughing can be hard sometimes, life gets hard and the storms threaten to devour you, but with Tim we are finding ways to bring laughter back to our lives, and the lives of our kids. I watch him playing with the kids, wrestling and chasing them, and I smile because I know that there are going to be hard times ahead but if we can weather these last few years and find fun and laughter on the other side then there is hope for tomorrow, and with God as our guide I know that the love will only grow stronger, deeper and more fulfilling as time goes on.

In a sense this is a love letter to Tim, a testament to what I feel for him, who he is as a person but also who he is to me. He's someone I respect to no end, someone who is self aware and can say I am sorry without qualms, someone who doesn't allow the sun to set on anger, someone who makes coffee every morning just because he knows I like it, he is someone who will work tirelessly at work all day and come home and work tirelessly here, making our home safe and beautiful. He is someone who watches the kids when I go to the gym and then when I get home I find the house clean as well. He is someone who sacrifices for us, so that we can have something that we want or need, putting his own desires aside. This man that I married has faults, we all do, but he is willing to hear me when I point out his flaws and he listens without being defensive (something I am not very good at). He is someone who is self aware enough to know when he has hurt me, and comes to me, most of the time before I even need to say anything. He is kind, he is strong, he is a hard worker and confidant, and the best part is...? He loves me, and every morning he wakes up and chooses to continue loving me, regardless of my grumpiness, regardless of my failings as a wife or mother, my sensitive side that allows hurt to be burried and linger, regardless of the anger and frustrations of dealing with a sick child, or finding myself struggling for the last year. This man, in spite of myself, chooses to go on loving me, to go on holding me close and offering himself fully and compeletly regardless. How I came to know this man, to be loved by this man is truly a gift, one that I have at times been known to take for granted, but one that when I lay my head on the pillow at night to rest I thank God for.

March 3, 2011

Rules of Engagement... (No Moms allowed)

Boys.... Oh how different they are, and they are so determined to make sure that I know each and every difference this week. The fights for example... is it necessary to punch, push and bite to get the point across?

Oh yes, it really is... when you are a boy.

There are rules, rules that no one told me about, rules that I don't like but seem to be naturally ingrained in them, rules that are all a part of this secret 'code' called brotherhood that as a Mother (That being said like it's a terminal illness rather than the life bearing creature that we are) has no right, nor should she expect to get the key to that code.

Lets run through a few of these 'rules of brotherhood' shall we? (This has been decoded merely by viewing, I have not been given the key, nor do I ever hope to get the key, however through my amazing ability to observe I have decoded a few of the rules..)

1) If your brother has a toy, it's okay to push, hit, wrestle to the ground, beat to a pulp, the offending brother in order to get that toy.
2) If you are offered a toy, but say no to it, and then when it's given (or taken) by your brother you decide that you had actually wanted that toy, then it's okay to push, hit, bite or wrestle to the ground the offending brother.
3)If you are the younger brother, and by chance you discover something that clearly irritates your elder brother, then it's okay to do that irritating thing to him until he pushes, hits, bites, beats you to a pulp, and it's a necessary reaction to cry and feign injury while seeking out your Mother.
4)If you are the older brother, and you know that your younger brother has a special toy, or security blanket/stuffed doll, it is IMPERATIVE that you steal said toy/blanket/stuffed doll at least 12 -20 times a day, making sure to dangle said toy/blanket/stuffed toy, right under the nose of the crying snotty nose brat who ruined your prefect little world with his existence.
5)If you get a cookie, I get a cookie, by any means necessary.
6)If you have milk, I get milk, by any means necessary
7)If your mother angers you, it's okay to take out your frustration and anger on the closest sibling at hand (even if that is a dog)
8)If your Father makes you mad, it's okay to take out your frustration and anger on the closest sibling at hand (yes, even if that is the dog)
9) If you are close to your brother, and discover that he has some skin visible, it's absolutely important to bite that skin
10) If you are close to your brother and he is sleeping, getting sleepy or just cranky because he's tired, your job is to wake him, stick your finger in his nose to keep him from falling asleep or find any other way possible to increase crankiness at least two points on the richter scale.

There are more of course, but as I mentioned I am just the Mother, I am not privy to the rules of engagement nor to the 'code'. However, there is one last observation to the 'code', one last rule that I have seen time and again, and of all the rules this is the one that seems to be the KEY to all the other rules, this is the MOST important of all the rules. The very first LAW of brotherhood...

11) While you have every right, to push, hit, bite, pinch, punch, kick, wrestle, wedgy or just generally pound to the ground your brother, should anyone else DARE to mess with him (yes, even the dog) then that person has made themselves fair game to any and all punishment. The accused  has gained the wrath of a brother, and should cower in fear or just run for cover...

'For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother' William Shakespere

March 1, 2011


A few interesting things have run through my mind since my post yesterday, call it what you will but I believe that God is speaking to me. For one thing, he is asking me to let go, let go of all that is stressing me, let it go and trust him blindly, as our Rector said on Sunday 'He knows where he is going'... hence I can trust it and follow along for the ride. The second thing, is this...

Live So simple, yet so hard sometimes. I have been asked to choose, to accept what is already mine, what has already been given to me, all that I need to do is reach out and accept it. Life... Life in the here and now. No worries about tomorrow, no stressing the past. Just LIVE.

Our small group will be looking at Jeremiah 29: 4-14 this week, and if I am honest I will tell you that up until this week I have been irritated with this passage (or more specifically, verse 11). It's often handed out in bad times as 'Read Jeremiah 29:11' for the promise that no matter what bad situation you are in, God has a plan for our welfare, hope and a future. This is I admit is a comforting thought, however, taken out of context by so many. This is from passage where God is speaking through his prophet to Jews who were sent into exile. He is asking them to build houses, to enter relationship with the people in their new city, to have children, in essence... he is asking them to LIVE. I imagine that they must have been thinking, this is temporary, this won't last forever, why settle down here? Why build relationships? We we will be going home soon... but then God steps in.
'When 70 years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill my good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you' declares the Lord 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me, and find Me when you search with your whole heart. I will be found by you'.
I have been reading this passage once a day since last week... because it's one that I have always been irritated by. This is not God saying to us 'I have a plan for YOU, to prosper YOU, to give YOU a hope and a future... This is God saying, I have a plan for my people, and it struck me this week, that I am a part of his people, I am a citizen of his Kingdom, he has a plan to give my Kingdom a hope and a future. Let's not kid ourselves, during that 70 years did no one die? Did no one suffer? How can we hold onto a promise that is not really a promise for our own welfare but for the welfare of the Kingdom? God has a plan for us as his people, he has a plan to prosper his people and give his people a hope and a future... does that mean that part of his plan isn't going to mean pain for me? I don't know. Could the life of my son better serve the Kingdom if he is taken from me too early? His plan, his ways are not always our own... therefore, the promise, can not mean me personally. His plan for our prosperity cannot be for me, BUT, his plan, his ultimate plan will be fulfilled and be for good and hope and a future. This we can hold onto... this we know, that if we give it up, follow him, ultimately, no matter what happens to us here on earth, he has our best interests at heart. He has a plan for us, for his people, for His Kingdom that lives for eternity. Does this sometimes mean suffering? Yeah, sadly that is a part of life here on earth since Genesis 3. What he asks of us during our time here, our time in exile so to speak, it to LIVE, to move in, build homes, relationships, to pray for the place we live, to care for the people around us, to look after the place where we are. To Live...

I have not been 'living'... I have been stressing the past, worrying about the future, bemoaning the burdens placed on us, and somewhere in there I have ceased to LIVE.  So, I will give it up... all of it... I will let go, and I will trust that God knows where we are going and all I need to do is follow him.