December 31, 2011
we are staring down our noses at 2012... sometimes I can't believe it, I still remember the millennium like it was yesterday and here we are 12 years later!? I guess I am getting older.
Last year I wrote a poetic tale of our lives over the last 5 years, and I spoke about the wonders that the suffering has given us. Now as I sit here, thinking over 2011 I realize that what I thought was blessings last year has paled with comparison to the year we have just traveled. Tim and I joked last year that 2011 would be a year to rest, and this year I know better than to say the same. 2011 we walked our son through yet another open heart, we cared for our youngest through some scary asthma attacks and allergy troubles, but more importantly we fell more in love with eachother and our kids, we continued to build a home together and make it both safe and comfortable for the boys. We made new friends, we were blessed by old friendships and saw those friendships grow deeper. We laughed, a lot. We cried, but we knew joy despite circumstance, and we felt God closer to us than ever before. We have seen miracles in our lives, and in the lives of our friends, we have seen God's face, known his comfort, presence and peace and we have come to know a deeper, more meaningful faith. We have heard our youngest speak his first words, and we have discovered that our oldest has a voice too, and we have enjoyed listening to his thoughts. We have spent quiet nights reflecting on life, love and hope and we have begun to learn what prayer really is, what it means, what it's purpose is and through it we have begun to know a fuller life.
2011 is over, in a few hours it will be the past and we will begin to look once again into the face of the future and as we do we will do it knowing that whatever happens this year, good or bad, we will sit down in one year and know that we are blessed, loved and tucked safely in our Father's arms.
May you each find the blessings of 2011 and move with hope and peace into 2012! Happy New Year!
December 29, 2011
one day you are sitting holding your baby, feeding him, changing him, loving him and cuddling him. He's chubby, cherub like, his round cheeks rosy and his smell uniquely baby. Then one day you look up and see a little boy, he's skinny, he's running around the house wreaking havoc on anything in his path, he's chasing the dog with a treat, teasing him and laughing, he's driving trucks over your toes, one day you look up and see he's grown up on you. That has happened this week with Kaleb, all of a sudden he's taller, he's skinnier, he's less baby and more boy.
I was okay with Josh getting older, seeing him progress has been fun and exciting and such a blessed relief that I almost long to see how he'll grow, who he will become, what God has in mind for him. Kaleb though, he's my baby and as I watch him sprout into boyhood I can't help but lament the loss of our 'baby' years. (That is until I think about the sleepless nights, the cluster feeds and the crying that seems to never end).
Watching these boys grow, and having just left Christmas behind I am looking forward and realizing a few things that I need to start praying about now in order to be prepared. These boys are on loan, one day they will leave me and they will love another woman, they will become men and I will no longer be the one and only woman in their lives. One day I will have to let them go or risk losing them completely. One day I will miss all the insanity that these years will offer me, I will look back at pictures and miss them as they were, I will want to go back in time. Men leave and cleave, that's the way it is. I know it in my head, but I need to start to prepare my heart for that reality today, I need to pray that I will have the grace to let them go when the time comes. I need to pray that on the day they leave, the day they choose another woman, I can accept her as my own so that I don't lose him. I have to pray now that I will be strong enough to allow them to become men, to trust their judgment, hear their advice, let go of control and allow them to spread their wings as God intended them to do. As I watch them grow, I will need to enjoy every hug, every kiss, every 'I love you', every parenting opportunity and one day when they are grown and gone from my home, I will know I have served them well, my heart will rejoice in the knowledge that I have raised them to be good men, but it will also ache for the days gone by, it's how motherhood is I guess, always a mix of bittersweet, but as most of you know, with bittersweet chocolate you can make chocolate chip cookies!
December 28, 2011
December 24, 2011
Tonight, as the lights go out on another day and you prepare to greet the tree in the morning I pray for you that you also prepare to open your hearts and minds to the true meaning of Christmas. I pray you find peace this season, that you meet Jesus in a new and exciting way and that no matter what tomorrow or the new year bring; that you find joy in unexpected places. Tonight, as we think back to Christmas's gone by I pray you can let go of old hurts, heal old wounds and enjoy the peace that Christmas represents. Christ was born and died so that we might know life to it's fullest and it started on Christmas. This is not just a season of gifts, not just about getting together as family but it's a time when we are to open our hearts to the Savior of the world and know him personally.
Merry Christmas fellow travelers, may you find the peace he longs to give you.
December 23, 2011
Reading this book took me a longer time than usual, the emotional pull that I felt while reading about those first few months of Penny's life, the frustrations, the anger and ultimately the hiding were areas that I too waded through, with tears I shared her ups and downs, remembering not too long ago I was sitting in the hospital, staring down at a little boy classified 'abnormal'. Hearing about Penny's life, hearing about how Penny has touched the life of those who love her has taught me about what I hold dear, it has put a spot light on my own idols surrounding motherhood, and it has held me to account. As we read about Amy Julia's struggle to break the idols in her own life it's nearly impossible not the see the idols in our own.
What do we expect of our children? What is perfect? What is normal? What does it look like to love without condition? These are some of the questions that are answered in this book, but it's only a small part. As you journey through the first two years of Penny's life you are also wading through the swamps with Amy Julia and her struggle with faith, doubt and understanding. Her honesty about her faith journey allowed me to see openly into mine, she asked questions I have at times asked myself, and she has humbled me with her acceptance of the answers so quickly when it's taken me so much longer in so many ways.
It doesn't matter who you, who is in your life, if you have a child or not, this is a book that I would recommend for anyone to read, it will lead you on a journey of self discovery, and in the end you may just find that an idol has been smashed, or at the very least cracked.
'Everyday it becomes more and more clear that Penny is not a 'Down's kid'. Penny is a child with wonderful and fascinating aspects to her personality. Penny is a child who knows and loves her family, who has a big vocabulary and loves books, who blows kisses to anyone who says hello, who is learning to climb stairs, and, oh, yes, Penny is also a child who has Down syndrome" Amy Julia Becker
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".
December 19, 2011
I listened to people say 'I'm sorry' and in my heart I grew angry, because I wanted people to celebrate his birth, celebrate his life. I selfishly only centered on my own pain, my own hurt and worry and I was angry because I wanted more from the people around me. I wanted, needed, to feel what every new mother feels when they hold their baby for the first time. Instead I sat for hours in my room alone every night, my son in the hospital across the street fighting for his life. As the days and weeks progressed I found ways to suppress my frustrations, my emotions and my anger, and I learned how to love my son the best way that I knew how in that moment. The first time I held my baby (two weeks after his birth) I cried because it was that moment that I knew I would never be the same, I was forever changed. He was something I had been missing without even knowing it, he was a part of the love that Tim and I share and now that he was here our lives would never be the same again. Even if we lost him, even if we knew him for only days.
I talk a lot about Josh in this Blog, it's both a testament to the love that I have for him and the hope that I have for him, and it's also a way to work through the struggles I have faced, the feelings I have found myself sorting through in regards to his life and his illness. I have for a long time held onto some of the anger and frustrations surrounding his birth, and it's time to let it go. It wasn't what I would have wanted, it wasn't ideal, it wasn't what I felt I deserved, and yet as I look at this little one who we now know so well I have to seriously ask myself... what did I deserve? What does that mean? As I sit here contemplating advent I find myself needing to apologize for my selfish refusal to see others pain, to see that Josh's illness grieved others as well. He is my son yes, but he's loved by many. He is not mine, he is God's and he was born into a community which means he is loved by them, which means that they too grieve him. They each dealt with that grief differently, and sometimes that seemed hurtful to me, but ultimately this is not about me is it? This is about Josh, and my anger, though repressed is uncalled for, and it's time to let go and allow the Spirit to free me of it's hold. It's time to ask for forgiveness, and it's time for me to forgive.
Josh has taught me about love, he has taught me about hope, prayers, faith, and he has taught me about joy. He has given me courage and taught me strength, and as I look at his precious face this advent season I have to admit that he is so much more than I ever 'deserved', he was an answered prayer before he was even born. He's not something I should feel regret over what didn't happen at his birth, he's not something I should be angry about. He is a beautiful, happy little boy who has taught a lot of people about appreciating life. His life has answered prayers I asked years before I knew Tim, let alone Joshua.
I prayed once for God to bring me closer to him, for God to reveal his love for me. His answer was to give me the gift of Joshua. Joshua's life, and yes even his suffering has taught me about the unconditional love of God, and his life has brought me so much closer to God. My prayers for miracles, for healing, are being answered not in a direct way, not the way I had wanted, but with each step towards healing that Joshua makes I am realizing that sometimes God says' wait, but always he answers. Is it possible that in all my thoughts of what I thought I wanted were wrong?
I think of Mary, when she was expecting and anticipating the birth of Christ and I wonder what she thought, I wonder how she felt. The birth of Jesus was not I am sure what she had thought it would be. I am sure she imagined she would marry Joseph, love him the way a wife does, and give him a son born in wedlock, celebrated and loved. Did she expect him to be born in a stable, with her fiance at her side, having never shown his her physical love? Did she lament her situation? No, she bore him with joy, with hope and expectation and faith. As we move through the advent, as we prepare our hearts for Christ I am awed that God saw me fit to mother children as special as Joshua and Kaleb. That he saw me as suitable to parent them and that he has given me the strength I needed, the courage I needed and the faith I needed to love these extraordinary children.
As I continue to move through the process of loving these kids, and dealing with the past and the feelings I have left hidden I am sure of one thing now more than ever. I would not change a thing. I would not make Joshua or Kaleb any different, even with their separate struggles, I wouldn't change the journey we have been on, I would only change my response to the situation.
For those who have felt my anger, my frustrations, for those who have felt my unforgiving spirit I pray now that you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. I pray that you will know my heart longs for wholeness and will continue to seek it. I pray that you know that I forgive you, and that I seek your forgiveness.
December 18, 2011
December 17, 2011
Before she had even seen her second birthday Elizabeth was forced in a world of silence, a strange and mysterious world called Autism. A place that has so many unknowns for both the parents and the doctors but also the person who is afflicted with this disease. 'I am in here' takes you into the world of a family living with Autism, in a both clinical, easy to read but also hopeful and emotional way, Elizabeth's Mom describes the ups and downs, the hopes and the fears and the successes and failures of this disease. She also looks at the way that her faith has strengthened her, stretched her and allowed her to keep fighting on behalf of her daughter.
As a Mother I was moved, not only because of our struggles with our son's health problems, but also because I was reminded that I am not alone. There are so many families suffering, so many children who are suffering, and not one of us is alone. To hear Virginia talk about things that so closely echo my own feelings offers me comfort, hope, peace and ultimately a feeling of being understood.
'I have been praying for the children for so long and it seems like nothing happens' Virginia Breen
No, we are not alone. This book is one that you should read, if not for you or a family member or friend who faces struggles, then at the very least to understand Elizabeth, and ultimately others who are trapped in the world of Autism. To see that they are in fact 'In there' and that they want only to be heard, understood and loved just as we all do.
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".
So, is this something that the men and babysitters all gang up on mothers about? Is this just me? Is this some rare situation for my friend and I? Is this a giant lie, are the kids actually heinous nightmares before we arrive and we are just told how good they were?
Why is it neccesary to pick on your brother, stealing his favorite toy, until he cries, or jumping on him until he finally punches you in return and then come running to Mum for comfort... all during Mummy's first hot cup of coffee in the morning? Do they not yet have common sense? Is this the real problem? If this is indeed the main problem, then for those of you with older kids let me ask this... when does common sense kick in? At what magic age do children start to respect coffee time in the morning? When do they stop thumping each other and crying for Mummy's kisses to make it better?(not that I really mind the kisses part...). At what point do you become a Mum and not a slave who there to do their bidding? The demands of 'more_____' fill in blank with 'milk, juice, fishy's, cookies, yogurt, banana's...'
I talk a lot about the sweetness of these two boys, and they are, they are incredible gifts that I wouldn't trade for the world but there are moments, when they won't stop beating each other up, when they are driving each other (and me) crazy that I wonder if this is punishment of some kind? Why don't they do this for their Dad? Why don't they do this for their Grandparents? Why do they do this to the one person who does pretty much everything for them?
This is of course all said with some satire, I do realize that boys will be boys, and along wtih that comes a few fights and injuries, I just wish they would let me have ONE hot cup of coffee before they start in on each other, and maybe a coffee break later in the morning... and one before dinner... and one after dinner... :)
December 15, 2011
The other unexpected answer to prayer has come with Josh's communication. I see him every day, I hear all his words and I rarely see the great strides he is making. It often falls on other people who haven't seen him in awhile to mention 'he's doing really well' for me to see it. However, this week as we were driving to school and I sat listening to Josh in the back seat of the car I realized he's had an explosion of language in the last week. He's using feeling words, he's telling me about his day when I ask instead of just repeating back to me what I ask him. The other night he told me 'Josh eat popcorn' when I asked what he did at school, and sure enough when I asked his teacher the following day, he had indeed eaten popcorn. I was thrilled with this new development because finally I am hearing from him, I am able to communicate with him on a new level. He walks around the house spelling his name constantly, and counting everything he can (he can get to thirteen now without difficulty).
Suddenly I am seeing the fruits of so much labor and my heart is light, my shoulders less tight, my hope renewed. With Christmas so close I can't help but think that maybe God isn't giving me a Christmas present of the best kind; a chance to talk with my son.
December 13, 2011
|Josh - surrounded by angels|
My Aunt pointed out that in this shot, Josh is surrounded by angels, and I couldn't help but see it as so much more than a Christmas pageant but rather a metaphor for his life up to this point and beyond. He, we are surrounded by angels this Christmas and always.
December 10, 2011
Every once and awhile you see something, hear something or remember something that changes your life as you know it. It either touches some deep emotional longing, ignites a passion you didn't know you had or it brings a part of you back to life that maybe you hadn't realized was dozing for so long.
That has happened to me this week, a few moments, but it's woken up a part of me that has been sleeping, it's reminded me of days that were different, it's touched a part of my soul that has been longing and it's ignited a passion that I want back.
What happened? It started at the Baptism when my husband signed me with the cross, and called me Christ's own. That moment I heard a whisper that reminded me that I was indeed Christ's daughter, something that not so long ago was so clear to me, so alive inside of my heart, but on Sunday I realized it has been sleeping. That knowledge was deep deep in my subconscious mind and on Sunday it was woken, a seed of memory planted again. For a time in my life I refereed to myself as the Warrior Princess, a daughter of the King and warrior for Him. Now, at times I have lived more like an embatttled knight, tired, worn, beaten, and forgotten by the King while I have been away at battle. I was reminded on Sunday that I am the King's own, he won't, cannot forget me, I am His daughter, He is my Father.
The second moment this week happened on Wednesday, during our weekly Bible study. We were talking about the Holy Spirit, and Tim read a quote by J.I.Packer that went something like this...
"The Holy Spirit is the divine match maker who is so in love with Jesus that he wants you to fall in love with Him as well." (this is probably not an exact quote because I didn't write it down)This was followed up with something that a woman at our church (SK) told Tim that again is a paraphrase, she said 'The Spirit whispers sweet nothings in your ear'. I listened to this and I was reminded of a passion that I had not so long ago, a love so deep that I knew I would forever follow Him, a love so deep and real that I actually longed for Him, and would do anything he asked of me, regardless of where it would lead me.
That passion and love for Him lead me on a path to where you find me today, with all these blessings that I am surrounded by in life. Somehow, over the past few years I have spent so much time in battle, fighting, hoping, dreaming, wishing, praying for things to go my way, that I have forgotten that sometimes we are called to a different path that we planned, to travel a road we hadn't thought we would travel, and sometimes that path has thorns, sometimes it hurts. I have been so busy cutting a path for my boys and I, watching the path ahead for danger, keeping my eyes on the ground to make sure we keep our footing, that I have forgotten to look up and see the wonder of the roses at the top of those bushes, to see the love that has lead me to this beautiful place.
My heart has been reminded that it was love, divine love, that brought me here, that keeps me here, and has a destination in mind for us. I don't have a map, I don't know where we are going, but I have been reminded that I am following him with faith, and that He loves me and won't lead me astray as long as I keep my eyes on Him. My heart has been touched by the Spirit who loves Jesus so much that he wants me to love him just as much, that he is whispering sweet nothings in my ear and reminding me that he is not a King sitting on His thrown but rather, He is in battle with me, that each time this warrior princess lifts her sword it is with the King at her side giving her strength and energy to fight another day. I am Christ's own, a beloved princess of the King and I will not now or ever be forgotten.
December 7, 2011
|Photograph taken by Brian Skerry|
I left having learned something, but it's not what I expected, though I did learn a great deal about under water photography ( a subject that I would love to explore one day ). I have always been amazed at the things of the Ocean, I am not a fan of eating it, though I have tried to a few times in my life, but also, there is a small amount (okay, large) of fear of the unknown. I remember snorkeling with Tim on our honeymoon and I met up with a barracuda , a touch scary, but just as I was getting over that I dove down deep and shooting out of the muddy ground came a huge set of teeth, I choked on water as I raced to the surface and away from the teeth that I was sure were chasing me. I was barely able to tell Tim what I had seen but in the end it had been a Moray eel. So you see, when it comes to things of the ocean I am a wimp. However, there is also that part of me who is absolutely fascinated by the thought of so many things left to discover, and I love the larger animals, whales, sharks, dolphins. On the same trip where I met with the creepy side of the ocean I also went snorkeling with sharks and sting rays and though aware of my nerves there was also a very deep sense of God, of knowing that I am one tiny part of this HUGE world. There is a whole other universe down there and it's actually larger than ours up here, and yet we are bent on destroying it, as the photographer said last night, 'the Ocean is not a grocery store'.
At the end of the talk Brian took some questions, and one of them adressed the idea of eating seafood. His response, was to ask questions, made wise decisions. He himself will eat seafood, but he won't eat shrimp gathered up in nets that also kill numerous other creatures just for a few pounds of shrimp that will be devoured in minutes. He asked us to think ethically about our food. This is not the first call to ethical consumerism I have heard recently. A small group of friends and I have been talking about Coffee, Chocolate and this month will be clothing, we have been discussing the ethical approach or non approach to buying our food/clothes and how to ask the right questions to get the answers we need so that we aren't a part in a chain that is keeping a child in a factory, a man unable to earn enough to feed his family or a woman or girl who works from dawn to dusk for a couple of bucks to make you that favorite pair of jeans. We are beginning to ask questions of the companies, to learn more, to show interest and hopefully show them that we care about buying products that care about the ethical treatment of their workers.
Last nights talk reminded me that if I care about a child working in a factory, or a man chained hours a day to a farm that earns little if any money, then I would be a hypocrite to not care about the ethics involved in the fishing industry. If I care about the Jungle, or the animals in Africa, then I too must think about and care about the Ocean and the issues that she faces. The boys these days are all into the Lion King, and as I heard the talk last night I couldn't help but hear the song Circle of Life floating around my head. There is a delicate balance, take out a layer and it topples the remaining layers, and lets face it, there is more Ocean than Land so if that topples I think we would be in trouble.
Take a moment to listen to this guy speak, an look at those photos! WOW!
December 6, 2011
So, I have been a mother for going on four years now and I love it, I do. However, I would be lying to you if I said there were things I didn't miss, things I envy in childless couples. Weekends spent sleeping in (I used to be really good at that), trips together to warm places (I am cold, really cold right now), evenings spent with friends in the pub or eating yummy treats at cool new restaurants downtown, or even just drinking HOT coffee and reading an actual newspaper without Diego playing in the background. The freedom of not having a datebook, or phone beeping appointments at me but rather just flying by the seat of my pants and doing whatever I feel like doing... surly there is a middle ground?
For the first time in four years I see a light, the tunnel has been long but I see a light. My in-laws have moved to Toronto and last night for the first time in a long time I went out with my husband, and tonight we are going out again! WOW!
Now don't get me wrong, first off, we have no intention of taking advantage of these two wonderful people who gave up a lot to move here, simply to help us. We don't intend to drastically modify our lives, or become the latest couple to join the social scene in Toronto. We are happy to be home with our kids, I take great pleasure in snuggling them into their beds, and with kisses send them off to dream land. However, that there is now an option that for us is affordable is so exciting that I just had to Blog about it. (The price of babysitting these days is incredible and if you ask me prohibitive in most cases)
I should also mention that we have been greatly blessed by friends in the last four years, the amount of times my friends have stepped up and watched the kids so that I could take one or the other to a doctor's appointment, or came to look after them just so I could have a break. No, my life has not been spent at home for four years, and thanks to parents on both sides we have even had holidays in there. No, I have definitely not been home bound for four years, all thanks to friends and family, and I have appreciated every chance, every outing, every moment to breathe in air not filled with diaper fumes or vomit vapors, every minute of those times I have known deep in my heart that I was blessed.
No, the light I am talking about is that I know these two people are invested in my kids, and they are invested in Tim and I, which means that they really want to help (Not that my friends don't, just that I don't feel bad asking for that help). It means that I can see myself getting adult time out of the house a little more often, it means that I can see my breaks spreading beyond my two hour window while they are in the nursery on Sundays, it means that even if only once a month, I will have a date! WOW!
It's surprising really, because I didn't know what I was missing and I was happy with how things were (though certainly tired) but I feel a weight is gone. The constant worry of what I will do if one of the kids needs to go to the doctor, or if I get sick, the feeling of being alone when an emergency happens (as they have). Up until now, every single time I have needed help, God has placed friends in my path at the right moment to help. The day I had to rush Kaleb to the ER I happened to have a friend for coffee (something I don't often do in the morning), she was able to help me by watching Josh until Tim could get to us. The countless Tim's someone has come to help while Josh is in the hospital with various appointments and meetings. No, I do realize that I have been blessed. It's that which I am speaking of, it's the 'what if' worry that is gone now. I don't need to wonder, 'what happens if Josh gets sick while Tim is at work?' or 'What if Kaleb has an attack?' or 'how will I cope if I get sick?'... the worry is gone and for the first time in years I can feel my shoulders begin to loosen.
December 4, 2011
Today, I finally made the leap that I have wanted to make for years but have for various reasons never been able to arrange. I was finally baptized! It was a beautiful service with a small group of my family and a few friends and it was made extra special because it was lead by the Priest who married us and the actual baptism was preformed by my husband and the two people who have taught me from the start about God and his amazing love and grace, my parents, were my sponsors. All the more important was that both my sons were there, neither were sick. God worked a miracle for me today because as you know Josh was only a few days ago so sick that he was in the ER. I am blessed, and today of all days I felt God's presence and blessings literally poured out on me.
|The wonder boy makes his comeback!|
|Kaleb decides to taste the Holy water|
December 3, 2011
With friends who love me and my family I was not alone for the end of the night, they came and brought tea and company. One of them, a nurse, was there to speed up the process and talk with the doctor when I didn't understand something. The doctor, the same doctor who treated Kaleb when he had impetigo was wonderful, and finally when Josh was more full of fluids be began to stir and wake up. His little body still weak but he was talking. The doctor, believing it to be Norwalk Virus then released us after doping Josh up with anti-nauseate and loads of fluids. As he left he lifted his his head off my shoulder to say bye and thank you to the nurse. He is now drinking on his own and watching Lion King... the vomit so far has stopped.
For reasons I can't get into yet, Sunday is important to me, to have both boys healthy, Tim and I healthy, it's so important to me. Please, don't forget us in your prayers this weekend.
When my friend drove Josh and I home last night he saw the house and said 'home, happy' and this morning, though still with fever he told us again that he was happy, and to be sure we and he understood, we asked him if he was sad and he said 'no, happy'.
There is just nothing better than home sometimes I guess, and nothing better than seeing how far your child has come verbally, though it was a difficult and scary night, it had it's blessings too. I have amazing friends who care deeply, and I have a son who is improving daily with his delays. Now to get him healthy without spreading his germs to the family!