Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

March 27, 2012

Lament

Sometimes waiting with patience is like bashing your head against a wall... and sometimes hope gets lost in the mundane rituals of life. I have been watching Kaleb develop in giant leaps these days, it's been amazing and heart breaking at the same time because it won't be long before Kaleb is speaking more, understanding more than his big brother. Kaleb learns things naturally, things that I have had to spend hours teaching Josh, and at times I feel that he understands more than his brother already. Just yesterday I got a note from his teachers, they are noticing that they are needing to ask him a question two or three times before he understands what they are asking, and though he does eventually understand it has taken a number of tries. Yet I also see him making leaps, he told me just this morning 'I want watch more TV' a sentence I have been working on him for weeks to ask. This is where I both smile and bang my head at the same time. Will he ever speak without all the hours of work? What is causing this serious delay? How long until he can hold a conversation? I watch his gains with pride but deep in my heart there is a fear that he will never speak normally, he will never be able to really TALK. At what point will we see him move beyond this delay? Will he?

I have lamented about this before, it's not new. I have heard from many of you about the struggles you face with your own children and speech delays, and it comforts me, it frees me to know that Josh is not alone, that I am not alone, but deep down, in the darkest corner of my heart I feel fear, and sometimes at night, when the lights are out and the unknowns in the shadows come out to play, I lose hope and worry settles in.

When we have asked for and received so many miracles I feel ungrateful asking for more, and I feel petty worrying about something like Josh's speech, I feel boring writing about it yet again... I worry that God has bigger things on his plate than the voice of a little boy who has already been given so much. Yet I can't stop myself from begging God for yet one more thing, one more request. Healing for Josh... wholeness for Josh in all areas of his life, his heart, his delays, his voice. 

March 26, 2012

Who am I to judge?


I have spent the last week fighting though totally unsuccessfully a flu. It has left me weak, tired, with little patience and a recurring fever. I tell you this because I have neglected my Blog seriously and found that I don't have anything of import to say, and I have been to weak to think, every ounce of energy I have had has gone into my boys, getting them through a day with three meals, drinks, clean diaper for Kaleb and attempting to keep the peace between them has been my primary concern. When I haven't been doing that I have been praying for a quick recovery, and using the time to watch cheesy videos on YouTube or reading. I mention this because the cheesy video watching has led to this first bout of 'thinking' in a week. Yesterday I watched a video that moved me to tears, and warmed my heart but also made me seriously start thinking about how we view people around us. The video was from Britain's We've got talent, and as you can imagine it was a little bit like watching Paul Pott's all over again.

At the start of the video two people walk onto the stage, a large young man and a young woman, Simon saw them and turned to whisper in the ear of the judge beside him 'just when we thought it couldn't get worse'... He turns to the couple on stage and begins to ask questions about what brought them to the show, why they think they can win, did they really think they could win etc. All of these questions were asked with a condescending tone that Simon has become famous for. When he'd asked all his questions he rolled his eyes a little and said 'alright then, good luck' in a tone that clearly said they would need all the help they could get. With that the lights lowered and the music to 'The Prayer' began to fill the hall. You are watching on egg shells, and then the most amazing thing happens. The guy opens his mouth and you are floored because this man, this large, rather awkward looking kid who admits he is self conscious because of his size has the voice of a master. He sings like he's an angel, no kidding! An angel! Simon's mouth drops open and he smiles the grin of beautiful surprise and wonder, the crowd who had all looked bored while this young duo took the stage are now staring in rapt attention, moving forward in their seats and almost immediately clapping and cheering this wonder on, tears begin to form in the eyes of almost everyone there, people begin to stand, the judges are crying, and as the song closes Simon himself stands, his smile bigger than ever, and slams the table saying 'WOW, WOW, WOW' and a shocked 'Oh my God'. There is not one person left sitting in that room, most eyes are wet and everyone is touched by this stunning voice. It was amazing, a video that I admit also moved me to tears and warmed my heart.

My reason for writing about this video is simple. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this, for two reasons. One, it was a brilliant performance that moved me, and Two... because of how it started and how easily it could have turned out a different way. You see, that kid walked on stage and all that anyone saw was a large, awkward kid who lacked self confidence. Everyone there was expecting him to fail, no one cared a thing about him, not one person in that room believed he was 'worthy' of being on that stage that night. Simon made no efforts to hide his disgust, no attempt to pretend to have any hope for that young man. What would have happened if he was not able to sing like an angel? He would have been laughed off the stage, driven off in humiliation, even had his voice been nominally good, it would have not have been good enough. Yet, he could sing, he could do more than sing, he was born with a talent so raw that it left you no choice but to be moved. Instead of being 'booed' off the stage or ridiculed by Simon he was given a standing ovation, cheered, and adored by the crowd. This awkward self conscious young man standing before them was no longer that, but rather an adorable, lovable, and very talented young kid with bright prospects for his future.

I have been left thinking about how quick we are to judge people, to look at some one and decide if they are worthy or not based on what the outer package looks like. I had a wake up call yesterday in that department. I was getting coffee from the Tim Horton's near our church early yesterday morning and an older homeless man was sitting near the door. I felt both pity and revulsion at the way he smelled and how he dressed. He was bent over the table and I couldn't see his face but without meaning to I came to some immediate judgements about him as I passed by his table to make my order. It was when I was leaving that I saw what he was doing, it was as I was leaving that I was humbled. The man, was bent over the table reading scriptures, focused completely on his Bible, drinking it in. I stopped in my tracks and I felt shame fill my entire body. This man, any man, regardless of his dress, his size, his status in society, his housing situation, his wealth or lack there of, any man, woman or child, is a beloved child of God. Who am I to judge them? How am I any better than this man?

'And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40


This man, looking like he had just walked through hell, sitting in quiet reflection with his Lord, with my Lord, is my brother. My heart was made humble and my sin of judgement was shown clearly to me. Just as that crowd in the UK's eyes were opened that day that the young man took the stage to sing, I too was left wanting to rise in a standing ovation, I wanted to weep with emotion as I realized my error in ways. A few weeks ago we heard a sermon from Tim where he dared to say that we are no different from a serial killer in the eyes of God (I am summarizing). There were people who were shocked I am sure, but in my heart I have to say I know it's true. Sin is sin, we are all sinners in need of one God. He makes no distinctions between us, he loves us all. So who am I to pass judgement on someone?

As I finished watching the video of that young man who sang that day, I was touched by the joy that lit his face at the overwhelming response to his talent. There was no wiping the smile from his face and in my heart I believe that he will never be the same after that performance. He will walk taller, sing better, and move through his life with a greater knowledge of his purpose. It makes me wonder what would happen if we gave that kind of reaction to the people around us, to the guy sitting at the Timmie's table (regardless of what he's reading), to the teen mother who is struggling, to the child abused, to the woman betrayed, to the man with no job, to boy who's too tall, too skinny and too geeky? What if we embraced them, applauded them, looked at them with awe at the people they are, the creations they are, and the worth they hold rather than the mistakes they made, the pressures they have given in too, or the oddities that make them so wonderfully unique? What if they looked at me that way? Who would they become?  Who would I become? What if we saw in each other what God sees in us?

March 21, 2012

Heroes & Monsters

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

I had trouble with this particular review, the book, while filled with some great little gems of truth was also very confusing to follow. I enjoyed it, thought he was a great writer but can I honestly say I would refer anyone to read it? I don't know. This is the story of his life so to speak, a dark look at humanity, and very truthful in the way he deals with life and the struggles that it throws at us. There were loads of great lines, loads of 'jewels' that almost seem C.S. Lewis like. Yet I struggled to keep up, there were times that I wanted more and times that I was confused about where he was going. The book seemed to have little direction. Did he accomplish what he set out to do? I think so, but I also think that it's very much like reading this Blog from beginning post to end post... what is the end point? I don't know. What is the 'topic'? I am not sure. As a life story it was interesting, as a look at our inner thoughts and honest feelings about the crap life throws at us, he did indeed succeed. However his 'artsy' style of writing is not for everyone. I was left feeling, in the end that the book was good, but that I could not say it's for everyone. For example, I wouldn't recommend it to my Mom, but I have a few friends who would find value in it and understand his purpose.

I don't like this part of the reviewing process, because what I struggle with someone else might really appreciate. I am not saying it's not worth the read, as I said, there were many great truths and as you can see from the paperclips I managed to take a lot away from this book, it seemed that every other page had some powerful piece of information. One of my favorite lines was 'laughter is the evidence that we're still here, the proof that our tragedies will not define us forever. Laughter is the language of the survivor.' So you see, I got something from this book, I took away a lot of information that will slowly work it's way into the fabric of me, I will hear his words in the my dark moments and know the truth of them over and over again. This is not a 'bad review' it's simply a question mark about who I would share it with, who I would think could garner something from it. If you like artsy writing, if you want to hear some pretty awesome and powerful truths about life and what makes you who you are, and how God touches you in the midst of pain, suffering, and sometimes just unsteady times, if you have ever dared to dream and then been afraid to step out on the ledge to make that dream a reality, then you may very well enjoy this book.

If you do decided to check it out I would love your thoughts on it!! It would make an awesome book study for a book club!


Taken out in the final round



Cough, Sore throat, fever, chills, and every part of my body aches... not a great way to spend a beautiful day like today. My youngest, sick yet again with a cold, fever and whatever else is wrong with him. My oldest, bouncing off the walls. My husband, working. Ain't motherhood grand sometimes? :)

I was thinking the other day about kids, and how they seem to carry every bug known to man in their tiny bodies, and I was thinking about how grateful that this last bug (the really bad one everyone seems to be getting) somehow tore through my family and missed me. I was almost gloating. I thought I had super human genes, a kick ass immune system... then last night I noticed that everything was SORE, every part of me ached, and I was shivering, but not cold, could it be? Could this bug have found my kryptonite?  Sadly, this Superwoman is now down for the count, bound and determined to rebound quickly enough to cope with today... your prayers would sure be appreciated.

March 19, 2012

I don't have a clue!


How do you sum up a part of your story that has transformed you and left you a new person in 5 minutes or less? How do you share an intimate part of yourself with a group of strangers and tell them what something important means to you in 5 minutes or less? I have been thinking about this for days now, all week actually. I was asked to speak at Sick Kids to a group of people that have corporations involved in the Miracle Foundation and who will be making strategic plans about how their company plans to raise money. They want me to talk for five minutes about Josh's story. So short when I sit down to write what I have to say! I ask again, how on earth do I sum it up?

Last night I had a dream. I was sitting with a woman who was facing some terrible problem, (I don't know what it was) she was broken, crying, in terrible amounts of emotional pain. As I sat with her I began to tell her a story, the story was about Josh but the reality wasn't really reality. You see, in the dream I watched Josh being born, and I watched as the doctors took him away, only he wasn't alive in the dream. He hadn't survived. In the dream I  began to cry endlessly, tears formed a pool at our feet, and the woman and I held onto each other, comforting each other, clinging to each other.

When I woke up, my heart was not sad as I thought it should be. There was guilt there as I realized that I should feel terrible about this dream. However, as I started my day I began to see that the dream wasn't about Josh really, it was about his story. It was about how his story may, or could, help offer the smallest fraction of comfort to someone. Sharing his story, sharing his pain, sharing my own pain, has the power to offer someone comfort. That has always been my hope, it's always been what keeps pulling me back to this Blog. Yet, talking to a group of community leaders about his story, sharing the story with them, it's just not the same is it? Not that I don't feel it's important to help a worthy foundation, I do! Raising funds, and awareness is one of my new 'jobs' (though not what I had planned to do with life, it's where I have landed). However, I am at a real loss as to what I should say, how I should say it. Talk about writers block!


Insights here would be helpful... any tips anyone might have on how the heck to shorten Josh's story into five minutes of 'unemotional' facts with a few thank you's thrown in is not as easy as writing to the great abyss of the Blogging world.

This new journey I am on it both exciting and very very scary!

March 18, 2012

Opportunity knocks

Sometimes words aren't necessary and photo's can speak for you... this is one of those times.



To the victor goes the spoils...



March 11, 2012

They will be missed...

Today I leave my boys (and man) for four days to help my parents move... saying goodbye was tough. Kaleb is still quite sick (an ear infection this time) and he wasn't feeling too hot when I said goodbye. I find it funny that as a Mom, saying goodbye is so hard...

I know that as soon as they get to their grandparents they will play and have fun and I will be quickly forgotten... but I miss them already. Funny how guilt and motherhood go hand in hand... I never knew guilt until I met those boys, and now I feel it every time I say goodbye to them. Do they know that I will come back? Do they know I love them? What if something happens and I am not here? What if? What if? What if?

Ahh... motherhood. For all it's beautiful moments there are times when you long for a break, then you get a break and you long for the kids again. It's a circle that doesn't end. When they are newborn and you aren't sleeping you long for the day they are old enough to sleep through the night, then they get there and you miss the days when they were so tiny and you see a new baby and your heart yearns for the time to go back. Then they reach potty training age and you long for them to just learn to do it on their own, then they do, and one day you go upstairs with them and try to help and you are told 'go' and the door is shut in your face and you realize they grew up on you and you long for the days when they needed you.

Trying to live in the moment is so difficult, so hard, so trying sometimes. Today, as I said goodbye to the boys I actually felt worse than they did. Josh was happily walking along with Grandpa, Kaleb is the stroller with Grandma. No tears, no calling for Mummy... but as I watched them leave I ached.

So, all that to say that I love those little guys and I will miss them.


March 7, 2012

You can help


A very long time ago I moved to Hamilton Ontario. I was an angry teenager who didn't want to move. One of the first people I met was a girl named Mandy. Once I left high school I lost track of her, but thanks to Facebook we found each other again, and it turns out that God had found us both and brought us into his loving embrace.

Mandy had gotten married (11 years ago), she has three sons and lives now in the US with her new family. Her marriage is on the verge of collapse, her husband has all but given up that they can save their marriage. Instead of being angry with him she is campaigning to pray for her marriage, she is praying for the God of creation, the God who created marriage to step in and do what she can't. To save her marriage. She is asking for help, she is asking for intervention. She is asking for us to pray. It's so simple, but in a world of facebook, twitter and other social media it's a powerful way to help a friend or stranger.

You have all been so faithful when I have asked for prayer, you have all prayed for Joshua without even knowing him. Now I am asking  you to pray for another stranger, I am asking you to pray for Mandy & Chris, intervene on their behalf before the our maker, ask for a miracle for this family. Ask God to soften Chris's heart, to give him HOPE, to remind him what he's giving up.

I know I can count on all of you; you are a community unto yourselves and I know that you care about the breakdown of families. Pray that Mandy can remain strong for her boys (Zachery, Aaron and Lucas) and pray that together they can begin to work on the real issues in their marriage. Hope is not lost, they need us.

Thank you!

L

March 5, 2012

Blessings

Blessings - Laura Story from onamustardseedpath on GodTube.

I heard this song for the first time today, though I have learned that it's been around for a while. Funny how things come when we need them most. When I heard it, I knew I needed to create a video of it.

March 3, 2012

False God

The mistake we often make as parents, friends, children, sisters/brothers, husbands or wives, is that we can control the outcome of the situations we find ourselves in. We live in the false belief that some past sin or wrong doing has led us to the suffering we are in, or that we are being 'taught' a lesson. We live in the suffering, working constantly trying to change our circumstances. We find ourselves tired, stressed or just plain burnt out because the reality is, we are not in control, we don't have the resources, we don't have the strength, we don't have the fore knowledge necessary to see the big picture.

In my head I know this, in my head I know that my theology around suffering has been on a long road to change, and that there is no rhyme or reason to the things that happen along life's path. Consequences happen, yes. We sin, and there is a consequence. That's not the kind of suffering that I am referring too. I am talking about the things that happen that have NOTHING to do with us. The spouse who loses their life partner to terminal cancer, the child who's parent dies, the friend who walks another friend through troubling times, or the child born with a broken heart. The kind of suffering that we need answers for. The kind of suffering that just seems cruel, the kind of suffering that leaves people asking 'who is this God who is supposed to love us?'.

In churches today we often hear of only one side of God, the good, the kind, the loving God that makes him easier to digest. What we forget, what we rarely hear anymore is the whole story. The story of the God who hates sin, the God who says we are all born dead, the God who is jealous and wrathful. Not that suffering comes from wrath, that's not what I am saying. I guess I am just saying that if we are to believe in the one side of God, and not the other, then we are actually worshiping a false God.

Too many times I have seen churches preach about the love of God, the squishy feelings God has for us, the 'Father' who would do anything for his children, and then trouble hits and people are left thinking that they have done something wrong, sinned in some grievous way that caused God to hate them. They can't reconcile the God too often taught to us and the God who would allow suffering to enter our lives.

However, if we see the whole picture of who God really is, we see a God who does indeed hate suffering, who cries at the pain he sees in our lives, but also a God who knows that this will bring him Glory, this will grow us stronger, this will allow us to be drawn closer to his embrace, this will build our relationship with him.

We serve a plastic God, a false God if we believe any less, we hear of one in our churches if they don't tell the whole story. Serving Christ, following God is nothing  more than living in relationship with him, following God and living for him is not about what happens on this earth, but what happens in eternity, who we will see there, who we won't.

Suffering, in all it's crappiness is not something we are dealt, but rather it's the result of the world we live in, the result of the sin we are born into. Why do some people get miraculous healings, and other don't? Why do some people never seem to know a day of real suffering and others live a life that knows no end of suffering? In many ways only God can know the truth to that question. How we tackle the suffering is what I think is more important. (I could be wrong... this is still a path I am on, and I am by no means at the end of the road yet).

What I know is this. When Josh was born and we began to live with this ache deep inside, we also grew closer to God, we struggled with all of these questions, we looked for the sins of our past that could have been the root cause of this unending suffering, we did our best to 'learn' the lesson that we felt God must be teaching us so that we could see Josh whole. These last four years have taught me much. No sin we committed caused Josh's heart to be born broken, no lesson was needing to be learned. It simply just was. I have learned that even in the midst of the pain we have see so many amazing things happen, not just in Josh's life, but in the lives of others who are suffering. I have learned that God is the victor and he can bring good out of all pain. His good. Not always ours.

My heart grieves for the suffering in the world, I hear it, I see it, I feel it and I know that He does too, because the reality is that he does LOVE us, he does CARE what happens, he does CRY when he sees us hurt, but he also knows (ALWAYS) the big picture, he can see the circumstance we are in through a different lens.

I didn't mean to start preaching (that's Tim's job... ) this is just me thinking through some things from the week.

March 1, 2012

Lost in translation


For the past month you have heard me talk about Josh's heart, his incredible miraculous but very broken heart. Today, I want to veer off that for a moment and talk about the next biggest issue. Josh is four years old, and he still is only speaking by combining two words. Now, this is a HUGE improvement from September when he was barely using one word, but it's still a serious delay. All along this journey to hear my son's voice, I have believed that he only had a speech delay in the expressive language area, not the receptive area. I believed that he had full comprehension, full receptive language skills.

Today we had a speech assessment. I was infinitely discouraged to hear that he is only understanding language at a 2.5 year level.  This according to the pathologist explains why he is only speaking with two words. I couldn't believe it. Really? This kid who know's his alphabet, who can recognize all the letters, and put them in order if mixed up, who can spell all of our names, all of his friends' names, who can count to 29 front to back and can quantify those numbers? How is it that he doesn't understand past a not yet three year old child?

I spoke with his teachers, who assured me that while he is delayed he is able to understand in simple terms, and that he get's used to and understands those he is with all the time (them, us, our parents) but if we try to give him a big long sentence and ask him to do something, it get's lost in translation somehow.

ARGH! I can't tell you how frustrated this makes me. I went in today expecting to hear how marvelous he has been doing, how much he has accomplished in the time since his last therapy session; and he has!! When he started school he barely spoke, and if he did it was only one word at a time, and often very quietly. Now, he uses two words for the most part, and has been known to say three, four and sometimes five words to get his point across to us. He doesn't use proper grammar, he struggles, we often have to give him the sentence and have him repeat it, but comparatively?! He's done an outstanding job of learning to speak and communicate!

So, to hear that he's still so far behind, even though I understand it doesn't happen over night... well, it leaves me discouraged. That's where I am at today. Totally discouraged and asking why... The answers that I want cannot be given to me, no one can tell me medically what is wrong, or if he will ever catch up. I see improvements yes, but I also just miss the stage of innocence he's in, and hearing his thoughts. What's going on in his mind? How does he think? What does he think? What does he feel? I yearn for him to communicate with me the same way I yearned to hold him after he was born. It's an ache, a physical ache that keeps me up at nights.

Pray for us, pray for him, and pray that we find the answers or key to help him learn, to understand, to communicate.