Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Another Blog tradition, or just a tradition in general I guess is to look back at the year on New Years eve and count my blessings. This year I am so happy to announce that we have had no major traumas!! WOW!! That in itself is worthy of a Post or two!! Let me recap for a second...

2005 - I moved from Europe to Canada after some major life changes
           - Tim had some major life changes of his own to deal with
2006 - Tim and I met and became engaged!
2007 - We got married and discovered we were having our first child
           - This was also the year we found out about Joshua's diagnosis
2008 - We welcomed Joshua into our world!
           - Josh had his first open heart surgery, three catheterizations and a stroke
           - We made the trek as a family to Europe
2009 - we learned that we would welcome a new baby into our family
           - Kaleb was born after a problem filled pregnancy totally healthy!
2010 - We bought of first home, renovated from top to bottom and moved in two
              weeks later!
           - Joshua went into heart failure and had his second open heart surgery
2011 - Joshua rejected his new pulmonary valve and was again take to the OR for his
             third open heart
             -Kaleb was diagnosed with asthma & anephylactic allergies to nuts (found that
              one out post PB&J sandwich)
2012 - With only one scare with Kaleb, and one with Joshua we got through the year
             with NOTHING more than the average struggles, and setbacks. We even made
             it to Disney and Sanibel Island which the boys are still talking about!





2012 has been a year full or insurmountable blessings, answered prayers and dreams fulfilled. Tim was offered and accepted the position as Senior Pastor for Little Trinity which we eagerly anticipate in March 2013. We have watched our kids grow, develop and mature into two really cute and fun kids who simultaneously  entertain us and drive us around the bend. More important that any of that is that we have seen God work his healing hand through both our boys. Josh's new meds for his heart seem to be holding off heart failure, buying him precious time and his language, though slow, is making strides. Kaleb is now seeing a new doctor and his asthma has been more under control in the last few months than ever before. His new medications are a miracle for him and we are so thankful that we got the doctor that we did.

When I look back on 2012 it's not the struggles that stand out, not the times of worry or anxiety or stress. What stands out are the moments of joy, the laughter, the sweet things the boys have said or done, the times I have been able to enjoy with Tim growing in relationship, or just the moments when the house was quiet.

My wish for you for 2013, is that this time next year when you are staring 2014 in the face you will look back on 2013 and the stuff that stands out are the moments of joy and laughter, peace and contentment. My wish for you as you begin a new year is that you look forward not back, and when the struggles and pain come you find a way to look up and see how the hand of God is moving even in the storms.

Happy New Year!!

L
      

December 30, 2012

Happy now?


During lunch today the boys were being particularly cute, rare as usually they are picking at the food and arguing with me about how much they should or shouldn't eat. Today however we had pizza and so it went down without a hitch. Once the food was finished they got down and were headed down to play, Kaleb was the last to finish so with Josh already downstairs it was just Kaleb and I. He asked me if he could get down, and then hopped off his chair and headed down stairs, before he reached the top of the stairs I asked him for a kiss so he turned and raced back and planted a big wet one on my face, then promptly turned and headed back to the stairs, so I asked him for a hug too. This was met with a loud 'No' as he rounded the corner. As a joke I said 'Oh, Mummy is sad' and before I knew it he had come back around the corner and was throwing his arms open for a giant hug. Once given he again turned and raced around the corner to the top of the stairs but before he could descend he stopped and popped his head around the corner and said 'you happy now?'... (not in a sarcastic way but in a way that said he really cared that I was happy). I told him that I was very happy and he smiled and then stopped, again just to make sure and said 'you not sad anymore?'. When I told him that I was the happiest Mummy ever he smiled and ran down the stairs to join his brother in a game of pirates.

Sometimes I forget that being a Mum is the most rewarding job in the world, I take it for granted and often feel taken for granted. Most days are filled with demands, fights, he said vs. he said, messes to clean, diapers to change, food to make (and coax into them) and well... you get the idea. Most days when they go to bed I feel like I have fought a battle and am wearing the battle scars for all the world to see. I sit down on the couch at the end of the day and feel like I have merely 'survived' rather than enjoyed the latest day of mummyhood and I forget that it only takes a moment for them to remind me that I am the lady of their hearts right now.

Today, after lunch when I was sitting in the warm glow that is my son's desire to see me happy and loved I was reminded that it's the hardest things in life that are the most rewarding. I sat, had a coffee and acknowledged all the moments I take for granted and tried humility on for size.

December 27, 2012

Guys... guys...

The prefix 'guys, guys' has been added to a lot of new things that I say in this house lately... there is 'guys, guys.... wait' or 'guys, guys... stop' or of course 'guys, guys... be nice to each other'. There are many more, in fact, think of anything you might want to say to a kid and add 'guys, guys...' to the beginning of the sentence and you will be hearing what goes on in my home on a daily basis. I am not sure where the prefix came from, when it started or why I can't seem to stop but you get the idea. It's not the only prefix, there is always 'BOYS... (insert next words here). What is important here is not where it came from but what it means when I tell you this next little story.

Tonight Tim and I took the boys out for supper, we have been away for a few days of celebrating Christmas with my family and when we got home we were too tired to make supper so off to Swiss Chalet we went. As we were sitting there, Josh colouring his picture and Tim and Kaleb arguing over some silly thing Josh put up his hands and with an exasperated tone said 'guys, guys... stop!' Then when Tim and Kaleb stopped for a second out of shock he went back to his colouring and with a big sigh he said 'it's been a long day'. I have to admit that I nearly spit my coffee all over Tim because I was laughing so hard. He sounded so much like me that I had no choice but to giggle and I won't lie there was a part of me that wanted to jump up and down with joy because Josh is finally starting to use his words to communicate his feelings, share his thoughts, tell us what he's doing etc.

This past month Tim and I have been watching Josh and both of us have noticed huge gains in Josh\'s development. It\'s been incredible really, his sentences are clearer, his thoughts more easily understood and articulated. I don\'t know if we are doing something different or if Josh is just finally starting to heal. I don\'t necessarily care either. All I care about is that this week he was understood by people who don\'t really know him, he had conversations with people outside of his normal circle and he understood and he was understood. What a beautiful thing that is! It seems that God likes to give wonderful Christmas gifts to us, one year is was a happy smiling face just a few days post op, this year it\'s the dawning of a language for our son. We are so blessed.

So you see now why the 'guys, guys...' isn't so much about the sentence as it is about the meaning behind who said it that counts. I can't wait to see how the weeks and month progress!

I hope you all had a happy Christmas!

December 24, 2012

Merry Chrismas!



It has become a tradition of sorts on this Blog that on Christmas Eve when Tim is at work and the boys are sleeping I sit down and contemplate the meaning of Christmas. This year is no different.

A few week ago I heard someone say that while Christmas for us is full of joy, peace and love because of the birth of Christ, for him, it was the beginning of a humble human experience that would end in a torturous death. I have been thinking about that a lot. His birth, our salvation, came at a price for the God we love and serve. Yet, we have made this important day about Christmas trees, carols, gifts, mad shopping, baking and where we should be at peace more often than not it's a season filled with stress, and pain for too many of us. Instead of celebrating that amazing gift of love from God, a gift that allowed God to send his son to dwell among us we rarely take the time to think about those things.

My boys, sleeping now, are excited for Christmas, they are anticipating all the gifts like only children can, I am by no means denigrating the wonder of our traditions. I love that there is one day a year that holds the wonderful magic of Christmas, a day in the year that adults seek out the perfect gift for the little hands to unwrap, just for that moment when we can see their eyes pop open in awe and joy. I am a believer in traditions, I love Christmas and I love all the trappings of Christmas, and because I also have gifts as my love language I am like a kid myself on Christmas morning.

Having been so far from home for so many years, spending Christmas with friends but not family, and not with my traditions, I know how important they are and I missed them.  However, during those years in Austria, I learned that it's not about the mad rush to get stuff, to cook enough food, to get the right present. While there, I began to learn about the beauty of watching the Christmas walk through the grounds that ended at the stable, to hear the Christmas story repeated year after year. Now, though I am not able to physically go for those precious walks, I am instead blessed to have Christmas eve alone each year, and to look back 2000 years to the greatest love story of all time. Then, to look back through the last (I won't say how many years) to all the little love stories he's given me.

What a God we serve... one who would dare to humble himself to be born in an old wooden food trough knowing he would die on an old wooden cross.

My Christmas prayer for you is that as you celebrate these wonderful holidays and all the fun traditions, that you also take time to think about what the birth of Jesus meant for you. I pray you find peace if you are struggling this Christmas, if you are alone I pray he comforts you, and you have family around I pray that you put aside the arguments to remember that out there in the world this can be a season of great pain for others and say a prayer for them. I do believe in Christmas miracles, I believe God still gives Christmas gifts and blessings better than we could ever imagine!

Just yesterday Josh sang his first song... Twinkle Twinkle little star... if that's not a miracle then what is?

Merry Christmas friends, may the love of God fill you with joy, peace and love this holiday season.

L

December 11, 2012

New therapist


Last week I had the pleasure (and I do mean pleasure) of meeting our  new language therapist for the first time. I picked up Josh from school and we had a lunch date, then we headed to our new therapists office for our first appointment. I don't know what I was expecting really, more bad news, more hopeless theories on why Josh is the way he is and how he won't get better, or how this will always be an issue for him... I went into the office feeling like I needed to put on some boxing gloves and flex my shoulders a little. What happened in that office was not what I had expected. When she came out she sat down on the floor of the waiting room and began to play with Josh, not really talking to me though she did introduce herself to me, but rather all of her focus was on Josh. Josh, who is used to playing in the background while I talk to each therapist and give them a run down of his history, was surprised and pleased to be getting the attention and before I knew it he was chatting up a storm wit her. A normally very shy child with strangers, he doesn't talk to anyone he doesn't know well. Instead, by the end of the appointment she had four (count them - four) pages of notes of things that Josh had said. Everything Josh said, she wrote down word for word and because of this she was able to look back and see exactly what he is saying. The problem? He has a processing disorder, imagine information going into the ear, and the getting put through a food processor and being scattered about the brain. Then imagine a file system (yours and mine being very organized and orderly - animals in one file, food in another etc.) Josh's files are all out of order and disorganized. The plan? Reorganize the files and find a way around the food processor. My question of course is how?

During the session she did all kinds of games with Josh, and when she wanted him to say something she would say the sentence using different intonation in her voice, and to my amazement he would repeat her word for word, clearly, almost perfectly. Why? Well, it would seem that by using different intonation you can create new pathways in the brain, bypassing the damaged areas and making new paths for him. This astounds me. I have always heard of a 'plastic brain' but the longer I have watched Josh struggle the less I fully believed in it.

This therapy, (or as I call it... this God send) is going to take time. I will also need to learn how to use this form of therapy at home, and building these new paths will take time. However, the hour and half she had him on Thursday proved more useful, more powerful, more sucessful than I have ever seen in any of this therapies thus far! What will the outcome be? We don't know. It will take time and money and she can't promise a full recovery but is there hope? YES! She believes there really is hope, and though she says he may always have some problems communicating she joked that he's a male and will probably have that problem anyway :).

In other news... the MRI results are in and show that Josh has had no new strokes but he does have 'swollen mastoid cells' which may account for his balance and co-ordination issues that our Physio therapist was concerned about. As you can imagine this is a huge relief to us and we are so thankful to God for the positive results and for our new therapist! God is good... all the time.

December 5, 2012

A mighty hand

A mighty hand reaches out
touches the fear in my heart
a mighty hand touches my cheek
and wipes the tear that rests there.
A powerful arm pulls me closer,
it draws me up to his side,
embracing the hurting heart
and changing me, slowly.

A mighty hand holds my burdens
that I cannot bear the weight of
He lifts me up and carries me
when I have no strength to move.
A mighty fortress rises above me
offering a soft bed for rest.
A mighty arm pushing me forward
ever moving through this test.

A mighty hand encompasses mine,
one so large, mine so small.
A mighty pull towards freedom,
a mighty move towards peace.
A mighty hand opens and gifts rests there
peace, joy, hope. 
I move, grab that mighty hand and the gifts are mine.




December 3, 2012

Change





For some time now we as a family have been facing change, looking to the future to try and discover God's next move, if there was a move, where in the Kingdom he wants us, what plans he has for us. It has been a very long and sometimes difficult discernment process.

Yesterday it was announced that Tim (my hubby) will be leaving our St. Paul's community to take on the position of Rector (Senior Pastor) at Little Trinity in downtown Toronto. This is an exciting time in the life of our family but also I feel in the lives of the people we love so much at St. Paul's. The timing it seems is completely in God's hands and I am so excited to see what he has in store for the people of St. Paul's.

When Tim and I were dating he told me once that he had a real heart for the church of Little T, so it does not surprise me that God has called him up as their new leader. I am excited for Tim, for Little T and for the Kingdom as I see God making moves for change and growth.

This time of change is both exciting as well as a time for grieving. The St. Paul's community was my first church home in Toronto, my first real community after living in Austria, we were married there and started our family there. The people of St. Paul's have walked us through some difficult times, seen us through some of the toughest years of our lives and saying goodbye is difficult on many levels. My consolation is that we are remaining in Toronto and these people we love so much will remain a part of our lives.

As I have watched the St. Paul's community grow in numbers over the last 6 years I have been amazed at God's hand in their lives, but more than numbers I have been touched by the depth and growth in the lives of these wonderful people. I have no doubts that God is alive and working in this church family. They are so full of love for God's Kingdom and because I know this, I know that the changes they are about to undergo will bring them even deeper, even stronger in their faith and that the end result will be a more faithful, even more  beautiful work in the bigger picture. Saying goodbye to two of their leaders (Tim and Jenny) will be challenging but I also know that they are under the powerful and wonderful leadership of Barry Parker, a man who can lead them powerfully into their future, into God's plan for them. I have complete faith that God has a plan for them and I am excited for them.

Change is never easy, it's hard and it's at the times of change in our lives that we have to lean solely on God to see us through. We (Tim and I) will face challenges, as will all the people of both St. Paul's and Little T, but in the end it is God who is our leader. It is God who is our High Priest and with his as our ultimate hope we cannot lose. He will guide us all, He will see us through, and when it's all said and done His Kingdom will flourish if we choose to trust Him as we march forward into this new future awaiting us.

May we all find peace and hope. May the days and months ahead lead to fuller understanding of His mighty plans for us, may we all dare to find the strength he offers as we face these changes together, as brothers and sisters working for His glory.

L