Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

May 25, 2014

The finish line

This weekend has truly been a walk through the past 6 years. As I faced the 10KM walk ahead of me on Sunday morning I started on Friday mental preparing. After two years of deciding and waiting to reach my weight loss goal, I finally went on Friday and got a tattoo that reflects  my journey this past six years. A well thought out design that bares witness to the life changes we have made as a family and how it has led me ever closer to understanding the cross. As I sat in the chair, feeling the pinch of the needle I allowed my self to go back to the beggining of this journey we began many years ago with Joshua. I thought about his birth, his subsequent health issues, surgeries, caheterizations and all the stuff in between. To say it's been a journey is false in some ways... it's been more of a roller coaster ride... that looked very much like a ECG reading. Ups and Downs... I thought of those ups and down as the artist worked on me, in many ways the act itself was cathartic.

 This morning, as I prepared for the walk I prepped my ipod full of music that has been the soundtrack to my life through out this chapter in our life. I started the walk with the doom and gloom of first learning his diagnonsis and I ended on the triumphant 'this is where the healing begins' that lead me through the last surgery. walking, up and down the trails (twice, since it was only designed to be a five KM walk) was so reminiscent of the daily walk we make each day. Some hills are harder, some of the flat ground were easy, and the final push through the last quarter (which I decided to run) was like last summer, painful on my knees, hard, and yet, as I saw the finish line coming closer into my line of vision I was overwhelmed, to the point of true emotion. Not because I had almost finished the walk, but because it symbolizes so much more to me.

Ever day of our lives, whether we realize it or not, is a race to a finish line. Ready or not, when we get there we are done. When we pass through that gate that signals we are done, we move into a period of eternal rest, with no pain, no suffering, no tears, no sadness... no broken hearts.

It struck me, walking and running through the 10 K, thankfully on my own, that as his Mum it is just so fitting that I am the one to do this. I am walking, not do any great destination, but with each step I get closer to achieving a goal. I am his mother, I walk alone in many areas of this life we have. Tim is beside me to listen, he helps make the tough calls, but the daily grind of appointments and anxiety and tears lay on my shoulders (a burden I chose, one I would not give up for anything. I find it an honor to hold Josh's hand through the yucky parts of CHD. When he gets tired, I can life him up and carry him, and when I get tired, God lifts me up and carries him.

Too many times I have heard from heart families only the diagnosis of their kid... I want Josh's legacy, our families legacy, to be not what CHD did to us, but we did for CHD. When I die I want to go knowing that I did everything I could to further the cause, I want to die knowing that Josh will be left with a medical system that is fully ready to take on the task of keeping him healthy. I want to know that though my role is small in many ways, that I have taught people something, shared our story in a positive and helpful way. Highlighting the great and amazing things that have come from Josh having this amazing and incredible heart. He may not be perfect, but he is mine. He may have a diagnosis... but he's more than that.

More than anything. I want to share that God has brought us from the pain and fear and anxiety, into the shadow of the cross... that we are always heading towards. No pain, no suffering, no fear, can not be met with love and answers from a God who loves us enough to provide the cross.

When we sit in the gutter and mud, we have a decision to make. We can sit there, and stare at the dirt on our knees and hands and face, we can think about horror of  the spot we are in... or we can choose to look up, we can choose to reach up and grab the hand outstretched, offering help to stand, the help to move on. I choose to look up. Walking today... even the running, was in one direction... The finish line. My finish line is (hopefully) a long way off, and I have a lot of up hill, hard won, victories ahead of me, but when I get tired I know that there is another side of the hill... and it goes downhill with easier terrain.

We were offered no promises of a joyous journey. Life sucks sometimes and it's HARD. We were however, promised that one day all the hard bits would end, the sorrow would leave, the tears would only be tears of joy. Pain would end, bodies restored, FOREVER. I hold to that promise, and wait with expectation. BUT, in the mean time, I will walk and run the race set before me, and do the hard stuff that motherhood demands.

It was beautiful day. Hard, and beautiful!

May 15, 2014

looking back

The Glasshaus (written in the German/English dialect typically found at the Schloss Mittersill. We had names for everything, like a language all it’s own. The glasshaus was one of those places of solace where the world stops while you are in there.  I have often wondered about the ghosts of memories that must haunt those walls. Truly, if every the phrase ‘if these walls could talk’ this would be the place to go and listen. You would learn A LOT about life at the castle. The people, the secrets, the dreams and the millions of frustrations that lay in between the two. This simple room was like none other I have ever entered. You walked in and nothing else ‘out there’ existed.
I spent many mornings in there, watching the sunrise on the valley, sipping hot coffee and prepping myself for a full day, and I often ended my day getting into all kinds of trouble and mischief. Some of our best pranks and plans began around a table in the glass haus and some of my fondest memories of times gone by were with friends within those four walls. That is life in a community of foreigners living in a world that sometimes doesn’t feel like it really exists.
The castle sits on a hill, in a small valley in the Austrian alps. When the mist lies in the valley you can truly begin to believe that you live in the clouds. It’s mystical and beautiful, happy and wonderful and sometimes it’s lonely. That was the way of things when living in castle on a hill. The saying ‘Das laben ist hart in den bergen’ was one that floated through every nook and cranny of that building. The English translation is ‘life is hard in the mountains’. We used this line as both a joke and a sigh because it was true and yet it was a gift and we all knew it.  Community was the centre of who we were, it created intimacy and it was founded on trust and belonging. It didn’t matter where in life you came from, or where you were going. When you entered the gate (as a guest , student, volunteer or staff) you became a member of a very special family; a family that exists to this day. I know that if I land in a city anywhere in the world I will most likely know someone there and that if I ever needed a pillow for a night all I would have to do is say the word and the door would be opened. 
I first discovered the castle as a 19 year old rebellious girl, desperate to break out on my own and ‘find myself’. I hadn’t expected to grow so attached, or to be loved so freely there. What I found was not just a job for a year, but a home, a family, and what I later described as a hospital for the soul. Years later I returned broken and bruised and in need of a new life and with one email I was warmly welcomed home. I spent three years there that time, three years of growing, learning, laughing and often crying. Three years of discovering who I am, who God is, and who God wants me to be. I found healing there, I found hope there, I discovered joy there and when I left, leaving part of my heart behind I left a new person; a new woman with a new purpose in life and new energy to take on the world. It was a rare gift indeed, one that I took for granted during my years there but one that I have thanked God for every day since.
I was looking through old photos the other day and as often happens I was reminded so clearly of where I have been, and where I am today and as I thought about it I wanted to take the time to remember with my words what community is, what it should look like in the context of the church and what being a member of a church family really should look like. It loves without judging, it’s praying for each other, it’s sharing ourselves with others, it’s holding each other to account, it’s laughing together, playing together, and sometimes it is crying with each other. It is celebrating life’s victories and mourning and grieving together. It is about helping each other grow deeper in our spiritual lives and knowing, more than anything, that regardless of where we have been or where we are going, that we are not alone. We are family. Once known that deeply, there is no goodbyes, only ‘see you later’s’.

May 11, 2014

A mamma's prayer

This is for the two boys who have taught me the wonder of God's love; not because of anything they have done, but simply because they exist. What a beautiful example they have been to me of Grace, unconditional love and selfless sacrifice. Each day they teach me about love, patience, joy, hope, grace, laughter, and above all God. Each day I learn from them how to be a better person, and how to ask for forgiveness when I don't get it right. These two little men have given me much more than I ever imagined and I am eternally grateful to them and to the God who created them. What an honor!

My arms are not strong enough
to hold you here forever;
my tears and kisses cannot heal
the pain and hurts you weather.

Yet each day I pray for you
letting you go in my heart;
to the one who can do anything;
even heal a broken heart.

Every hour of every day I lift you up to him,
so that one day when I am not near,
you can turn your eyes to him,
and let his voice be the one you hear.

I talk to him about you,
I share the silly things you do, silly things you say.
I ask him to watch over you
every hour, every day.

xoxox Mamma.

May 6, 2014

I don't hate you, but I might not agree with everything you think, say and do.

So, I try really hard to not post anything political on this blog, I much prefer to keep it about my faith journey and how being a mother has taught me about how God loves me... and yet... here I am, about to post something VERY political.

For years now I have listened to countless people go on about 'freedom' in our country; both of my Grandfathers fought for the very freedom they speak of. The freedom to choose if you will keep your child or not, the freedom to choose who you will or will not have sex with, the freedom to vote for any party that suits your needs, the freedom of religion. I am not against freedom, in fact I believe strongly in freedom and I love that I come from a country that is blessed to be free, when so many others aren't. I don't take that freedom lightly... but I am noticing a trend, a trend that is threatening my own freedom; and it's that trend that I want to talk about today.

As a Christian I stand by my Biblical belief system, it's given my reason to hope, reason to fight, reason to believe that anything can be made good, reason to long for the future. I asknowledge that this isn't everyone's faith, nor do I wish to jam it down your throat. Would I like it if you became a Christian? Yes. I am not going to lie to you on that one. I would love to see you choose Jesus as your savior but it's not up to me, that is between you and God. I believe that we all sin... yes, I said the sin word!! I believe someone who cheats on their spouse sins, I believe someone who lies, cheats, steals, is self righteous, gossips, is slothful or gluttonous, or (well you get the idea) are all living out sin, because I believe that we are all sinful in nature. Do I hate you if you cheated on your spouse? Ate 5 helpings of that cake? Gossiped about the neighbor? Stole from the local store? No. I don't hate you. I might not like what we do, I don't like the sinful areas in my own life either (and there are many) but I don't hate you and I don't hate myself. Neither does God. God chose a murderer for the line of salvation!

Do I have a right to have those opinions? YES. It is my right, my freedom under the law of Canada to have the freedom of religion, the freedom to disagree with you so long as I don't do you harm.

So, the trend that is bothering me lately... and I mean really bothering me... is the notion that if I don't agree with the 'general' population then I am a 'hater', that I am the one infringing on your belief system. I don't understand this really... by saying 'I disagree with you' you hear 'I hate you?'. I don't, nor have I ever done or said ANYTHING that would merrit you thinking that I would.

The Law society of Ontario has now banned students who graduate from a Christian law school from every working..really? Because they signed a covenant of their choice saying they would 'personally' uphold it (not enforce it on all of society?) It really doesn't matter who they are? They disagree (and what they believe/agree with is not even in question because they are being looked at on a very general platform - if you graduate from the school, you can't practice law) with a general view that society holds close and so without discussion they are being BANNED... this is reminiscent of the Nazi's and the Jews don't you think? Am I the only one who sees a resemblance?

Don't misunderstand  me... there are radical Christian groups out there who DO/Think hateful, horrible things in the name of Christianity, there are also radical Muslims, and radical animal rights people, and environmental groups who DO go around hurting others either with words or through terrorism. I DO NOT AGREE WITH THAT. I find it counter gospel and not at all within my idea of who Jesus is or what his mission was.

In our fight for 'politically correct' we have created a culture that says 'agree or else' and that.... that is just wrong to me, and goes against what our charter of rights affords me as a Canadian citizen and as a Christian.

I have found myself reading an article, or seeing a post that I liked and agree with and I actually think... 'I can't post this!' Particulary as the 'pastors wife' because it's not 'politically correct'. That in itself bothers me, because gone is any notion that we have freedom of speech, if fear is censoring what we do, think and say then we are bound to it and not free as we pretend we are.

As a Christian I am just as tired as the mainstream Muslims as being thrown into the pot with the radicals, I am tired of having my words twisted and my thoughts thrown back at me. I worry about the future of our country when legal decisions (the barring of law students to work comes to mind) are based on descrimination of Christians in the name of being 'politically correct'.

As I have said. I do not HATE anyone...I don't like everything that everyone does and I include myself in the mix. I believe as a Christian I am not called to say what is comfortable, or do what is comfortable and hence this post. I am tired of hiding behind fear from saying things I believe, no matter what they are. I also know that God told me to LOVE everyone as I would love myself, he didn't call me to judge, he said he would do that for me.  BUT, if I disagree (as we all do at times) I would hope that it can be received in love and possibly open a discussion not a fight, I would hope that my mind can be open to hear what you have to say and that yours too can be open to hear my views, without judgement, without fear, so that we can all learn, all grow, all live into this amazing freedom that we have been blessed with. It's not a right as some might say, it's a privilege that not many have in their own countries. Let's not kill ours too.