Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

August 13, 2014

we aren't powerless

 If you have ever known someone who is in the midst of serious suffering then you know what it can feel like to really feel helpless in the face of their pain. It's hard to watch someone you love and care about struggling, to see the unshed tears in their eyes or see the slight slump in the shoulders and know that nothing you do will change their situation.

Now, magnify that by a million... and we sit back and watch our brothers and sisters around the world who are facing unthinkable tragedy, pain and torment, starvation, humiliation, torture... we have all heard the stories coming to use via social media, blogs and news outlets. It's horrific, painful, unimaginable... I am struggling to even come up with the right words because frankly there just aren't any words to describe it. Who beheads children? How desperate do you need to be to throw your own beloved child off a mountain just to spare them any more pain? What is happening to them moves us, but to what? To action? What can we do? I have been mulling this over since the world started to hear more and more stories coming out of Iraq. What can I do? Between being half a world away and totally ignorant of the politics involved in helping these dear people I am at an utter loss. In fact, one would almost believe that it's hopeless... almost.

I am not going to sit here and pretend that I have ever faced such horrible suffering. I just haven't. My life is full of rich blessings and to pretend otherwise would be like slapping these people in the face. However, I will say this. God doesn't know 'hopeless', he didn't create chaos, and he certainly doesn't have boundaries. When we faced some of our tough times it was Him who brought the help, via friends, families and even strangers. Knowing that they were praying helped, it didn't fix anything, it didn't stop the hurting, but it gave hope where all seemed hopeless.

If God can't use me on the front lines in Iraq, if I can't personally go there and rescue every single innocent victim of ISIS then I need to pray for those that can be there, for the Kurds who are the only line of defense and security for these people right now. I need to pray for the men, women and children who are fighting just to live. I also need to seriously start praying for the men and women of ISIS... yes; I said that. I spent an hour praying for them the other day, for they too are God's creation and God loves them, grieves what they are doing but loves them. Loving our enemies is not always easy, and it doesn't mean that we love what they are doing, but I believe they need prayer, and a lot of it.

In this new phase of suffering in Iraq, we can feel the hopelessness and choose to look away from it because 'there's nothing I can do'. I have been very tempted, trust me. However that is a lie, I can plead to the maker of the heavens on behalf of Iraq, for all of her people, and I can hope for them.

Prayer is a powerful tool... but I also urge you to look into some organizations that could use your support. There are humanitarian efforts that are set up and doing their best to get aid to the victims.

Four charities already on the ground and working are:

Mercy Corps
Save the Children
International Rescue Committee
Action against hunger
Preemptive Love Coalition 

I am sure there are more, if you know of any specifically please feel free to list them in the comments section.

There is a movement going forward this Sunday calling for the world to pray for Iraq. I ask you to join and pray with me, not just this Sunday but every day.

lessons on love from a four year old

I can still remember walking down the street when Kaleb was just a few months old. He was in the stroller, facing me, and Tim and I were returning from a meeting, Josh was home with a sitter. It was evening, the lights and sounds of the city were vibrant and full of life. There were neon signs on buildings and car horns blaring, people talking and laughing; not to mention the sirens of emergency vehicles. Yet, Kaleb didn't take his eyes off me. I remember thinking it was the most amazing thing in the world that this little baby, born only months before would think I was more intriguing than all the lights and sounds that filled the air that night.

Little has changed when it comes to this little man, for the time being I am still the love of his life and I have to admit that I revel in it, and will, for as long as it lasts before some beautiful woman comes to whisk his heart away. Yet, even then, I know that his love will remain.

He has such a good heart, a genuine love for us, a pure love, a giving love and when he looks up at you and smiles, you feel the warmth, almost as if it was a ray of sunshine that is warming you from the inside out. A number of things have happened this summer that brought me to this post; little smiles, hugs, kisses, flowers (weeds) given in outstretched hands and a multitude of other expressions of his love for us, for all of us, not just me, but his Daddy and brother too.

This week, in the wake of a few quiet days without the boys (they remain at the cottage while I deal with a few things here at home). You can call it an epiphany if you like. I saw something that was talking about a childlike faith, and it made me think about Kaleb. I wondered, when was the last time I looked at God in a childlike way? When was the last time that I was so intrigued by Him that I didn't get distracted by the lights and sounds of everyday life on the busy streets? When was the last time I gave him my expressions of love, even if they were only weeds? I am deeply saddened because I can't honestly remember. I get so caught in the daily grind of life that I forget my purpose, I forget that I was created for love and worship.

Thinking back over the summer, seeing all the little acts and tokens of love that Kaleb pours out into my life, knowing how life giving that love is, knowing how beautiful it is, how much it feeds my soul, and I wonder that I haven't done that for my own heavenly Father in too long to remember, well, it breaks my heart.

Today, I will lift my eyes to Him, and I will watch him and whisper "I love you" and sing to him, and talk with him, just the way Kaleb does with me because the reality is, I do love Him, and I can't call him friend, ask him for help, beg him for mercy or healing, when I can't even take the time to show him how much I love Him, how much I appreciate Him, how grateful I am; when I am too busy to worship Him in the daily cycle of life.

My kids are daily lessons of God's love for me, this week, they are a lesson in my love for God and I am left humbled.

August 5, 2014

sabath summer

In Sanibel enjoying a post dinner walk on the beach
This past weekend we marked a significant day in our little family. We hit the one year anniversary for Josh's last surgery. That may seem like less than a big deal, but we were advised that if we chose the replacement surgery over the paleative option that we would back in the OR in a year. Happily I announce that we haven't seen that OR, and God willing we won't for a while.

Last summer was not our most stellar summer in the history of us, in fact, I think I can safely say it ranked up there with one of our worst summers in history. It sucked on so many levels! We trudged through it and we made it, with God's help and with the help of family and friends who gathered around us and offered support and love.

I am very happy to say that this summer has easily been the best summer in our small family history, quite possibly in my life. We have been having a blast! (Thank you for your patience with my utter neglect of this blog for a while).

As soon as we busted the boys out of school a few days early we packed our car (to overflowing) and began a four day road trip to Florida. We made stops each day that added a holiday feel to a long boring drive. We road trains, swam in pools, played soccer on the side of the road, hit a blue grass festival in a small west Virginia town, wandered through an old castle and a pirate museum and collected enough McDonald's toys to drive us completely our of our head. We also found the strength to listen to the LEGO movie a bazillion times and can proudly say we have pretty much mastered the 'Everything is awesome' song. After driving for four straight days we found ourselves (by design of course) in Orlando, Florida where we spend a very fun 8 days playing by the pool, riding roller coasters and beating the heat on river rapids and logs that drop you off mountains. We walked hundreds of miles (only a mild exaggeration) and even got transported through time to see the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. After leaving Orlando we headed straight to Sanibel Island where we got the chance to catch up with some really awesome friends that we haven't seen since just after Josh's surgery last year. We lazed on the beach, fished (well... Tim and Kaper fished... Josh and I avoided that sort of thing in favour of the beach). We watched as both a shark and several dolphins swam within feet of us, found star fish and sand dollars and a multitude of shells and we even managed to see a very large sting ray. Life is sweet when you have nothing to do, nothing to worry about, except planning the fun things you will do that day. Leaving Sanibel and our friends was tough, but we made it sweeter by doing loads of fun stuff on the four day drive home. We went bowling and swimming, saw Colonial Williamsburg and enjoyed the adventure of being evacuated from our hotel due to fire just as we were headed to the pool, so that we stood on the street in our swimsuits and little else. We went to a chocolate factory and hit the outlets, and then to cap it off we spent the night at Great Wolf Lodge enjoying on last kick at the can in the water-park.

Coming home was sweet, we had missed our home and Josh was missing his CN Tower (yes, it's his you know... just ask him). Kaleb was sorely missing his dinosaur (the one with one horn) and me? I missed my bed that is NOT in the same room with those two boys! ;)

The Sunday after coming home Josh and I had the privilege of being ambassadors for Sick Kids when Revitup for Sick Kids arrived at the University street entrance and revved their engines for the kids in hospital to hear and told us about the already 50,000 dollars they had raised for the Heart Centre at Sick Kids. Josh was a star that weekend and made most of the local news outlets that night and the newspapers the next day.

The following day we set off for a week of day camp at Little Trinity where the boys went on a wilderness adventure with Moses (a.k.a. Tim). They came home talking about the Bible and singing songs to Jesus. They also came home dirty and tired, and dirty... very dirty... really very dirty ;) BUT happy!

As soon as day camp ended we once again packed the car up and we made the move to the cottage (where we are now) for a month of country and beach life.

After the summer we had last year, this summer feels like a polar oppposite and I can see God's hand all over our time together as a family. We are renewed (if not rested). Josh is running and playing like kids his age should be, he's happy, really happy. Kaper is a monkey and a sweet heart and growing up so fast. He's discovering new likes and hobbies and is quickly developing into his own little person who is both independant and yet still my mama's boy at heart. It's a good age with these two, a really good age.

I haven't written much (at all really) this summer but as you can see... I am fully enjoying the moments with these boys while I can, and quite honestly we are having the time of our lives! God has been so good, so faithful, so incredibly giving. We are blessed beyond measure and we know it. I no longer take times like these for granted, we are in the resting place that God has provided and we are basking in the glow, we know we are blessed and we are sitting back and enjoying the time of peace while we have it.

While I have been busy with summer life, I have also been busy finishing a project that I have spent the last few years working on when I can. I have written a book and am moving into the editing stages of the process and then soon, the publishing phase. So, while I have been neglecting the blog a little I have still been writing and I will keep you posted on the release date. I haven't forgotten you, my faithful readers, and I have many more stories and things to share in the coming weeks. I do appreciate your patience and understanding!

Once upon a time I was walking a very dark road, I couldn't see the path below me or my hand in front of me but it caused me to look up, and what I saw were millions of stars lighting the sky. They were beautiful. Last summer was dark, I couldn't see where I was walking, I couldn't see my hand in front of me, but this summer I am seeing the stars and they too, are beautiful.

Many blessings to each of you.