Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

December 24, 2014

A single light

It is Christmas eve. I love this particular holiday. This year we gifted the whole family with a new puppy named Max. He's a joy to have in the house but he is a puppy and he can be rambunctious; lots of walks are needed to keep him at a good level of sane while in the house. My shoes demand that he be too tired to chew on them! This morning I set off for a walk with him, the streets were fairly quiet, it was mild out and it was still dark. I passed several people on my walk and a funny thing began to happen. In an age when 'Merry Christmas' has been replaced by 'Happy Holidays' I was pleasantly surprised when a young man passed me and wished me a Merry Christmas, a few more steps and an older woman walking her dog also wished me a Merry Christmas, then it was the older homeless man on the corner near Queen, then the Muslim woman with her son, and the Muslim man walking his elderly parent into the grocery store. In fact, not once, did I hear Happy Holidays, and I was walking through a very Muslim area of town. Each person I passed (except for a few who seemed to be rushing to get somewhere) smiled at me as I passed and wished me a Merry Christmas. It was so great! Their smiles, their Christmas greetings gave me the spirit to move down the street offering the same smiles, the same greetings.

Tonight, we went to the service at the church where the children put on a very cute portrayal of the Christmas story, it was mayhem. Kids dressed as sheep, and several animals that I couldn't identify... even an elephant, angels, shepherds, scribes,  kings, and of course Mary and Joseph. In the madness something came home to me... this is exactly what Christmas must have been like back in the first century. Not the trees and gifts or things like wishing people the latest politically correct thing... but the madness, the mayhem. The busyness that saw a pregnant woman needing to give birth in a barn, the animals, the noise, the smells. At the end of the service Tim took the advent candle and he lit my candle, I in turn lit the boys candles and we turned and lit the candles of the boys behind us... the light spread from row to row until the entire church was lit; all from a single light.

I think of the beautiful light of the star that night, how the light of the world was born in that barn, and that single light has passed from person to person and lights the world. It may not always seem bright, in fact in recent days with the threat of terrorists and the fear of the politically correct it seems that it's darker than ever; but that light is still lit. It is alive in me, it's alive in many people I know and as we move into the new year my prayer for you is that you pass your light along, share it with the person sitting behind you so that we light the world.

Merry Christmas my friends. Thank you for sharing in this wonderful year with our family!

December 16, 2014

Joshua's Hope

For the last three years I have been feeling led to start a foundation to aid in the fight for better adult care of Congenital Heart Survivors; I say 'led' because I felt that God was asking me to do it... and my answer was always 'No, I can't'. I am not sure if you know what it involves (even I don't know the extent of it...) but it takes a lot of 'seed' money and lawyers and buerocracy that I know nothing about. It was/is overwhelming to me so I continued to shut the idea down. Money alone stops me, forget all that red tape stuff. So I have moved into the 'mother volunteer' role and it's been serving me well, serving the agencies well, and hopefully one day serving Josh well. However, this past year the answers have become increasingly clear. I want to do more than be a bystander to Joshua's future; I am simply not satisfied with waiting for others to get the job done. I want to be at ground zero, on the front line; I want to be a part of making it happen. I have learned a lot about the health care system, I have discovered the amazing things that are happening, and the awesome things that are about to happen. I am learning daily about the specialty of Congenital Heart Defects, and how incredibly hard they are to treat. I am also learning about all the problems, the setbacks, the stumbling blocks that face Josh and his peers in the years to come, if nothing gets accomplished now to change that for them.

My dream, shared by some key people is to have a Heart Institute within the walls of Sick Kids that treats all Congenital Heart Defect patients. Pre-natal, pediatrics, and adults alike. All patients, one model of care, one building. It would be a first, it would be a ground breaking project and it would forever change the face of medicine, particularly in this field.

The first steps are baby steps, reaching out to parents of CHD kids, sharing with them the key problems that face our kids, talking with our government officials, asking tough questions of the government and boards of the hospitals. It isn't going to happen over night, sadly it may not happen in my lifetime without a LOT of support from key people... people like you, people who have read about Josh's story and been touched by it.

A few weeks ago I once again entertained the idea of starting a foundation, with the key mandate being to aid in this endeavour. Once again the same issues arose... but then I had a thought, God inspired if you ask me. I could start up a third party organization under the umbrella of the Sick Kids foundation. The name even came to me on the spot... Joshua's Hope. I contacted my rep at Sick Kids and asked her about it and received a green light... and before you know it, here we are!

Joshua's Hope will raise awareness about the growing issues surrounding adult care for kids like Josh, and the money we raise will go directly to the highest priority needs of the Labatt Family Heart Center at Sick Kids Hospital, my aim is to help fund the little projects that will lead to the larger project of this Heart Institute. This is a huge undertaking, it will require skills that I didn't know I had but will have to come up with, it will require the help of some good volunteers, and yet, I know that it can happen.

I haven't put together all the little bits and bobs just yet, with Christmas on the horizon I have decided to wait until the new year to think about websites and things of that nature but I urge you to visit our donation page on the Sick Kids foundation website (Joshua's Hope). I also ask you to share this with your social media contacts so that we can start getting the word out. Your help in this is both greatly appreciated and SO necessary! I really can't do this without you.

Hope for their lifetime starts today,