Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

November 25, 2015

Reality Check

I took the kids to beavers tonight, I have an impending cold, the kind that teases you for days before it really lets loose and parties in your head until you think it might actually blow your head up... I had a great coffee chat with a friend while the kids were in beavers and then I took the kids home and rushed them to bed so I could have time to myself... to feel sorry for myself with a kleenex in one hand and a warm lemon drink in the other. To 'entertain' myself I flipped on Netflix and picked a film called Blood Brother...

REALITY CHECK: I have first world problems.

This film is based on a true story about a guy named Rocky who went travelling as a tourist to India. While there he went to an orphanage and stay for a while getting to know the kids, after a set time he leaves to finish his travels but they all seem empty to him compared to those kids he'd left behind. He was faced with a decision. Adopt one? Forget them all? Become a part of their family and move to India.

These kids all have HIV/AIDS. He serves them with such love, unimaginable love, sacrificial love. There is one portion of the film that takes you through him caring over a sick child in hospital who he was sure was going to die. He worked tirelessly to make that child as comfortable as possible, to give him a 'special' death. The boy however lives to the amazement of all. He credits God, the doctors credit him.

I was so moved by the love in this film... especially in the world climate we are living in right now. There is so little love like this left it seems. Everyone is always 'picking a side' or being offended by a group, or hating based on bias, or killing in the name of religion, terrorizing millions of men, women and children... it's such a dark time.

Strokes me that we could all use a little bit more of this particular kind of love... it's the kind of love that moves people to change, the kind of love that offers hope, the kind of love that breaks down barriers and as in the case of that young boy... it's the kind of love that can save lives. It's the love that faces fear but does it anyway, it's the kind of love that is honest, painful, awe inspiring.

I see the suffering of the children living there; I think of our Hospital stays and the many comforts I miss as a result... and I am truly humbled. What we have seen, what we have gone through is absolutely NOTHING. It is, while hard and often scary, a first world problem. We walk around the streets of the cities we live in and we pass a millions blessings that we no longer see, maybe we never saw them to begin with because it's our way of life... Running water, nurses who cover us when we need a coffee, heck... even coffee makes the list of the thousands of things we take for granted every single day. Electricity? Wifi? Car? Ambulances when tragedy strikes? The list is endless, and we sit in our warm homes and complain about politics or how offended we are by Starbucks red cups...

I hope; I hope that one day someone can say that I loved well, that I was able to show love, that I will serve and serve sacrificially. That is my prayer, that I will choose love or selfishness.

I urge you to take the time to watch this film... BLOOD BROTHER... (on netflix) it was worth the hour something I spent for the eye opening.

November 5, 2015

They can overcome.

For most of Josh's seven and half years we have been told he has a language impairment and learning disability resulting from the stroke... he's heard it over and over again at multiple appointments... he's heard the doctors say repeatedly where is weaknesses are, and he's heard his teachers tell me over and over again where he's missing the mark... it's been a fact of his life; it's become a fact of our lives...

Last fall Josh came downstairs after only 4 days of school crying; he told me that he didn't want to go to school because it was 'too hard' and he 'can't do it'... he told me that he 'can't read' and that all the other kids are reading but not him... it was hard to hear him so defeated but no matter how hard we all tried his progress was painfully slow. His test scores for reading were quite low (way below his grade level should be - according to provincial standards, which is not necessarily achievable by the average kid if you ask me)...

When my Grandpa died we had to drive up north to the funeral; on the way to keep the kids from fighting I started asking Josh math questions... turns out that he can do double digit (carrying the 10) addition in his head, as well as subtraction... I made a bit of a deal about it because I was so impressed... The next day I noticed something different about him; he was wanting do math more and more, he kept asking me to ask him questions. That was when I was hit in the head with the truth of Joshua's life. I should have seen it before; but Josh has been hearing how he 'can't' do things from everyone, doctors, teachers, therapists, and even me when I am talking to the doctors and teachers... without even realizing what we were doing we were crushing his self-confidence. You hear you 'can't' enough and you start to really believe you can't.

So, I started that very day working to build that confidence in him. I talked endlessly to whoever would listen (when Josh could hear me) about how much his reading was improving, how his language was so much better, how the new medicine he was on was allowing him to do things he couldn't do before. I started telling him multiple times a day that he 'can' do it, that he 'was' doing it.

It has been a month since Grandpa's funeral, just one month. Josh is reading is getting so much better already, he's not where he needs to be, he's got a long way to go, but he's TRYING, and he's getting it, I can see his brain engaging and the code of letters is starting to click for him. Yesterday he started to try to read the signs on the way back from an appointment at Sick Kids... We were sitting in the cab and the taxi driver commented to him what a great reader he was and Josh's little face lit up like it was Christmas.

This morning when we waited for the bus I told him how proud I was of him, that he was getting so great at reading and that when Daddy (who has been a way for the week) comes home he will be so surprised with how far he's come... Josh looked at me with so much pride in himself, and then he came over and initiated a heart warming hug. It almost felt like a thank you. (I hug Josh so much that he never really initiates hugs; so to get one from him was a gift).

I got so used to the appointments where Josh is being tested for things (learning and language), appointments where he's present but often busy with a game or colouring, that I forgot he's taking in absolutely EVERYTHING we are saying about him; and he's taking it to heart. It should not have taken me so long to see this, to change the language we use around him from 'can't' to 'can'. It should not have taken so long... but I am so glad it didn't take longer.

If you learn anything from our story learn this: Words are powerful. They can break a spirit or they can make a person whole. They can defeat a person or build them up to be victorious. They can be heard even when we don't think the person is listening. How and when we use words to describe our kids will determine a lot of things about who they will become. It can't always be helped; these conversations sometimes need to take place; but balance is imperative; when the doctors/teachers are done telling them what they can't do, you need to step in to tell them that they can, and you need to help them believe it. The change I have seen in Josh in just one month is proof that self confidence in a child, believing in themselves, is a huge part of the battle and it will determine if they win or lose that battle.

The wonderful thing about kids? They bounce back; they overcome.

November 2, 2015

pause the chaos

It is an interesting thing when you set traditions... we started one a long time ago when Kaleb was just a year old; one we didn't know we were setting but has turned into one of my favourite things to anticipate each year. When he was one and Josh was two and a half we dressed them up in their costumes and we drove to our friends house where the men took the kiddies (five in total) around the streets for halloween. Kaleb in his stroller as Tiggy and the rest racing around banging on doors and begging (very sweetly) for any treat they might have. Every year I get a group photo (some years were a trial with four boys and a young lady). Each year I look at them and remember what they all looked like the year before and I can't get over how much they have changed; how much they have grown. I look forward to seeing them grow; to seeing how long we can keep this tradition alive before they would rather go trick or treating with their friends. 

There is something so magical about childhood, as they get ready to go out, as the anticipation amps itself up and the thrill of being outside on the dark streets comes to it's brimming head I can distinctly remember what that feeling was like. Then the return; when you get to show mum all that loot! The inevitable 'sorting' of the candy where in our house we check for all the scary things my parents used to check for but also for any peanut treat. (Sometimes when it's something Mama really likes she finds things on the label written in invisible ink - glad he can't read yet). It works in our favour that Tim and I are known to take a week holiday to ourselves following halloween so all those peanut butter cups manage to find a home in our suit case.

This year as I watched their rosy cheeks return, when they picked up their over flowing bag and tried to hug it to themselves because it was so heavy I was overcome with how fleeting this thing called childhood is. The little lady I talked about, the only one in a group of four boys, looks so much older this year, Josh too is getting so tall and grown up. It's hard, when you are in the thick of it with them to stop and appreciate the moment for what it is. It's hard to watch the chaos and not sit in it for a few seconds and just enjoy it. It's life's fluidity I guess but it seems like only yesterday that I was the rosy cheek little girl clinging to my own over stuffed bag of candy waiting for my Dad to remove 'dangerous' items that he would sacrifice himself for me and eat on my behalf.

May you each have a really wonderful November and try to pause the chaos long enough to enjoy it for what it is... a very precious memory.