Insights and encouragement that keep us going

June 21, 2012

Job Description

I was recently listening to someone tell me about a job description they were given for a potential job. It got me thinking about my job description, and what my day looks like now, at home, compared to when I was working full time and had 2 children. There are too many differences to list. The idea however, of laying out my roles in my head was interesting.
The more I thought about my current role as wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend etc., I realized that a lot more than my job description has changed since the birth of Asher, but my attitude towards it has also changed.
Serving my family didn’t always come naturally to me. I found (as many mom’s do) that the mountains of laundry, the complaints at meal times, and the exhaustion of coming home to clean after a long day at work, overwhelming, unsatisfying and to be honest, not all that enjoyable. I very rarely did those tasks with a smile on my face or a kind word to anyone while doing them. It was usually with resentment and frustration that I took on these tasks. I missed any possible joy from being with my family while accomplishing my to do list.
Aside from those things, there were certain roles that I avoided or outright refused to do or be part of because they made me uncomfortable. Being the one that held our children while they received needles was amongst the top of the list of things I wouldn’t do. After all, I myself couldn’t handle my own needles! Dealing with throw up in the middle of the night - not my job, purely Jesse’s. Cuts, scrapes, stings etc. all fell under Jesse’s department. And I gladly passed it on to him at any moment I could.
I had selfishly created a ”safe zone” or “comfort zone” where I wouldn’t be pushed beyond my fears and where I could happily ignore anything I didn’t want to “do” as a mother.
I loved my children, appreciated my husband as best as I knew how at that point, but I had laid out a clearly defined job description as we went through family life…one that kept me in a bubble of security.
If, for the sake of this entry I take Oct. 10, 2009 (1 year before Asher’s birth) as a date for when someone would have offered me a new job description of my current position I would have looked at it and laughed. I would’ve said (probably in a self-righteous way) “you’ve got to be kidding me!” …. “You are offering me THAT position” and I would have immediately turned it down based on many things - most of which would have been fear.
Now, 20 months into this new position and I am honestly the happiest, most content and most at peace with myself and life that I have ever been. How is this possible!? I now find joy in the things I used to do for my family with attitude. I appreciate the opportunity to be at home (and not in a hospital somewhere) doing these mundane things. I’m thankful for the chance to be Joel, Calla & Asher’s mom! Are there difficult, stressful, and exhausting days - absolutely! But at the end of the day, I go to be feeling blessed and fulfilled.
I can deal with blood - needles, cuts or otherwise, I can handle the throwing up, I embrace the opportunity to cuddle my kids when they are receiving needles and have even learned how to give Asher needles. I am thankful that God chose to change my job description without telling me ahead of time! I never would’ve accepted the challenge otherwise. I am thankful for this opportunity of growth and stretching! It hasn’t been without some painful days and emotional times, but rewarding nonetheless.
I don’t write all of this to boast or celebrate my accomplishments as a mom. I guess I felt that I should share this to encourage others that if you have a new job description in front of you (by choice or by design intervention), I encourage you to embrace it, challenges, fears and all! If we don’t step out (or in my case if we aren’t thrown into the deep end without a life raft!) we don’t have the experiences God so wants us to have in order to grow us and make us more reliant on Him. I couldn’t have done any of these new tasks without His supernatural presence and help in my life. If anything, I boast in His way of working things out for His glory and good.
While I was thinking about writing this I was reminded of Moses and his excuses he had for God when God asked him to confront Pharaoh. “I can’t speak” was one of his biggest ones, yet despite his weakness, God used him to save a nation. I’m realizing now how in our weaknesses, God uses us for His glory and plan. We just have to be willing.
Take some time to consider what is in front of you and your role right now. Is there something holding you back from stepping out into a new season? If there is, then ask God to show you how you can step out in faith. There may be some or a lot of discomfort involved, but the refining will be so rewarding in the end.
Amazingly, as I was considering all of this, I saw a quote today that encouraged me!
“When things that come naturally to others have to come supernaturally to you, you’re the one picked for a miracle.” ~Beth Moore

April 5, 2012

The Big, The Small, & The Cross

As I think about Easter and as I feel my baby toe throbbing I realized something that over the past year I think I have lost sight of! God cares about the small things! I have been so busy trusting Him with big things (like Asher’s heart) that I have lost sight of the fact that God has the small things in mind as well!
I have been so busy trusting God with Asher’s life that I have taken on the small things for myself, perhaps subconsciously assuming that if I look after the smaller things, God will have more time to help my child stay alive. I really have accepted the self-appointed title of God’s personal assistant.
That is not Biblical and that is not how our Loving Father works! He cares about the very details of our lives even the minuscule ones that we think we can handle on our own!
This reminder came yesterday when I had a spot on my toe biopsied and removed. I have been feeling guilty about saying it hurts! I say to myself, well Asher had 2 open heart surgeries surely I can handle this. And yes, perspective is important - realizing things could be worse can always breed gratitude for where we are. However, I remembered, God cares about my toe and how it’s making me feel. Regardless of what problems or pain others have or I have had, he cares! He wants to heal my toe as much as He wanted to heal Asher’s heart! I don’t have to suffer thinking God is too busy to hear about my problems. He isn’t. His shoulders are very broad - broad enough to handle whatever we need to ask, wherever we are at!
His shoulders were so strong, that He allowed His only son to die on a cross because He cared over 2000 years ago that I would tell Him on April 4, 2012 that my toe hurts! He cared over 2000 years ago that I would need His forgiveness because I have been trying to carry a load that wasn’t mine to carry! And yes, He cared over 2000 years ago that Asher would be born and would need miracles to live. He cared about all of this enough to let His son be crucified and them come back from the grave so that we would have eternal life beyond the cares of this world!
While our eyes look towards the reward of Heaven, He has not left us Fatherless. He has left us with a Father who loves us beyond description. Who cares about us when we fall and get hurt, and beyond that He loves us enough to forgive us - even when we try to do His job for ourselves!
I am so full of gratitude that my toe brought me back to the picture of the cross. I am also full of thanksgiving that this Easter while I look towards the cross, I will celebrate it with a loving husband and three wonderful children who are being made healthy and whole every day by my loving Saviour!

June 28, 2012

We All Need Eachother

I was thinking today about the thank you’s I have been spreading around lately. Thank you cards, verbal thank you’s, general expressions of gratitude or encouragement…and I realized I used to really believe I was a grateful person. I truly believed that I was appreciative and thankful for everyone - and their differences.
But today I realized, I never really was. I tried my best to be all of those things, but it seldom came from my heart. If I’m honest, I really did not understand what it meant to be appreciative and thankful.
Today - I can truthfully say, I do appreciate people. I appreciate that God has given this earth people who have different dreams! People who desire to be different professions! I took for granted the fact that some people really do “want to be a Doctor when I grow up” or really do “want to be a teacher” or a “firefighter”. I guess I came to realize (finally!), without these callings, our world would really fall apart. Not only that, but there are some people in these roles that don’t feel called and wonder what difference they really are making - and I can now tell them with confidence that they are TRULY making a difference in so many lives!
I don’t even have the words to describe my gratitude to the dozens upon dozens of people in the past 9 months who have made our lives easier than what would’ve been. They have carried the load along side with us, ensuring our children and family were cared for and loved. They provided stability in an unstable circumstance. They jumped in where ever they were needed to make the days run smoothly.
I lived in “the world” before Asher was born but I am beginning to think I lived in a bubble in that world! I had no idea that I could feel this much gratitude towards people I hardly even know! Most days were all about me. I wouldn’t recommend having a seriously ill child to learn this lesson - but through it all if that’s something that I have learned then I will take it!
Life can be really hard! It can be such a joy, but if we’re honest, it can be a challenge! But I’m learning, and encourage you, to think about those in your life (even the ones you do not know very well) and appreciate the role they have! Thank God for them! Encourage them when you can - it goes a long way!
Thank you to those reading this who are such a huge part of our journey! xo

June 26, 2011

Today’s Thoughts

This week was a great week for Asher! He has developed so much in the last 2 weeks I can hardly believe it.
He is sitting with support and when lying down or in our arms he is pulling his head and neck up trying to sit up! He’s also now putting some small amounts of weight on his legs when he’s on our laps - he has never wanted to do this and has always curled his legs backwards! So this was especially exciting for the OT to see this week!
He still doesn’t enjoy tummy time, but is slowly tolerating it….I know how long it took me to enjoy being on my tummy after a C-Section, I can only imagine how awful it would be after having your sternum open twice!
We had quite a few appointments this past week with a slower upcoming week….even with the appointments, life is getting easier. With the ease has come some of the processing for me (including horrible medical dreams). Life is good - but still is a challenge to let myself think about the last 9 months! I FINALLY put a picture of Asher as a newborn in a frame - that’s how long it’s taken! It’s a happy but sad feeling to look at it. I’m so thankful he’s with us, but seeing the picture really does take me to that moment of the unknown…he was a different baby then. He was dying. But the picture is also an incredible reminder of God’s faithfulness!
I’ve been reading a devotional book I’ve had for probably close to 5 years. To be honest, it’s one I couldn’t stand reading for the last 5 years. In fact, I hardly touched it because I found it depressing. I know that sounds awful, how can a devotional be depressing. But it focused so much on the hardships God brings us through and His love and faithfulness regardless of how hard life can be. I always thought, wow, this is crazy, my life is not like this, this brings me down, I’m fine why would I read about a hard life. HA! Well, I picked it up again “randomly” a few months ago and read it with different eyes. It’s been such an encouragement and has been so uplifting! Funny how one thing can seem so depressing at one point and then uplifting during another.
Anyway, I’m blessed and have had some difficult days but can see God’s hand holding me through it all - more than that, I see His hands holding Asher through it all!

May 30, 2011

Good Day

Today was a challenging day. But it was a good day because of the reasons why it was challenging!
I have a boy that does not stop talking.
I have a girl that does not stop moving or talking.
I have a baby that eats, sleeps and ROLLS!
For all of those reasons I will go to bed with a thankful heart even if during the day at moments I was overwhelmed! I am blessed with three beautiful talking, walking, rolling children!

May 26, 2011

The “X”

Today as I was feeding Asher I was thinking about our life as a family. Sometimes it is easy for me to want to just not go and do something because it seems like a lot of work with Asher with everything we have to take or do while we’re out. Most times I push through it and do it anyway for the sake of the family as a whole but sometimes still feeling overwhelmed.
But today God gave me perspective on this as I was feeding Asher. As of now, Asher’s CDH7 gene is incomplete. It is incomplete because some of the letters on the gene got mixed up in development. Because of the reversal of a letter - the gene got to the letter “X” before it was complete. The letter “X” on the gene means complete. It tells the gene to stop sequencing…the work is done. When this occurs, the letters do not pass on the complete information for the proteins and then on and on the wrong message goes. This is why so many of his issues are so complex….many of the organs that developed at the same time as this gene got the “incomplete” message.
That is the simplified verision of Asher’s situation and the Syndrome that they diagnosed him with.
God said to me today that Asher does not have to be the “X” in our family. Things do not have to “stop” just because of Asher. He is a miracle and a blessing but that does not mean he is the end. Up until recently it has been all about Asher as he gets better and as issues are resolved it’s becoming easier to make life about life and not just him. The best thing for him and all of us is for him to be a “letter in our family” “part of the sequence” not the “x”….
This may not make any sense to anyone but me…but I thought I’d share anyway! :) Maybe there is something in your life that you have allowed to be an “x” that is preventing you from doing what you’re called to do.
Asher’s doing awesome and our days are less crazy as we settle into a routine and schedule with less appointments overall! :)

May 5, 2011

Defining “normal” Life

Last week was an exciting week in our house! Joel & Calla were so pumped to be in my sister Sheena’s wedding! Jesse & I (and I’m sure Asher if he could talk) were pumped about spending an entire weekend without doctors or hashing over his health!
But before all of this excitement could really begin, we had one last appointment of the week on our way to Toronto. We went to London to meet with Asher’s geneticist.
For two weeks (longer if I had time to consider it) I was dreading this appointment! I didn’t want to go - I thought about cancelling but knew that, that would just prolong it. So, with much reservation I arrived at the appointment completely stressed! I knew she would tell us about how Asher developed in the womb with CHARGE Syndrome.
We went in and met with her and had an a good conversation. She was so excited to see how well Asher has been doing and how much he’s grown. She had a file in her hand and I knew it had the results of Jesse’s & my blood work from last year at Sick Kid’s. It would tell us if we carried the mutation that causes CHARGE Syndrome. I didn’t want to know but we needed to know (if we carry the mutation it has a huge impact for Joel & Calla and our nieces and nephews). She casually asked if we knew the results and we said no. She told us we DO NOT carry the mutation. It was a 1% chance that Asher would develop CHARGE - and he did.
You would think that would spell relief for me. But, in a wierd way I felt like - “that’s it?” I don’t want anyone else to have to worry about their kids having CHARGE in our family - but I think I was looking for someone to blame. She went on in great detail about extrons and introns, then how the extrons get passed down into protiens etc. etc. It was very interesting - but Jesse and I have said all along - all of this is facsinating, we just wish we weren’t talking about Asher. The feeling of wanting someone to blame quickly left me as I listened to her explain everything. I knew that I needed to just trust that God knew what He was doing!
Anyway, she said something like “well in normal DNA” then she stopped and said - “well what is normal anyway!?” She said we like to say normal DNA but we really have little baseline for what determines “normal”. She said just when we think we know what “normal” looks like we make another discovery that shows us we were wrong about that part of the DNA.
That got me thinking about “normal”. We all like to think we have a “normal” life and then when one little thing throws us out of whack we think - “oh I just want things to get back to normal”….when we make one discovery of something different we find that our “normal” wasn’t so “normal” after all. And we long for when we were back in that place in time (even though at the time we had other issues that caused us to think thing’s weren’t normal) in retrospect everything can look pretty good compared to the present.
But life is like the science of genetics. We just finally find a baseline and then it goes out the window with a new discovery or a new crisis, or a new exciting addition to our lives.
Don’t strive for “normal”. Things change by the second. Strive to enjoy the second you are in. Knowing that in 5 minutes every reality you know could change in a flash. Asher’s “normal” has changed countless times in 7 months! That leaves me saying - what is “normal” anyway? :)
One of the many wonderful moments of the weekend was going to Fantasy Fair with all three kids and my sister, her husband and adorable daughter! As I was sitting on the train ride with Calla with Asher on my knee, I couldn’t have been happier - because, for that moment, life felt very “normal”! :)

April 23, 2011

Out of the Furnace….

Half way through our journey of the last 7 months, I heard a speaker tell of a story that would change my outlook forever.
He spoke of a message that impacted his life the most, it was from his favourite preacher was about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the book of Daniel. Because they would not give into the ways of King Nebuchadnezzar, they were thrown into the fiery furnace. All along they were convinced that even if they were thrown into the furnace God would save them and see them through.
When they looked into the furnace and saw four men walking around unharmed they called to them and said come out! So they came out of the furnace and everyone crowded around them. Daniel 3:27 says “They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and THERE WAS NO SMELL OF FIRE ON THEM” (okay the CAPS is mine for emphasis!).
When he spoke of this it smacked me in the face and God said - I can take you through a furnace with angels all around and you can come out of that furnace and never even smell of smoke!
The speaker said some people walk around with a cold and you can smell smoke from miles away! But others experience tragedy and heartache and you would never know it by God’s grace!
So right then and there my goal and prayer became to not smell of smoke. We were sure in a furnace and some days the embers are still hot! But I don’t have to walk around with a chip on my shoulder so that everyone can smell me coming a mile away! “My child has a SYNDROME, My child has had open heart surgeries…” This is true. But with God’s grace I can live life free of smoke even in these circumstances.
Do not get me wrong…yikes I am not perfect!
Yes, there are days when it is AMAZINGLY easy to not smell of smoke. When you are at SickKid’s and your child is not the only critical one - it’s easy to feel the grace and humility and to not wreak of smoke.
BUT, there are days in a general waiting room and Asher is screaming his head off because his bottle we have to thicken with rice cereal is too thick and we have no other formula to make it thinner and people are GLARING at me to “calm your child down, the stench of smoke starts to lift off of my clothes and waft into their direction!  I feel like screaming louder than Asher “ARE YOU KIDDING ME! BABIES CRY! AND MY BABY IS ONLY 5 WEEKS POST OP FROM HIS SECOND OPEN HEART! WHAT’S YOUR BABY’S PROBLEM! WHY DON’T YOU SHUT YOURS UP FIRST!” 
That’s my flesh’s response! :) Sorry it may not be very kind but that’s the honest truth. That’s when I close my eyes for a split second and remind myself that with God’s grace that does not have to be what the world sees from me or hears from me.
Life is full of furnaces - some are more blazing than others! Some are more traumatic than others and some are just tiny coals….regardless God is mighty to save us from them. And if He doesn’t take us right out of them, He’ll send an angel to walk beside you - and when you come out, well you don’t even have to smell like you’ve been in one.

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