Bravo Silverheights Community

Tonight was our school’s winter concert.  The kids all took part, each with their own classes. We were the proud parents, with the silly grins on our face, taking pictures and waving like lunatics. It was fun and the kids really enjoyed themselves.  Tonight though, that’s not what my post is about.  My post is about how thankful I am for a school community who values all peoples.

My highlight tonight wasn’t watching our kids perform (bear with me), it was watching and listening to the developmental class “air band” to their Christmas song.  Air guitar, air drums, lip syncing, dancing, smiles, off beat clapping, kids running off the stage…it was absolutely perfect.  They were themselves.  But even better than that? The crowd. There was clapping and dancing, the smaller children were enjoying themselves and at the end of their performance, the crowd whooped and hollered and gave those kids what they deserve.

People recognized their worth.  It wasn’t a pity thing, at least I don’t believe it was. It was genuine appreciation for all the kids who were up on stage, who were giving it their all. It was the loudest cheer of all the routines. The kids beamed, and as a mom with a child with special needs? I beamed along with them. I recognized the importance of this moment, of their moment to shine. And shine they did.

Well done Silverheights Community, well done.

Christ-Mess

Holidays are typically a time where we all walk around with smiles on our faces, acting like this is the best time of our lives. In reality many of us struggle; with unmet expectations, reeling from the death of a loved one or the loss of a job or anything else for that matter.  The truth is, life goes on despite the Christmas season and it is a painful time for many, myself included.

Christmas holds many wonderful memories for me growing up.  It was a time when we would visit with family, my aunt would sparkle everyone who came into her house with glitter, including my Uncle Lee who was a gigantic teddy bear, the last person you’d expect to see glitter on.  We had a house full of family for dinners, or would travel to other family to enjoy it with them.  Unwrapping presents before my parents woke up and trying desperately to re-wrap them in the same manner.  Christmas stockings with candy canes and clementines.

Christmas in my adult life is very different from that.  Our first Christmas was a difficult one, as we had lost our first child in a miscarriage who was due right around the holiday season.  I was pregnant again but still felt the loss as church services reflected on Mary and the birth of Jesus.I felt very keenly aware of the loss and I was missing a piece of my heart.

As the years passed, Logan and Abby arrived. With that, the diagnosis of autism and the dreams of my Christmas as a child faded away and we adopted new traditions as a family.  They are traditions that I have grown to love and appreciate, but the truth is there is still a part of me that feels a sense of loss each year; for them, for myself, for the rest of the family.

Having the three younger children has been a blessing to my dreams of Christmas morning chaos as they too open and try to re-wrap presents, they enjoy their candy canes and clementines. I enjoy the wonder in their eyes as they look at the tree and this year play with our kitten Pekoe and shooing her out of the tree. Their questions as they process the advent season and what it means for Jesus to be born.

I have a difficult time each Christmas, to maintain good mental and physical health. With parties and drop ins, my diet is less than ideal. The sugar does a number on me, as does all the social interaction, the fake smiling. I struggle with dealing with the kids home for the two weeks over Christmas, being out of routine and full of sugar too. To try and make them conform to some unrealistic expectations to sit, be still and quiet in certain places, which leaves us all with a feeling of frustration.

For the past few Christmas’, it’s been a financial nightmare for us. Out of work, insane bills, glasses, dentists, car accidents, aka murphy’s law….it all happens around Christmas. This year is no different unfortunately.  We have been incredibly blessed though, through church and community. It is a good boost in humanity and one that does not go unappreciated. Our children will be blessed this Christmas through the generosity of others.  This mothers heart cannot find all the words to say thank you appropriately.

This Christmas I will do what I always do, seek to find The Beauty in Chaos.

Prayer and Fasting

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This Monday, December 8th, I will be doing something I’ve never actually done before. I will be unplugged from the internet. I will be spending the day writing in my journal, praying for God’s guidance and fasting. I feel in this current struggle, in order to find some solace, I must seek God. I’m choosing to turn my eyes upward when all I want to do is throw my hands up in defeat.

Almost 3 years ago Steve and I made a very difficult but needed decision, we moved from our comfort, from a beautiful house on the water, a comfortable income, a comfortable neighbourhood. We took the step of faith that we believed God was asking us to take, one I still have no regret making. But in stepping out in faith, we’ve encountered many obstacles, dead ends and trials.  A pretty good sign you’ve made the right decision, but not without challenges.

So on Monday I will spend the day while the kids are at school doing these three things:

Reflection: to remember and reflect on what God has done for us over the past 3 years since we stepped out in faith, to journal the things that I have learned, experienced, felt. Times of closeness, times of seeming distant, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Confession: to admit to my mistakes, to confess and ask forgiveness. This may be areas in which I have turned my back on God or it may be in how I’ve treated someone else. I will seek out the forgiveness both of my creator and those who I’ve offended.

Proclamation: to spend time in prayer, reading and professing scriptures of promises and blessings. Recommitting myself to the tasks at hand, to God, to family, to friends, to church.

I’d like to invite you to join with me on Monday. Either to participate in prayer and fasting for your own family, or to join me in prayer for my family as you remember us. If you do choose to pray for us, here are a few areas in which we could use your prayer.

Relationships: healing, bonding, patience.
Finances: job for Steve or I, Gods continued to provision
Direction: Hope’s Reason Ministries
Perseverance: for the road ahead with autism, adhd, and a new diagnosis to learn about and work through.http://year27.com/wp-content/uploads/121204_2Chronicles7_14.jpg

Advent Reflections.

This Sunday is the first of the advent season. Growing up in the pentecostal church, this is a tradition that I was unfamiliar with until Steve and I were married and I began to attend the baptist church where he was a youth pastor. It was there that I found the Christmas season come alive and to learn to reflect each Sunday on how we can celebrate Christ in more meaningful ways.

This first Sunday we look to hope.  What hope can an infant bring? We are hopeful when any baby is expected.  How much more hopeful should we be when it is the coming Messiah?

The advent season is a beautiful time of reflection as we look to the coming of the birth of Christ, the one who is responsible for the forgiveness of our sins. Without the advent season, my life would be much more difficult. Christ’s journey from the stable in Bethlehem to the cross on Golgatha means I can live with hope.

It is this hope that sustains me through the darkness, through my trials. Hope that gives me courage to face each day with the faith; that nothing is in vain.  There is a purpose. I have a purpose, a calling, a life filled with love that knows no limits. In Christ my hope is found, we can strive for it in all sorts of places but the ultimate source is found in a tiny infant, born in a stable to a young woman and man who were ordinary people like you and I. God chose them for a purpose, they were gifted for a reason.

Hope is a gift that must be received with grace and gratitude; to be valued and treasured. Hope is also a gift that needs to be extended to others. We can share our hope with others and introduce them to this infant in the stable in whom a key to the salvation of the world is placed; our giver and sustainer of life. The living hope of the world, in the flesh.

I hope that as this advent season continues that you will reflect on the Hope that Christ brings or can bring to your life. That you will look to the most absurd place, a stable, to find the most profound person to have ever walked the earth; look to Jesus for your hope.

Looking After Yourself

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I am very blessed with the people in my life.  People who remind me to check in with myself, to be real with myself, to stop acting like life isn’t hard.  Life is hard; it is demanding of all my being, to remain calm and aware of my own state of mind at any given time of any given day.

A few years ago I learned a lesson, a very important lesson; I’m not super woman.  I acted like it, somehow I pretended that life with 5 kids wasn’t demanding, that I could be everything to everyone in my family.  Mom’s often do have that complex, and often times life does revolve around mom. I’m going to talk about this aspect because it’s my experience, realizing that my experience is just that, mine.

I struggled many years after the realization that I wasn’t super-woman, to balance the idea of self-care and how that would look with young children. Taking time for oneself can many times seem selfish…and I suppose it is but there is a miscommunication, self care may be selfish but its a difficult practice.

I’ve heard the phrase, “if it’s easy, it’s not the right choice.” The right things in life are often the most difficult. Making changes in ones life, whether to be healthier, nicer, friendlier maybe less friendly. Change is against the norm, the norm means comfort, it means easy…but the norm for me was killing me, from the inside out.

I had to make a change. I had to look after myself. Self care remains, to this day, a difficult practice for me, in fact many times I have had to leave the province to somehow make this happen.  At this time in our life, I realize that I’ve fallen off the self care wagon. I’m trying to be all to everyone and I’m just not equipped this way.

Thank you to my friends and family who have reminded me directly and indirectly the need for this important practice.  That I’m a better mom, a better wife and a better person when I do the self-care dance.  Finances aren’t there to leave the province, although there is a cute little baby boy in Vancouver who I’d love to have the chance to meet, I’m trying to find new ways to practice this fine art of self care.

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What ways do you look after yourself?

Mustard Seed of Faith

small as a mustard seed

There have been many times in my life where this little verse has come to mind. I have come to know and experience its truth and the wonder of its reality in my life circumstances.  There are many things I do not understand about faith or what exactly it is because I’ve come to realize that faith is not a feeling, it is beyond that. You see there are times when I look at life, at what we’re experiencing that I feel no faith, in fact what I feel is doubt.  But faith is deeper than feeling,  It is knowledge, it is truth, it just is. And it is present within my doubt and is not changed by my doubt.

This week has rivaled many of the other difficult times in my life.  The loss of our first child, the diagnosis of autism in two of our children, the subsequent years of learning, fearing, crying, praying about what life may hold for them. Their departure from our home.  The early months of our younger children; watching their struggle, learning about what may come and realizing that some of those “what may” have come to pass.  Coming to the knowledge that mental health issues know no age limit and that life is fragile.

Faith in my life cannot be a feeling; feelings are fleeting and untrustworthy. I cannot trust that which is fleeting but I can and will trust in knowing that faith is for me, an act of breathing. It is something that has formed in the fabric of my being, I cannot think about it otherwise I may lose focus but if I trust that it can be, that it will be in place despite my lack of understanding, it frees to me process life away from feelings.

This week has been a week of breath prayers, of silent sighs and tears, of fear and trembling. It has been a week of not understanding life, how sin can be so destructive in our lives, even at such a young age. I have learned that my faith is an act of breathing because my mind has betrayed me. My mind serves to try and tear down that fabric and yet my faith remains.

I cannot make a mustard seed, my feeling do not change the fact that a mustard seed is a mustard seed. I believe that seed of faith is given to each of us.  I am thankful that no matter how I feel, my faith is secure. I breathe it, I live it, it encompasses me and holds me and carries me through life’s most challenging moments, the moments that we as a family are now living.

Titles and Labels

I’ve been open enough on my blog and in my everyday conversations that people know that we have two children with autism.  Our eldest Logan comes home for visits every Saturday, I go and pick him up.  Today there was a miscommunication and so I went and met him at the library.  Instead of making him miss one of his favourite places, we stayed at the library for a bit and I watched as our non verbal son, diagnosed with autism and global development delay conduct a search on google that would blow most people’s mind.

Logan started at the Google website.  He searched out Legends of the Guardians of the Ga’Hoole.  From there Logan proceeded very quickly through numerous pages of findings to find one specific video, only he wasn’t done there.  He scrolled to the end of that video where the video that he was searching for was.  He then fast forwarded that video to a specific spot, to the second, he watched 30 seconds of that video, and went back to the search page and scrolled through to page 25 of the google results to find the next video that he wanted to watch.  Which was highlighted at the end of another specific video.  This was literally done within one minute and a half, including the log on, the watching of the first video.

His labels or diagnosis, suggest that there isn’t much to his intelligence but watching him on the computer lends me to believe the exact opposite.  He’s quite intelligent and his memory is remarkable.  I’m always amazed by thing things that Logan can do. It’s made me look at labels as a means to get funding and help, but never as a way to explain WHO a person is.