Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, from our family to yours!

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Everyone here is excited that tomorrow is Christmas, and we are looking forward to all that the day will bring.

And I speak for all of us when I say that even though we wish we could celebrate as a family of 7 this year, we are doing good.  In fact, I’m jealous in a way that while we are celebrating Christ’s birth here… Ava gets to be with Jesus in heaven for Christmas this year, and it doesn’t get better than that.

Oh – and I’m excited to show you the birdy in the pic with the kids.  My uncle made it for us so that we can always include it in our family pics to show Ava’s place.  Isn’t that awesome?

It’s a beautiful Christmas eve here… the snow is falling and lots of Christmas lights are shining.  (Thanks Jason and Erik!)

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And I just wanted to make a quick shout out to all the nurses and dr’s who are working Christmas this year at Sick Kids.  We appreciated everyone in the CCU who took care of Ava (and Jason and I too) so well last December, we’ll never forget you.

Now, back to Christmas…

And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:16-20 ESV

Amen!

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Ava Day

I’m pleased to say we had a really nice Ava Day.  And to put everyone’s mind at rest, we didn’t spend the day in sadness…  I honestly didn’t miss her more on Wednesday than I already do.  We just wanted this day to be about celebrating Ava’s life and to make it a  little special for our kids and that’s what we did.

In the morning I had a visit from my special sweethearts – Aleeda and Britton… along with their mother Tanya as well of course.. haha.    Sarah was supposed to go to school but wanted to stay at home to see them, and when I saw her playing with the girls,  I knew I was never going to tear her away to send her back to school.    She loves them so much and in a way they are her surrogate little sister’s, so I’m glad she was able to spend them with them.  Aleeda and Britton are getting so big!

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Tanya and I had a nice visit too.  It’s still kinda seems weird hanging out with Tanya and the girls in our homes, especially after spending so much time together in Sick Kids waiting for hearts.   We used to sit outside the girls rooms in the hall of ward 4D and pretend it was our front porch.   The nurses would come by to chat and we had so many good times – it made the hard days bearable.    And it would be awesome if the nurses could still just drop by from time to time  to join Tanya and I, but I know they have work to do. 🙂   The nurses did make our Ava day extra special by sending me a whole envelope of paper birdy’s they cut out… we were so touched and the kids put them up all over the house to decorate for Ava day.

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The eyes are courtesy of Sarah – I think she drew them on each one, and there were lots.

We actually have a house full of Christmas birdies right now… I love it.

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And this birdy ornament…

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Oh so fitting, God does surround us by His grace.

My cousin emailed me and told me that whenever she sees a Christmas bird decoration she thinks of us and Ava…and I liked that.  I see bird’s now wherever I go and I don’t  remembering ever seeing them before.     We also received this special little bird from some friends…

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So sweet.   But it’s not only that these bird’s remind me of my own little Birdy – for us they are a symbol of God’s faithfulness.   A reminder that during such a difficult time,  He never once left us on our own, and gave us the grace and strength we needed every day.   And so now when we see birds, we remember.

OK – so I didn’t think we were going to go to Ava’s grave on Wednesday because by the time Jason would get home from work we would be visiting a cold and dark graveyard… not a chance.   But then Jason thought we could pick the kids up for lunch at school and go during their lunch-break, so that’s what we did.  We grabbed some food and headed out there, and we brought some things to decorate the Birdy rain-meter that I marked her grave with (cuz we haven’t picked a stone yet).

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The combination of decorations isn’t strictly beautiful, but it’s the thought that counts. 🙂

We corralled the kids for a photo…

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And then headed back.  And on the way home William said to us… “So, I hate to say it, but this was pretty boring.”   Oh dear… and what a riot.   Sorry William, I just couldn’t make visiting your sister’s grave on her birthday more interesting, but I guess next year I will try harder.   🙂

We wound up the day with cake and pizza and more friends and all in all it was a really nice Ava day.    I don’t have to say that it would have been 100 times better if we were actually celebrating a birthday with Ava, but I imagine that’s understood.

But I always have to keep coming back to where she is, rather than where she isn’t.    She’s fully alive in heaven…  my baby no longer, but a new creature who is fully aware of the glory of God.   In a place where there is no pain or sadness or death.  Praise God, she is more alive than we are.

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4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

So see… we do have something to celebrate on this Ava day, she is in an amazing place and we will see her again!!

Amen!

What a gift…

Well Christmas came a little early for our family today.   It all started when Jason and I were sitting in church this morning.    The sermon had ended and we were about to sing the final song when  Jason reminded me that last year on this Sunday we had gone up to the front after church and had been prayed for by our Pastor and Elder team as well as many friends before we left to go to Toronto the following day.   Oh wow… remembering that prayer time and what we had prayed for made me cry – as even then we were still hoping that God would reach down and heal Ava and spare her life.   So it’s a year later and we know now that healing Ava was not in God’s plan, and it’s sad because we miss her so much… and it’s hard not to think about what might have been.

So I was still a little sad after the service when I remembered that a dear friend had asked us to meet her between the services.  When Jason and I found  her, she led us around the corner to where a group of people were waiting – which was all very surprising – and low and behold they presented our family with the most amazing gift ever…  my entire blog posts of Ava’s life from start to finish put in photo books.   For real… every single blog entry and picture.  What an incredible gift and such a wonderful keepsake.

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Then the tears really came, but we all marvelled at God’s timing.  Just that this book had been in the works for so long, and they had hoped to give it to us before this week, but God knew that today was the day that I needed it most – just to show me once again that He is always faithful and cares about us so much.

And so we wanted to say a HUGE thank-you to Nancy who did all the work – and I’m sure it took weeks and weeks or even months of hard work to put it all together – we are eternally grateful.  And to all of our Harvest Family who made it possible, this gift means more to us that you’ll ever know.

And not only did Jason and I receive a set of photo books – Volume 1& 2 – but there was a set for each of our children – their very own keepsakes forever.   When we got home we were all sitting in our family room looking at our books and my heart was just over-come that we can go and read about Ava and look at her pictures whenever we want and that my kids will have these books to remember their sister by as she gets older.

Wasn’t that a marvelous way to start December?   The month where we start to look forward to Christmas  – the day we celebrate the birth of Christ… who came to give us the best gift we could ever receive… eternal life.

We are so blessed.   God is truly the giver of good gifts.

Amen.