Time and Faithfullness

Today is the third anniversary of Ava’s passing.  And I suppose that her death, like all our children’s births, will forever be etched into my memory.    But you know what,  I thank God that because of His incredible faithfulness, coupled with the passage of time,  we are healing.  Praise God we are healing!   And each day is one day closer to seeing Ava once again, and I am so thankful for that hope.    To see her again and then to spend eternity together in the presence of God.

But let’s be honest, this is three years later talking.  Loss is hard, we all know that.  It’s hard enough to lose little things that we like, but then there are also big things that we love, like children, or parents, or friends.   Even things like friendships, marriages, and possessions.   Even our dreams,  those things that we always thought would come to pass in our life sometimes are lost to us and it’s all so very hard.

And the truth is that by the time I lost Ava I wasn’t new to loss.   I’ve lost so many people I love it’s not funny.  A cousin, a very dear friend, siblings of friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents;  like so many others, I’ve been to more funerals of people who I loved that I care to count.  And praise God I can still carry on.  But have I learned anything from loss?  What has it taught me?

Well here is just a bit of what I’m learning and it’s becoming clear that God’s views on loss are very  different from mine.    Now Jesus wept when he experienced the loss of his friend, so we know that it’s good to grieve.  In fact, grief is a God-given emotion given to us for the purpose of letting go of the things that we love.  (I’ve always loved that tidbit, gleaned from this book “Good and Angry” https://www.biblicalparenting.org/r-goodandangry.asp ) So we need to grieve our loss… we have too.  And I remember one of the nurses of the PACT team in Toronto telling me that we often will say that things make us upset,  when the reality is that the hurt was already inside us and that thing was just a catalyst that allowed that hurt to come out.  And I love that.   I’ve told my kids that a lot when they would see me cry about Ava and they would get worried.  I hope it reassured them to hear me say that a certain song wasn’t making me upset – I was already upset, the song just helped me let go of a little more of the hurt in my heart.

But I’ve also learned that I need to hold on lightly to the things here on earth.  Not only because the things here on earth are temporal, but God has told us that this isn’t where our focus or our treasure is to be.  (Matt 6:19-20)   In fact Paul actually says in Philippians 3:8 that he counts everything as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ!  Then he says he has lost all things and counts them rubbish!  Rubbish!  I see that Paul understood something that I am only starting to see… that the things or even the people who I hold dear down here on earth, the things that can be taken away from me, aren’t the things that allow me to enjoy God in all his fullness and glory.  In fact, they are all things that typically distract me, and often pull me away from God.

Not that I lost Ava because she was a distraction, of course not!  But I know that living down here in a sinful and fallen world means I’m prey to the hurt and the pain that comes to us all.  Doesn’t the Bible teach that the rain falls on the good and the bad?   No one is immune to it and I think that’s the point I’m trying to make.  We often treat loss like it’s the worst thing that happened to us, and it’s so unfair, and that maybe God doesn’t care, when in fact, it might actually be a growth point in our life.  It might be that thing that sends you to your knees and strengthens your relationship on God, or sets your mind and your focus to eternity and gets your focus off of temporal and earthly things.

Jason and I have said over and over again, we would never go back.  Losing Ava was so very hard, but when we take into account the work that God has done in our lives, how he changed us and stretched us and grew us and how we had a first row seat to watching His faithfulness and mercy… well we can say with full hearts, we would do it all again.

So what did the loss of Ava teach me?  It taught me that God is in control and that He does have a plan, and nothing can happen to me that is outside His plan.  And the best part is that He is all my soul really longs for.  He is the only thing that will ever satisfy and bring me joy.  And because of this, no matter what He gives and what takes away,  I will be OK.

Praise God.

In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

Advertisements

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.

DSC_0692

DSC_0693

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.

Together Again

Praise God our family is together again!  I went and saw Ava in the hospital Saturday morning and then hopped on a train around noon and  was home before 3 pm.   It was fantastic to be home, but bitter-sweet too because a part of me just didn’t want to leave, and was just wishing that we were all home together – with Ava – to stay.

But we started packing up and when Sunday morning dawned Jason and I both felt that we should go to church.  We technically didn’t have the time to go to church if we were going to leave nice and early for Toronto, but really didn’t have the time NOT to go to church, you know what I mean?    So we went, and were incredibly blessed by our Pastor Norm’s sermon.  The sermon was on living by faith, how appropriate!    And we were reminded once again, that we can’t live for God without faith, and without faith it’s impossible to please God.  A fantastic verse that feels like it’s just for us is…

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Oh blessed assurance.  God has not forgotten us, and we knew then why God had been calling us to church,  He wanted to encourage us, remind us that we can’t walk this journey on our own, and to keep walking in faith – even when things don’t make sense and we don’t understand.  And like Norm said,  God is still good even when everything that is happening seems not good.  Praise God that He is good.

And one example of how good God is… poor little Ava has an IV, and that’s how she’s been getting her heart meds.   But IV’s don’t last long on a baby like Ava who doesn’t have good veins – and last night it was in her foot, but when I came in this morning it had been changed to her hand;  and I knew instinctively that it was hurting her.  She was unhappy and unsettled and I know Ava and I knew that she was in pain.

The nurse looked at it and thought that it was a good line, but blood kept backing up into it and thankfully our nurse practioner told the nurse to get the IV team back up to look at it.  They came, and thought it was a good line,  but as they were checking it, I was at the foot of Ava’s bed praying that God would be gracious and make it clear to them what the problem was.    And then when they removing the bandages to get a better look…  oops, the IV came out!!   Praise God!   And before they could put another in, the NP and the cardiologist made a quick decision to take Ava off the IV heart meds, and try oral one’s instead – so that means no more IV’s, at least for now.

So today was a good day without any new developments.     Jason and the kids came up and got to see Ava again, and even though Ava wasn’t feeling her best today,  it was so nice to see the kids excited to see their sister again and Jason and I are just so happy that our family can be together again.

Ruin my life

Oh these crazy followers of Jesus Christ, and the crazy songs that they choose to sing!

Why would anyone sing a song asking God to ruin their life?  Talk about very scary stuff.    And to be honest when we first started singing this song at church I was a little bothered, thinking that I’m not singing that,  I like my life just how I like it, thank-you!

But then we got pregnant with number 5 – that huge surprise.  And we sang the song again at church on that first Sunday after and I cried.  NOT that I was thinking that God was in the process of ruining my life per-see… but that His plans were clearly not my plans.. here’s what we sang…

Woe to me I am unclean
A sinner found in Your presence
I see you seated on Your throne
Exalted, Your Glory surrounds You

And the plans that I have made, fail to compare, when I see your glory…

Ruin my life  – the plans I have made
Ruin desires for my own selfish gain
Destroy the idols that have taken Your place
‘Till its You alone I live for, 
You alone I live for.

Holy Holy is the Lord Almighty 
Holy is the Lord! 

Holy Holy is the Lord Almighty 
Holy is the Lord!   ( Jeff Johnson)

And so it’s kinda become Jason and my theme song through this whole pregnancy situation if you will.    We do now feel in a way like life as we know it has been ruined, I know whatever the outcome of this pregnancy is, we will have been changed forever.   But the amazing part it, we will have been changed for the better.

God is taking hold of our lives.   And even though I cling and I fight and I cry and occasionally think about how my life would look if none of this happened,  I can see that striping all the external stuff away, letting go of all my plans of how I thought things would turn out,  and just focusing on God and doing my best to be obedient and having faith in Him is so incredibly beautiful and rewarding.

There is an amazing sense of peace that God has given me as my time gets closer (thanks for praying everyone!) and I know that any strength I have has come from him.     And we can know for certain that this is His plan and His alone because He has taken such incredible care of us through the past months,  which brings me so much joy because I can know that I don’t have to worry about one minute of one day going forward, He is going before us and will take care of us.

And in this world where the biggest thing seems to be control…where we feel like we always need to be in control…  just know it’s all a sham.  We have so little control.    But don’t despair,   when God starts to move and plans and lives start to be ruined,  it doesn’t have to be negative, just cling to Him and move with him and it can truly be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Amen.

A Due Date and a Pumpkin Latte

We have a due date!    I will be induced December 4 in Toronto at Mt. Sinai and I’m really hoping that will actually be the day because it was my grandma’s birthday.  It’s always kinda neat to have a little tie-in like that.  And when I got off the phone with our coordinator at Mt. Sinai last week after she gave me this date, I was initially very excited,  like I would have been if I had been given due dates for my other pregnancies (hate that going over-due stuff) but then it hit me…  December 4th is when reality is going to be faced, for better or for worse.  It’s rather daunting.

But the day our little girl will be born will also be the day I’ll finally get to  meet our little ‘Birdy’ and for that I am very very excited.    I feel I know her so much better than our other baby’s before they were born, big surprise right?  And she even has a name which the other kids can’t boast of.  They were lucky to be named in the delivery room.  I’m not quite ready to share her name with the whole world yet, there has to be SOME surprise to her birth, but for now we are calling her Birdy and I just feel it’s very fitting – especially considering how active she is.   Although last night after reading Sophia a book about a little penguin,  she was pretty sure we should start calling the baby “little penguin” and that’s what she called her all day today.   Oh well, sigh….

And again,  worry tends to creep its way in when I think about what things will look like when I’m away from my family. So whenever those thoughts and anxiety come, I’m just constantly giving it over to God… which sometimes I have to do 20 times a day, but I’m learning and God is being very gracious to me through all this.

A few posts back I posted a story about God’s faithfulness in the lives of a family who have a daughter with Turners and lost another daughter to a genetic syndrome, it was quite the story.  Well I emailed Sara, who is the mom and she replied and gave me this verse which she has posted up and I just love it.  It’s perfect for where we are at.

The Lord is the One who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

It just makes me weep (with joy) knowing that God is going ahead and preparing the way for us.  I’m sure our path won’t  be smooth, but He will know what we will be facing with every step of the way, even when we don’t.   How amazing and wonderful.

OK – so yes,  that an update on my other life.  Back to my ordinary life…  Jason brought these sweatshirts home from work the kids last week.

They were thrilled and we of course like to do our marketing bit for the company Jason works for… especially as he has a great job and a great boss.

And in my opinion the kids look so cute all dressed the same, I’m trying to figure out how I can do it more often.  So far nothing is coming to mind.   Cute even with the eye roll…

And then one night last week I got together with a bunch of my friends (who are also all my neighbours – how lucky can a girl get?) for an evening to hang out and enjoy each other’s company while eating yummy things.  My good friend Angie down the street made this… a delicious pumpkin latte..

Which provided me all the caffeine I needed and more to enjoy myself until 1:00 am…  way past my bedtime.    But even though I kinda paid for it by feeling rather tired for the next few days, it was worth it.   We laughed and we cried and after 5 hours of non-stop talking we decided we really should get together more often.    It’s so wonderful to have great friends that only live a few door down from you,  we are definitely blessed to live where we do.

So now this week is almost coming to a close and that means one more week closer to my due-date,  still five weeks and a bit.  And I go visit my OB in London tomorrow to see how little Birdy is doing and if she is growing… I’ll keep you posted!

A story of God’s faithfulness…

Our pastor Norm sent this video clip to us today.  He found it and then thought of us, but this family has had so much more to bear.    Their oldest daughter is 6 and is living with Turner’s Syndrome with many health issues, and then they have two healthy daughters and then their 4th daughter Ava just passed away this year at the age of one.

And the video is sad, and it made me cry.  But what makes it worth is seeing is how a family that should be coming apart at the seams is instead talking about how good God is and how His strength is what is making the difference.

And it’s hard to watch the difficult things that people have to go through… but thankfully when those people are trusting God it’s not just a sad story anymore, it’s transformed into an amazing reminder of God’s faithfulness.

It’s definitely worth watching!