Friday, May 29, 2015

group tug

Last week, Em and Soph participated in their school's annual field day. I loved watching the kids go from event to event in their mixed grades groups with the Grade 8s as team leaders. I was proud of my kids' achievements, but I was also proud of the student body as I witnessed encouragement in the competitions - a collective effort to seek personal best.

My favourite part? The tug o' war.  Suddenly the kid who can't run the fastest is the optimal player because of his strength. And the kid who felt like she couldn't do anything really well was needed to pull with her team - and the cheers from the crowd were thrilling.

Tug of war is something that has been played for centuries, an ancient game that tests strength, endurance, and resilience. Some ancient myths talk about the sun and moon playing tug of war -of light pulling against darkness.

And if you've ever tugged with a team, you know that the rhythm of working together is as important -if not more important- than the strength of the individual mates.

It's not hard to see that parallel with living...

Ralph and I had our date night at the Indwell dinner last night. We heard some incredible stories of hope that reminded me of another kind of tugging... the battle for dignity in living. Indwell works to help people leave behind homelessness, find affordable housing, and support for the daily trials that come with mental illness and painful memories. This is a pic of my sister Jess (on the right) and Nicole. Nicole shared her story of leaving behind homelessness and shelter hopping to her current life of independent living in a safe and supportive community. When an organization can motivate others to renovate abandoned or rundown buildings to create affordable housing for those who have no home, the parallel is obvious - restored buildings for restored souls. My sister Jess works with Indwell, an organization that is a tug of war with people like Nicole, pulling against the forces that threaten dignity, beauty, and life. Check it out:

 And this tug of war in our family - the one where we are pulling against the forces that threaten to discourage us as we take care of our kids. I find that we are often living with anticipated discouragement.  Will today hold good health - or another fever? It's a tug of war with the heart on trying to find joy even if things don't go as planned.  Once again, Rachel is battling pain issues; today she's home with a fever. We know that she will need another surgery to stitch up a fistula that seems to have developed in her stomach lining from the old g-tube site. We also know that something isn't quite right in her plumbing - but we have a super nephrologist pulling with us. His office called this week to say they consulted with the urology and radiology folks to agree on some testing that might help us understand how to help.

That tug of war image from the girls' field day hasn't left me... I am reminded once again we are not alone. No one should be alone. Even if the rhythm isn't quite right with the people that are trying to help, we can't give up working together.  Sometimes the working together part is intimidating as we challenge each other not to be complacent.  Sometimes the working together part is messy because we have to hold each other accountable to what it means to live and act in communion with each other. Christ challenges us to love through that awkward rhythm because His love trumps all brokenness.

This morning, I glanced at the daily prayer in my devo which asks us to expand "our capacity to suffer with others and for an expanding generosity of heart."  I love that. Words to live by. Words to act on.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

For those 18 inches

If it's true...that 18 inches is the distance between your heart and head, then here are pics from that so called space of mine as of late.  (Postscript - video link for a snippet of Em and Soph's Annie performance here)


The annual radiothon to support the Niagara Children's Centre started on May 1 (click here for the girls' fundraising page). Rachel and Janneke attended the kickoff day and patiently waited while I spoke on their behalf to the crowd of folks gathered. As I stood at the podium with Rachel to my right and Janneke to my left, it was noted that as I spoke, Rachel shook her hands. When I paused, she paused. This led some to believe that Rachel was signing my words. Imagine if! Meanwhile, Janneke rocked so hard back and forth in her chair that she moved from the podium to the side wall...with the brake applied. I guess she's not one for crowds.


Our Rachel had her 9th birthday!  When she had her first birthday, we were thrilled that she had made it to one year. Now it's 9 years... wow. Dear Rachel, what do you think of that? We invited some familiar faces over to celebrate and eat her cake.  As it is with birthdays for both Rachel and Janneke, we sort through bittersweet feelings, feelings of joy mixed with sadness and with fear for the future. Happy Birthday, Ray of Sunshine.


In light of Nurses Week last week, these two photos partially explain why I love have a nurse help out in our home. I can't do ordinary mom things without that daily support. I get to help with homework (!) and spend time with the older girls outside. And take our goat, for a walk. 


Our soft and fluffy Luna had a major shave.  After pulling too many ticks out of her hair, it was decided she needed a visit to the groomer. Sophia was not the only one sad to greet the skinny goat-like dog after school that day. Winter coats aren't so cool in summer, so it's probably for the best.


Love me a school that believes every child is an artist.  We recently celebrated at the annual Niagara Children's Centre School Art Show.

Rachel's message about her pinky painting was communicated to those gathered at the art show through her sequencer button and a book that described her piece.

And reminiscent of her desire to stay away from crowds at the radiothon kickoff, this is Janneke during the art show presentation.... staring out the window at the lovely day outside. How typical.


Though I like to give the older girls a bit of privacy on this blog, I need to share at least one photo from their roles as orphans in the school play Annie Jr. (They are pictured with cousin Willa, a fan.) They were fabulous in their roles, with Emily as the mean orphan picking on Sophia, the littlest orphan. Bit of a stretch for them, but they stepped into their roles splendidly.  What was also great about the performance was the rapt attention both Rachel and Janneke gave when they attended the show. It's a first for both girls to sit for the whole play without crying or melting.


These pics are from a recent fitting we had to find the right gait harness for Rachel. She loved the change of position!  She deals with chronic pain on a daily basis that seems to interfere with so many ideas of fun for her, so this joyful moment was particularly sweet.

Though I'm not exactly a fan of Mothers' Day,  I did appreciate the flowers that Janneke worked hard to cultivate for the occasion. The day itself was marked as "one of those days" when one of the kids soils the hammock while the dog is eating fertilizer while the feed pump is spilling formula onto the deck while the supper is getting crispier than necessary in the oven - and all you can do is laugh. Carpe diem and pass the cleaning spray.

So, we keep going at this, making lemonade and seeing the liquid sunshine when we are tempted to see lemons and pouring rain. Life is good. Change of seasons is good.