A quick smile amidst the packing...

We head out tomorrow on an afternoon flight. Hopefully I'll be able to update this next weekend after Leana's pre-op appointment. 

Remembering back...

My mind can't help but wander back six months ago, and recall the first time we were asked to trust the Lord with the health of our little daughter. 

I was immensely enjoying those first few weeks of motherhood, and life couldn't have seemed more perfect. That perfection felt shattered one afternoon when the phone rang, and the caller announced herself as a Genetic Counselor from the Health Science Center in Winnipeg. She was calling to inform us of some abnormal blood results they had received from Leana's newborn screening, and proceeded to apologize for having to be the bearer of such serious news. The results seemed to indicate a possibility of PKU, which I had only vaguely heard of in the past. 

We were scheduled for extensive blood work and a urinalysis with her just days later, and in the meantime, I was left to find out and study up on what this strange sounding disease was. What I discovered was both comforting and distraughting at the same time. While PKU was not curable, it was treatable, but required an over-the-top lifetime strict diet of virtually no forms of protein, and a formula supplement as the blood defect prevented naturally occurring protein to digest as food. That's a very short, uncomplicated explanation. Look it up yourself if you want more details. :-)

Days later, I was in the lab at our local hospital with my two-week old, while three nurses tried unsuccessfully for an hour-and-a-half to get a needle into her tiny veins to draw the massive amount of blood necessary for all her tests. This all had to be done on a fasting stomach, and I won't even try to explain what a wreck we both were after all those pokes that were accomplishing nothing.

Finally, they called in a specialist that had training in pediatrics, and within half-an-hour, all the required blood was drawn. Leana, utterly exhausted at this point with all her crying, fell into a deep sleep for nearly the rest of the day. 

It wasn't very reassuring for me to hear that the nurses at the hospital rarely had to do this type of blood-work, and that Leana's doctor had never had a patient with this particular blood test come back with abnormalities. We waited on pins and needles the next few weeks to hear what the results would be. 

In the meantime, I can't express how supportive our church was, and how much peace the Lord granted after the prayer service they held there for her. I felt as if I had never before been filled with so much faith for her healing, and God's care over her. Circumstances would try that assurance over the next month, but I can honestly testify that God kept my heart at such rest after that service. 

A few weeks later we received a phone call on her results, saying that the original protein they were testing came back just fine, but a different one was now elevated. They wanted her put on high dosages of Vitamin C, and then get the blood work redone. Thankfully, that second round was just a heel-poke, and not nearly as traumatic on me and Leana.

Again, it was a waiting game, but the peace and assurance that filled both Joel and my heart's did not waver. It was an experience I had never had before, and I just give it as a testimony that God's grace is there right when we need it most. That's something I need to keep reminding myself of when I think of Leana's upcoming surgery.

Despite the scare with the second call for blood-work, we did not feel surprised when, a few weeks later, the results of that second set of tests came back perfectly clear. Some will tell us that false positives are quite common with these types of tests, and I acknowledge that may have been the case. In my heart, though, I believe God heard the prayers of the saints, and touched our daughter with His healing hand. However He chose to do it is not for me to determine, but I pray I will never forget the lessons on trust and faith He taught me during that time. 

This incident is a good one for me to remember now. Many prayers have gone up on behalf of Leana's heart, and whether God chooses to heal her in the same way is His business. Regardless of the outcome, we have no doubts whatsoever that He is doing a work in our hearts through it. I don't think we'll ever be able to look back on this season as being easy, but I trust we will be able to call it good. 

Journal pages have been filled to the brim lately with my questions, tears, prayers, and struggles. I can praise the Lord, though, that they have also been filled with a measure of faith, as God keeps reminding me that He is on the throne, He is love, and He is always, always good

Good afternoon!

The Destiny of a Nation

Showing off her first tooth, and the second one ALMOST through!

The destiny of America lies around the hearthstone. If thrift and industry are taught there; if the example of self-sacrifice oft appears; if honor abide there, and high ideals; if there the building of fortune be subordinate to the building of character - America will live in security, rejoicing in an abundant prosperity and good government at home, and peace, respect and confidence abound. Look well, then, to the hearthstone; herein all hope for America lies. 

But, the hearthstone is an emblem. Beside it is enthroned the mother. It is the symbol of the Empire of Motherhood. The Creator lays the next generation in the lap of the mother; and we have high warrant for the belief that "the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world."

When God wants an important thing done in this world, or a wrong righted, He goes about it in a very singular way. He doesn't release His thunderbolts nor stir up his earthquakes. He simply has a tiny, helpless baby born, perhaps in a very obscure home, perhaps of a very humble mother. And He puts the idea or purpose into a mother's heart. And she puts it in the baby's mind, and then - God waits!

-President Calvin Coolidge

The aftermath of a true, Manitoba blizzard

After getting snowed in two nights at Joel's parent's house, this is what we came home to. Unreal! I don't think I've ever seen snow like this in my life!

The street adjacent to ours. 

Someone had already opened our driveway for us. These are the drifts left!

There are drifts like this all the way around our house and shed. 

It took a lot of hours of shoveling to clear this snow from our deck. 

Our neighbor's house and their car for perspective. 

A Reason to Celebrate

Valentine's Day. It was never a Holiday I payed much attention to growing up, good or bad. Sure, I couldn't help but notice all the hearts, flowers, cards and chocolate being advertised everywhere, but it was not something I pined after, nor celebrated. It was just, well, you know...another day!

Then I met Joel. Along with many other things in my life turning upside down, (or should I say right-side-up) came a new appreciation for this day. Hey, even though you could technically do it any day, who doesn't want an excuse to spend a romantic evening with the love-of-your-life! 

So, along rolls 2013, and the  combination of a slow week and the need to keep my mind off of other things, I decided to go all out with a fancy, restaurant quality, four-course meal. That shopping trip was fun! Though I cringed a bit at the grocery bill, I was pleased with myself for finding everything I wanted for decorations at the Dollar and Thrift store. Imagine my elation a few days later when a friend offers to lend me a fancy, romantic-themed dinnerware set. Coupled with some pink taper candles and crystal holders I received as a bridal shower gift, flowers from my honey, and framed pictures of us, I had a set-up I dare any restaurant to rival, at least on a personal level, that is!

We enjoyed leisurely eating our appetizers, sipping our drinks, opening cards, and reflecting on how blessed the last 2-1/2 years have been that we've known each other. The candles glimmered, texting was shut off, the background music was set to our favorite love songs, and our little treasure played sweetly in her exersaucer next to us. Being a family was savoured to the fullest

Warmed Brie with a berry and toasted almond topping. 

Chocolate covered strawberries and bacon wrapped
 BBQ mushrooms.
Joel went to go throw our steaks on the grill, (Yes, in Subzero temps!) and I got the second course ready. Joel's favorite 'French Onion Soup' went under the broiler to brown the cheese, and I drizzled the sweet vinaigrette over our spinach, strawberry, toasted almond salads. The steaks came off right as these were finished, so we just decided to eat them all together!

By the time we were finished, we were too stuffed to think about dessert, so we decided to proceed with the rest of the plans for our evening. Leana was dropped off at the neighbor's, (the first time for us to leave her!) and Joel and I strapped on our skates and headed for an hour of good ole' fashioned ice skating at the new rink in town. I had been dying to get out and enjoy a winter activity at least once this year, and it was the perfect opportunity. Sweaty, sore, tired, but happy, we picked up Leana, and headed inside to finish off the evening with dessert and an exhausted crash into bed.

As I lay there drifting off to sleep, I thanked the Lord for the gift He has given me in the strong, steady man by my side. God knew exactly what I needed, and how Joel's strengths would perfectly complement my weaknesses. Beside being my best friend and the love-of-my-life, we are team-mates in this journey called life. Arm in arm, we face the joy and trials of life together, traveling onward toward that same goal. What's not to celebrate about that!

A Peek Into My Journey

This morning, I watched a video clip created by a family that lost their unborn 31-week old son to a genetic defect. Probably not a smart thing to do at this season in my life.

I'll admit, tears streamed down my face, and for a moment, my soul cried out "no" to God. Anything but that. Then the truth of what I was saying hit me like a ton of bricks.

I don't want suffering.

I don't want heartache. 

I don't want loss to touch my life, especially when it concerns those I love most. 

I want to be in control and keep my life in a neat, happy, comfortable little package. 

I fear brokeness, and I fear the path that leads to it. 

At the same time, my heart craves Christlikeness, but says, "Lord, please don't bring it by taking my husband or children." 

Almost like an outsider looking in on my life, I can recognize what God is seeking to do in my heart. I know He's calling me to a deeper surrender, a greater faith, and a clinging and dependence on Him unlike anything I've been forced to do before. This call to lay my daughter unreservedly in the hands of my Heavenly Father, acknowledging that HE has the right to do with her whatever He chooses is going to be a journey for me.

I'm not going to pretend I'm some super spiritual wife and mom and say I'm there yet. But, by God's grace, I'm willing to be brought to that point. I'm willing for God to create in me that heart of complete trust and surrender that I can't produce. I'm willing for Him to make me willing, and to gently lead me down this path He's calling me to.

Though I haven't arrived at that place yet, somehow, I have this assurance that my willingness is all that really matters to Him now.

Happy Valentine's Day!

To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial.
To me known and not loved is our greatest fear.
But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us during difficulty life can throw at us. - Timothy Keller.

"That they may teach the younger women..."

For the second time in her short, 6-months of energetic life, I left my little daughter in the hands of her capable Daddy for a mom's get-together at a friend's house a mere couple blocks from our own. With nutella cupcakes, and a three-tier dessert tray in hand, I got there a couple minutes early to help the hostess set up. I felt rather talkative and energetic that evening, happy to get out after several days cooped up at home with a baby I was protecting from the many bugs floating rampant in our circles.

My talkativeness shut down pretty quickly once a few guests started arriving that I didn't know very well, and more noticeably, when the reason for the gathering arrived. As the middle-aged mom of seven stepped into the living room, I wondered why I had been invited at all. HER visit to the area from out of province was the reason for these dozen ladies gathering, and I had only briefly met her once, just a short couple weeks after Joel and I had returned to Canada from our honeymoon. As her eyes fell on me,  she gracefully stepped over to give me a warm hug, and I somehow felt glad to be there, though not exactly comfortable yet.

I positioned myself in a corner chair, rocking back and forth, my arms feeling strangely empty as I wished for my baby to cuddle and occupy me. I was told this gathering was primarily for visiting with O., but as she suggested we start the evening out with prayer, I started wondering what the evening would all entail. As her gentle, Russian accent filled the room, I was struck with the sense that I was sitting the presence of a woman who was no stranger to close communion with God.

As the evening progressed, she led out in a sharing time and devotional. Honest, candid, gentle, with eyes sparkling with life and joy, I felt a twinge of regret that I never had the opportunity to get to know her. She spoke openly of the joys and struggles of the last year-and-a-half since she had visited the area, and wanted to hear what the Lord was doing in our lives. As the ladies shared, a common theme started emerging - that of dying to self, our plans, and our desire to control life according to our dreams and expectations. We talked of the things we loved most - our husband and children, and how they too needed to be placed upon the altar of complete surrender.

As I sat, absorbing this all in, I was being blessed. I remained completely silent, a part of it all in my spirit, yet fearing the vulnerability of my own current emotions. This dying to self and to control hit close to my heart. I thought of my little daughter sleeping sweetly at home, and her upcoming surgery and all the unknowns and fears I was battling with. I wondered exactly how God was going to bring me to that place of completely laying her in the hands of the Lord - wanting HIS glory and best above all else.

As this informal time of sharing came to a close, my ponderings continued as I sipped my coffee and nibbled on chocolate. All of a sudden, O. was at my side, explaining how she had heard of Leana's heart condition, and was wondering how I was doing. For the next 15 minutes, we chatted back and forth, me admitting some of my fears and what I felt the Lord was trying to teach me, and she imparting not only a listening ear, but jewels of wisdom, encouragement, counsel, and promises of prayer.

I lingered that evening until the clock was threatening an hour till midnight. Gratefulness and hope filled my heart, and I breathed a prayer of Thanksgiving for an evening of refreshing the Lord knew I needed. I went home not only encouraged, but with a new desire kindled in my heart. It's one I've heard expressed often by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, but was never able to relate with until then. "Oh Lord, to be a godly older woman."

To experience firsthand the typification of what I believe Titus was speaking of in his second chapter was something I find to be fairly rare these days. Aside from a dear older mentor-friend I've had for years, I could count on one hand the older women who have taken the time to invest in my life - even if just for a few minutes. What a refreshment and encouragement those few have been though!

To be a godly older woman begins with choices now. Choices to spend time at the throne of grace, learning to know and hear the voice of my King. Choices to spend my life investing in others, rather than in temporal, selfish pursuits. Choices to reach out to, and involve myself NOW in the lives of that younger generation of wives and mothers coming up. Choices to love others unconditionally, trust my Lord unreservedly, and pray unceasingly for opportunities for the life of Christ to live and breath through me.

"Yes, Lord, make me a godly older woman..."

6 Months Old!

This is one Daddy that LOVES his little girl!

And what a big girl she's getting to be!
Highlights from this month:

  • Another bad cold for this month. Lots of bugs going around in our area!
  • Rolling from stomach to back. 
  • First visit to Ontario.
  • Sucking her toes.
  • Giving out kisses to people!
  • Discovered that her heart murmur is because of a large hole. Very sad day when we learned she would be needing open heart surgery.
  • First belly-laughs. 
  • First two teeth!

All Things... Pt. 3

As I tried to wrap my mind around the fact that we would be leaving in four days, and that my little daughter would be facing a major surgery in under a week, I was left emotionally reeling. I think I spent the majority of that day on the phone informing people, changing appointments and plans, and trying to sort out the hundreds of small details that needed to be figured out in such a short time. A two-week trip  with just a couple days notice, coupled with an entire weekend of special meetings at church left me feeling rather overwhelmed. 

That Sunday at church I felt my "brave girl" front slowly melting away as I actually had time to slow down and think a little bit. As the first song started, my emotions gave way, choking tears prevented any words from escaping, but I soaked in the words as the palatable worship rose around me. 

He lowers us to raise us
So we can sing His praises
Whatever is His way all is well

He makes us rich and poor
That we might trust Him more
Whatever is His way all is well

All my changes come from Him
 He who never changes
I'm held firm in the grasp of the Rock of all the ages

All is well with my soul
He is God in control
I know not all His plans
But I know I'm in His hands

He clothes us now then strips us
Yet with His Word equips us
Whatever is His way all is well
And though our seasons change
We still exalt His name
Whatever is His way all is well

Though I knew I would have to do it over and over again, I placed my daughter in God's hands that morning, and chose to believe that whatever happened, all would be well. Why? Because we serve a good God, and His goodness never changes. This is where my faith needs to be placed.

That night was an interrupted one for me as Leana was up for much of it with a bad cough. This concerned me, and my concerns were confirmed with the surgery coordinator the next day. Leana's surgery would have to be postponed. This has been a disappointment for us as we now only have another month to dread the inevitable, but at the same time, we are grateful that they are taking her health and well-being first. 

We are so grateful for our Lord that is holding us up during this time, and for the amazing support, love, and prayers of countless friends. Though I realize our girlie could be facing a lot worse and that we have much to be grateful for, the emotions are still real, and it had been wonderful to have the encouragement of so many! Thank you so much, and we will seek to keep you updated. 

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