Monday, December 26, 2011

Light up my life

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope that it was as amazing as mine and can only hope that you were as filled with love, joy, hope and peace as I was. I can only hope that it filled you with as much light too.
The final advent candle, advent theme, is light...the light of Christ. The candle is often called the Christ candle and before this year I had really never given that any thought. But then again, until this year, I had never really given much of anything in Advent much of a thought and had never given Christ in my life much of a thought either.
But this year was different for so many reasons. This year I was in a new church, surrounded by candle light, radiant images and amazing new friends (and of course a very wiggly, very loud, very energetic Cameron!!!). This year I found myself mesmerized by the flickering flame of the candle and very absorbed by what the light of Christ really means and what Christmas really means.
I've always been someone who said that we need to celebrate 'the reason for the season', I've always been driven crazy by people that want to change this time of year to 'winterfest', who want us to say 'happy holidays' and who have a 'holiday tree'. I've always known that CHRIST is the first word in Christmas and I've always thought about celebrating Christmas because of the birth of Jesus. I've even been able to well comprehend (or so I thought) that Christ is the light of the world. But this year the Christ candle wasn't just something we light on Christmas eve, the light wasn't just something that flowed from the wreath, the tree. This year that image of Christ's light was totally different.

This year I realized that Christmas is, obviously, not about presents or Christmas trees or Santa. It's not about dinners and time with family and friends (thought those are wonderful). It's not just about Jesus being born in that cold stable to a mother who was a virgin, to an earthly father who, despite knowing that this was not what he ever imagined his life would be and not really want he wanted to do with this woman he was to marry committed to being there for this infant child. It's not just about the miracle of this birth, a baby sent from God the Father. It's not JUST that.
It's about what this birth means, what was given to us in this birth...the light that the world was given through the birth of our saviour. The birth of our saviour...what a term. I mean, how many times have you used it, sang it, said it and seen it written. For me, it was just part of what I said at Christmas but now, well now it is something that just amazes me, brings me hope and makes me want to cry tears of joy for the wonderment of this gift.
God gave us the best Christmas present ever. He gave us a baby that would grow up to teach the world and to change the world. He gave us His son, knowing that this child would grow to be a man who would not live an easy life but who would build a legacy. He gave us His son knowing that man would eventually kill His child. He knowingly brought this baby into the world to die.
But what a death that would be. A death that erases all of our sin, a death that brings us to the Lord. That little baby wasn't just someone who was going to change the way that we thought of God, he wasn't just a baby who would change the world's thinking. He was a baby that would do all these things and then, when the time came for man to fear the changes this baby who had grown to be a powerful teacher brought, the power that he had over all who believed in him and his father, he would willingly die to further teach these people. He gave his life so that we could be forever forgiven of our sins. He gave his life so that we could have eternal life by simply admitting that he is the son of God, that he gave his life for us, that he is our Saviour and by asking for forgiveness for these sins and for Christ to live in our hearts and in our lives.
Christmas for me, now , means so much more than just his birth and the celebration of it. I always got that part, I always understood Christmas to be the celebration of the birth of baby Jesus. But now I get that it is the celebration of the birth of change, of a gift greater than anything imaginable. It is the celebration of the love of a wondrous God, the celebration of a joy that fills the earth. It is the celebration of the hope that our lives have great purpose even during the times that we are so unsure, so burdened. The celebration of a hope for eternal life, of salvation. It is the celebration of a peace that fills us when we know that we have this gift, this love, joy and hope. A peace that fills us when we know that we are a forgiven people because Christ loved us so much.
Christmas will never be the same for me again because I get it now, I get how amazing this gift really is.

May this light fill your life, may the love of Christ, the joy of the spirit, the hope for tomorrow and the peace that fills your heart fill you with light.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

And last

I've thought a lot about how I want to end this last entry for this project I took on. I am actually not entirely sure this is the last one as I thought I might blog about the light of Christ, the Christ candle is the last candle light in some faith practices. Regardless how to blog about last. I decided to pull from two blog entries from all most one year ago as that was where this peace I have felt for the last year began to happen. I am so much further ahead from even then and I know that the thanks for that falls entirely at the feet of our Lord. He has done this for me and I am so amazed by everything that has happened in my life in the last year. Anyway...

One more comforting thing I want to share. It’s personal and completely about Cole. Well not completely. I wanted to share about my intense feelings of things being okay and being at the greatest place of peace I have ever felt since he passed away. The reason... Brian, my friend who passed away a few weeks ago. Recently I have been feeling such an intense sense of calmness and peace when it comes to Cole and I really believe that is because I believe that Brian is looking after Cole...and maybe Cole is looking after Brian too. I think that in my heart I just needed to know that Cole was being looked after in Heaven, wherever that may be. That someone was stepping into the role of parent and raising my son for me. I know that God is there for him, but let’s be honest, He’s got a lot on his plate. I am sure that God has many great parents up there for Cole but it brings me great comfort to know that one of my friends will be giving the love that he had for his kids here on earth and doing the amazing job he did as Dad to them to my son. As much as it makes me so very sad that Cole will spend his life away from me and that Brian will not be there to see his kids grow up, it also makes me feel very much at peace to know that he is there for Cole and that they will have each other.


Something that I have stressed often though is that this is so very hard to get to, this place of peace, for some anyway. Actually it isn't the place of peace that comes first for me, it's the place of acceptance. It has taken me so long to accept that I just have no control over the major things that happen in my life. When we found out we were expecting the twins I was blown away...couldn't have seen that one coming for anything. I questioned why and how but came to a place of acceptance. When we lost Cole I questioned again and in all honesty I am not always done questioning. But right from the start I believed there was great purpose for this 'twinness' to come to my life, for Cole to be my son in Heaven and not on earth. I believed God had a plan for me, the mommy left behind. When I was in the very early stages of the loss..the first 3 months or so after he passed away...really before he was born, I was sure I knew part of the reason... I felt it MUST be to bring our family closer, to get Geoff and I working together better as parents etc. Each time that would blow up in my face, each time I would get a call from home that left me upset, angry, frustrated etc. I would question this plan or question myself. In time (okay in a very very long time) I came to realize that I just might not EVER understand fully this plan but I could accept it, I could take God into my heart and ask Him to help me get there, help me make good choices, help me be what He wants me to guide me. I feel so drawn to helping others, so drawn to fundraising, raising awareness and now to writing my book. I am very certain that I was left behind for a reason and that part of this is the reason.
Incidentally, I am thinking of calling the book "The Ones Left Behind" but struggle with this since the first third of the book or so will be about the pregnancy and before the loss...but we'll see. And for those reading this who wonder what the heck I am talking about...I set a lofty goal for turn this blog and other writing I've done into a book about our TTTS journey. So far it reads like letters to my boys but in adult tones. Some of it is conversation and interactions with others and others is just feelings, emotions and personal messages to them. I hope that it will all come together to show how much my boys have taught me and that being left behind with an angel watching out for you is a pretty amazing thing.
I'm going to leave this blog with another poem that was shared online in this same group...I really like it and think it captures just how I've come to feel about God...

No Footprints

I've listened to the "footprints" poem
a million times or more
Of how when only one set shows
upon the sandy shore
It is the Lord carrying us
and taking on our load
And His are the only set
of footprints that showed.

But what if when we look
there are no footprints to be found?
All we see is plain and simple
sand upon the ground.
No imprints showing that our Lord
is carrying us through life
Helping us when we feel
we can not handle all this strife.

Where is my Lord now that I've fallen
and can't seem to get back up?
So tired and lonely
trying to deal with what seems
an overflowing cup.
Where are those footprints
in the sand
to tell me He's right there?
Helping me with problems
and showing that He really does care.

Does He have favorites, OH NO,
please tell me that's not so!
By why does life seem easier
for some people that I know?
And sometimes I just scream out loud
although it seems in vain,
but often it gets harder each day
to deal with all this pain.

And then it dawned on me
as I realize how simple could it be.
I wonder why I was so blind
that I truly did not see.
It must have been a lightning bolt
that one day gave me light,
Cause out of the clear blue sky,
I finally regained my sight.

I saw a fluffy white cloud
shaped like an Angel dear.
That helped me to understand
and see things oh so clear,
That when I saw no footprints
and so often wondered why,
My Lord carried me on Angel wings,
when He decided to fly.
(by LyndyAngel)

There just seemed to be no other words than the ones I've already wrote to convey this journey of peace. It's an ongoing journey but one I know that I can feel confident is no longer in it's infancy. This project has kept it real for me this year...I searched for scripture on hope, love, joy and peace but more than that, I have searched my soul for these things. I am so very happy that peace is the last week because it just comes all together and the end result is peace. Even this week, that brought such sadness to me and so many of my friends, past co-workers and past students...even with that, I am still so full of peace.
May God bless you all with peace now and forever.
Merry Christmas to each and everyone of you and Happy Birthday dear Jesus...I am so very glad You came here to save us all and so filled with joy that You have come into my life and my heart.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Peace after loss...poems and messages to give hope and peace

Today is a sad day...I didn't want to end my last week before Christmas holidays saying goodbye to a dear friend, but I did. I wept many tears today and hugged many a good friend. I felt peace in God's house though, and I think, all in all, I am doing okay.
I decided to just put some poems here today that I found...I don't have the energy to write much...maybe tomorrow....

Peace my heart...

Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.
Let it not be a death but completeness.
Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.
Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.
Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.
Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.
I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.

~Rabindranath Tagore

A Parable of Immortality

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch until at last she hangs
like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says,
" There she goes! "

Gone where?

Gone from my sight . . . that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of destination.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment
when someone at my side says,
" There she goes! "
there are other eyes watching her coming . . .
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout . . .

" Here she comes! "

~Henry Van Dyke

Path Of Peace
By Paul Mc Cann

Peace is an easy path to tread
Peace is where our fears are mislaid
Peace is beginning to restore
Peace for each man, woman and child
Peace for the troubled streets gone wild
Peace is for the old and the young
Peace in the end will overcome
Peace builds trust into a lifestyle
Peace is a friendly open hand
Peace is a place to understand
Peace in the end will overcome
Peace is for the old and the young
Peace is a legacy to leave
Peace is when we don't have to grieve
Peace is and end to all the hate
Peace is why we negotiate
Peace for all the victims of war

Peace be with you Laurie and with your loving shall be missed so much my friend.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Finding your peace

I decided today to write about some of the things that I have been working on to achieve my inner peace. Not all of them work, not all are my ideas or things I have done but they are things I have read about and researched and I think worth sharing.

As hard as it is, your life is not yours and there are things you cannot change. There is only so much we can influence or affect adn what we can't change, should not be a concern to us. I have noticed with so many people, that they focus on the things that have happened, on the things that we have no control over. Why worry about something that all the worrying in the world will not change? Why should we care about what other people think of us when we really have no idea what they are thinking anyway? Once you open your eyes to this, open your mind to the fact that there are things that you have no influence, and start accepting that you cannot change it, you immediately relieve yourself of a mountain of worry and anxiety. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Taking this path leads to a road of peace.
This has been very instrumental for me in the last few months in achieving my sense of peace. I used to live for wishes, what ifs and thoughts of change. I used to worry about what others thought of me (okay, I am still working on this one) and about things that were beyond my control. I have worked at giving this worry up, trusting in God and just living for each moment.

I don't do this enough but I am trying. A resource I found online says that if you have a lot on your mind and you feel like your thoughts are driving you crazy, meditation can help you find peace. Simply close everything, sit back, close your eyes, and clear your mind of every single thought. Focus on the emptiness. I have a hard time shutting off my thoughts, even for just a few minutes but I am trying.

Spend time in nature

We spend so much time indoors, so much time at a desk, a computer, an office, in a car... our time often doesn't feel like our own. But we humans naturally belong in nature and that is why it feels good to be outdoors when you choose to be (I don't choose to be on yard duty and therefore, in -10 C weather, with the snow and wind blowing , I don't find a lot of peace! But when I can, I go for a walk. I often pray then or talk to God. In the fall I often take my camera and capture pictures of what brings me Joy in God's great world. If you feel overwhelmed, take a stroll outside where there are tons of trees and far from the city. Be there and just enjoy the sights, the sounds, and the peace.

Learn the power of a smile
I stole this directly from a blog....
Whenever you are laughing or smiling, something interesting happens. Not only does something happen on a chemical level to make you feel better, but it also stops all stress and negativity from entering your psyche. A simple smile can make such a difference. For example, the other day I mishandled a dish and it fell on the floor, breaking into pieces, creating a big mess. Now, I could have been angry with myself for being clumsy and thinking “here’s another reason why life sucks!”. But I did the opposite. I began to smile and kind of make fun of myself for not being able to hold on to that plate properly. As I cleaned up the mess, there was no bitterness or anger. As a matter of fact, I did it with a smile on my face…I did it with peace. So whenever you find yourself in a similar predicament, just think of the silver lining, and don’t be shy to poke fun at yourself. You will quickly realize that peace finds its way much more easily to you when you smile.
I smile a lot... so many people have commented that I've seemed so strong and so positive about the journey my life has taken. So many people are so surprised and concerned when that smile is not on my I guess I do a good job of bringing peace through my smile!

Think outwardly

Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in our own world, our own worries and fears. But looking around you, looking at the world and seeing what is out there opens our eyes to the realization that the world does not revolve around our problems. Sometimes we just need to remember how big the world is. Read up on other countries, educate yourself about other countries. It helps to humble us I think. Looking beyond ourselves is very important in finding peace and leads to....

Care for others

You can't find inner peace by looking in the mirror. You need to look around you and not only focus on your own needs and wants. When you begin to genuinely care about other people, so much goodness just seems to be everywhere. This in turn helps in solidifying your inner peace. It can be people close to you or absolute strangers, but any act of kindness and goodwill brings out personal peace. When I help other people, I stop thinking about all that is supposedly wrong in my life, I forget about what causes me to be sad or what brought me to this place and I begin to see all the amazingly awesome things in my life. And then I realize that my life isn’t so bad after all. There is great peace and wisdom in thinking and caring about other people, which we are blind to when we are too deep within our own selfish ways.

Never lose hope
I think I covered so much of this in the first week but hope is something you can never afford to lose. Hope brings, to you, a road to peace. When we get caught up in stress, worry and are overwhelmed within our own life, we forget that hope. We seem to forget that the sun always shines tomorrow, and that this is merely a jog in the road that we weren't planning to take. It has taken me a long time to come to this point of believing deep within my heart, that everything will be ok. But I have gotten there and it has brought me such peace. With hope, I know that whatever seems horrible, is only temporary and that eventually, things will be just fine.

Embrace your faith or beliefs
You obviously all know that I am a Christian and have found great peace in a realtionship with Christ but do I believe that is the only way to find peace...I am not sure. What I do know is that whatever you believe, you must embrace it with your entire being. Be within that beliefe, that faith 100% and peace will find its way into your heart. We may not all agree on what to believe, on what faith is the way etc but we can all likely admit that those that have a strong faith are those that we know that have found peace. There is a reason why research has shown that people that are deeply devoted to their faith have a higher life expectancy and are less likely to have diseases such as cancer. This is because they experience more inner peace, which is important if you want to increase the quality of your life.

Live in the now
Most of the time, what we worry about is relating to something either in the past, or something that hasn’t happened. Living in the present moment erases all of this. Can you change the past...nope! Should we worry about things that we don't even know if or when they will happen? Of course we do it, of course! Today is a gift, that's why it's called the present. In this very moment, living for now...that is where you find true inner peace. In the present moment, there are no problems and no concerns. There is only stillness, and it is within that stillness that you can uncover peace. I used to be someone who worried about things that had already happened, things I had done or said etc. I worried how that would affect my future, I worried what others thought of me because of it. I realized that I can't change what has already happened and that most likely, it happened for a reason that is beyond my scope. I realized that even the best laid plans for the future are completely out of our control in all essence. Once I learned to live in the present moment, I stopped thinking about the past and any potential future, and just worried about being ever-present in each and every moment. My life is definitely more peaceful since then!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My peace I give to you....

Philippians 4:6-7(NLT)
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

I know I have blogged about this before but in light of the heaviness of my heart in the last two days, I thought I’d search for scripture on peace again and remind myself how peace is achieved…true spiritual peace.
It is hard not to worry, it comes naturally, especially to women. I try, daily, not to worry about our financial situation. It is a struggle but I am succeeding. I gave it up to God months ago and I continue to hand my worries over to him daily. I can’t believe the sense of peace I have this year about so many areas. I am aching with the loss of a dear friend and yet my heart is at peace with it too. I miss my son and yet I am feel so little sadness and NO bitterness, anger or negativity this year. Any other time we’ve been through job loss…and it’s never lasted longer than 2 months (it’s been a solid 6 now) I would be panicking daily, fighting with Geoff often and so very negative. And I am just, well not, this time.
This peace, most certainly, exceeds anything I can understand. I have no way to explain how I feel except to say that I know how much I have welcomed Christ into my life and have to give the credit, 100%, to Him.

John 14:27 (NLT)
27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

There are lots of ways that you could interpret this. When I first looked at it I thought of the gift that it is when we do not worry, when we feel peaceful inside. That really is a gift and this holiday season is likely the best gift I’ve had. The world can’t give us this peace, it has to come from God. I had many friends, especially TTTS mom’s who journeyed this road before me, that helped me find this peace. I had tons of encouragement to raise awareness and funds and that also helped to bring me peace. But the world didn’t control that, God did. He brought those people to me, He pushed me to reach out, He planted the ideas of fundraising in my head.
But that is not all that this passage is telling us. When I began looking into interpretations of this scripture I found some great reading on the gift that ‘peace of mind and heart’ is… “the greatest blessing that God gives us is peace in our heart and the hope of eternal life. These are the things that are real. If we seize the opportunity in our short and uncertain lives to seek true peace and eternal life, then our lives will be valuable and meaningful.”

God gave us this gift, originally, in the form of his Son, Jesus Christ. True peace can only come through Jesus Christ. In other translations, the above scripture puts it in a different form "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid"(Jn 14:27). The true peace from God is not of the world, it surpasses the world. "The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus"(Phil 4:7).
A person is saved by their faith and not by the act that brings them to this saving. There are many stories of people who have been ill, in an accident and even, in the case of many TTTS moms I know, grieving a loss and they reach out to a God they’ve never known, never had a relationship with. They are healed, their life becomes ‘better’, they are more at peace etc. These acts aren’t the miracle, not the gift. The gift is the faith itself. They no longer are worried about their illness or their grief because they know that God is with them and will take care of them.

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Heb 11:1).

May you be filled with faith, filled peace of mind and heart this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Farewell to a Peacemaker sent from heaven....

There is a place in you where there is perfect peace.
There is a place in you where nothing is impossible.
There is a place in you where the strength of God abides.

I found this quote today and thought that it just suited my mood... because somewhere inside of me there is peace and God abides and I am just praying that this will sustain me right now. I am feeling so very sad at the news of the loss of a wonderful person, past co-worker and friend. Beyond that, I am feeling so very shocked at this loss.
Laurie was 46 and in perfect health. There was just no way that anyone would have predicted this...not that anyone does. But heart attacks don't happen to young, thin, healthy females.
I met Laurie during my first year working in Woodstock and she soon became like a mom...despite not being that much older than me. She always had a smile, always was positive and had wonderful things to say about everyone. She listened, she offered advice and she gave me a sense of peace when I was at work... in a job and setting that had some significant stresses.Ok, who am I kidding, we had a ton of stress and someone we worked with was manipulative, intimidating, untrustworthy, and had behaviour that more than bordered on harassment. Laurie would always make me feel supported and appreciated when you would come out from one of your manipulation sessions with him. She would do her best to bring peace to you and to make peace for you.
I miscarried at work one day when there and Laurie just wrapped her arms around me, told me it would be okay and sent me on my way with a promise to look after anything that needed to be done. She was one of the first people I told when I found I was expecting the next time and she was just an amazing support person during my pregnancy with Brycen. No matter how tired I looked or stressed I got, she always had a compliment.
She was the first person from work that I showed my ultrasound to when I found out about the twins. The next 12 weeks at that school were amazing. Each appointment I had, Laurie would ask how it went, did we know sex yet, etc. She wanted to see each ultrasound picture when I came back from those appointments too. I think she was more excited than I was... and I guess that was easy in a way since I was pretty stressed out. Laurie did her best to give me confidence and in turn a sense of peace about the twins. She always told me how good of a twin mommy I'd be and offered help and support in every way.
When we lost Cole, she sent me the most beautiful email and was a faithful follower of the blog I kept during the remainder of the pregnancy.
I haven't worked with her in a few years but ran into her every so often and she'd always ask all about me, about us...never telling me things about her first... so self-less and giving. Even though it's been years since we worked together, she will be a person that I will miss dearly from my life.
I really believe that God brought Laurie to this earth of ours to bring peace to others. She was a peacemaker, a confidence booster, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and most of all, an amazing friend. She brought peace to all who met her and I know she is the best example of a person of peace.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The most amazing account of Peace

The Truce of 1914
In 1914 when soldiers in Europe marched out to the first great European war of the 20th century, they said they would be home by Christmas to celebrate their victory.

The young men were not home by Christmas. The war dragged on and on for years and Europe was never to be the same again.

In December of 1914, however, a strange thing happened on the Western front. It was Christmas Eve, and the weather suddenly got cold, freezing the slush and water of the trenches in which the men were bunkered down. In the German trenches soldiers started lighting candles. British sentries reported that there appeared to be small lights, raised on poles or bayonets and although these lanterns clearly illuminated the German troops, the British held their fire. Even more startlingly, British officers saw through binoculars that some enemy troops were holding Christmas trees over their heads with lighted candles in their branches!'' The Germans, who celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, were extending holiday greetings to their enemies.

A few German soldiers started singing carols and it was soon picked up all along the line as others joined in harmonizing. Then they began singing "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!" The British immediately recognized the melody and began singing "Silent Night" along with the Germans.

Then occurred one of the most unusual incidents in military history. One by one, soldiers on both sides laid down their weapons and ventured into no man's land - too many of them to prevent their superior officers from objecting. An undeclared truce had broken out spontaneously, against all orders and the rules of military combat.

One eye-witness account of the unofficial truce is given in the wartime diary kept by veteran Frank Richards. In it he wrote:"We stuck up a board with 'Merry Christmas' on it. The enemy stuck up a similar one.

"Two of our men threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads as two of the Germans did the same, our two going to meet them. They shook hands and then we all got out of the trench and so did the Germans."

Richards explained that some German soldiers spoke perfect English. One, who had worked in Brighton before the war, said how fed up he was that they were at war and he would be glad when it was all over. His British counterpart agreed.

The German officers appear to have taken the lead role in the Chritsmans get-together having provided barrels of beer not only for their own men but two barrels for the British soldiers too. The Brits, however, claimed the French-made beer was barely fit to drink. They gave each other small gifts from chocolate bars and tobacco to tins of processed beef. Others joined in and as the day progressed this mass fraternisation spread along the front to include soccer matches between the two forces. Men who the day before had been shooting to kill were sharing tots of rum and showing each other family snapshots.

The men sat around campfires together singing the choruses of Christmas carols, "Silent Night" being the favorite since it was known by both sides. Before midnight they said their farewells and returned to their own lines.
According to Peter Simkins*, of London's Imperial War Museum, the Christmas Truce took place in numerous places along the battlefront.

"Along the British section of the line, about 22 miles in Flanders, particularly on and around Christmas Day (it wasn't just a Christmas Day phenomenon), both sides began to detect in the opposing trenches, certain signs of Christmas celebration (if celebration is the right word in such a setting). Germans would be heard singing, 'Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht.'

People would shout messages like: 'Fritz, here. I was a waiter in a Manchester hotel before the war. How are my friends from the Lancashire?' On Christmas Day itself, the first curious, slightly headstrong people, perhaps, from both sides poked their head above the trenches, and being made aware that somebody on the other side wasn't going to shoot it off, then clambered cautiously out. Others followed suit. People stopped in the middle of no-man's-land, shook hands, exchanged buttons and badges, cigarettes. And, this went on, in some parts for two or three days. And, then, partly because the Generals didn't want it to happen, and partly because units moved out of the line and others came in, the thing died away. It was never repeated.
The truce ended just as it had begun, by mutual agreement. Captain C. I. Stockwell, of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers recalled how, after a truly "Silent Night," he fired three shots into the air at 8.30 a.m. on December 26th and then climbed onto his parapet. The officer who had given him the beer the previous day also appeared on the German parapet. They bowed, saluted and climbed back into their trenches. A few moments afterwards, Stockwell heard the German fire two shots into the air and, as he said, "The War was on again."

I love this song by Colin Raye that tells this story... what a story to give us hope for peace. It really could happen again and I wish the world peace this Christmas.

Peace... a great way to wrap it up

Oops...forgot to post this yesterday...what can I say, Christmas pageant at church, famiy Christmas...sigh... someday I will sleep!!!

This final week of advent is the week of Peace. As I said in my last posting, I am amazed by the sense of peace that I feel this year. This blogging project has made me think and kept me focused on the many gifts in my life. I know that a year ago I never dreamed that I’d find the peace that I have now. Yesterday at a class we’ve been taking at our church we were discussing the Holy Spirit and how it works in us. This lead to a conversation about how we don’t always see the spirit working, that we aren’t always aware of what is happening and that even more so, we aren’t always ready to accept the spirit working within us. One of the other members said that about 10 years ago she asked God for forgiveness and invited Jesus into her heart and life but it’s only been in the last year or so that she’s felt the spirit moving within her. Our group leader said that perhaps that was because she just wasn’t ready. It wasn’t that her life wasn’t changing, wasn’t affected by her newfound love of the Lord but rather that the spirit was waiting for her to be ready to receive and envelope all that was possible.
That got me to thinking about my life right now, most especially in the last 10 days or so. I realized that maybe that is exactly why I am feeling this sense of peace…because I was open to it, open to the Holy Spirit working within me to feel that peace and from there, share it. I remember the first few months after we lost Cole when I couldn’t figure out how to feel. I think of the next 18 months or so after that when I just felt so sad, lost, hurt and sometimes angry. I think of last year at this time when I was in a better place but still missing my son so very much. And when I reflect on the last few weeks of my life and the peace I have been feeling I realize that the last few months have lead to that. I have grown and changed with the guidance of the Lord and have felt and seen the Holy Spirit moving within my life. I love going to church, not for who I see there (which was really what I felt was the best thing about church before) but for what I learn, how I feel and the peace it gives me.
I am feeling just so very blessed this year, this holiday season and have such a sense of peace.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Finding joy in hard times

I have a few things left that I want to share on this last day of the week of Joy. The first is a small book that was given to me by my friend Julie after we lost Cole. She was one of the first people to reach out to me in the first few days after we learned he was gone. She reached out because, sadly, she got it...she'd been there. Not in our exact shoes but she knew what it was like to find out that the bundle of joy you'd hoped to hold in your arms would, instead, be a child you can only hold forever in your heart. I had planned to share this one Tuesday but I forgot. It is a book that made me cry but then suddenly made me feel joy....

Born to Fly - An Infant's Journey to God
by Cindy Claussen

A miracle happened.
A life has begun.
"Are you there, God?"
"Yes, I am here, Nathan," the Lord whispered.
"Where am I?"
"You are in the womb of your mother," God smiled.
"I feel warmth on my back" Nathan whispered.
"Yes, she is rubbing her stomach, caressing you the best she can right now. She is speaking to me, Nathan. She is asking me to care for you."
"I'll kick her back, so she knows I love her, too," Nathan said excitedly.
God smiled
"Now what is she saying, God?"
"Your mother is laughing, Nathan."
"She is happy, isn't she God?"
"Yes Nathan. She is happy."
" I hear a different sound. What is that?"
"It is the voice of your dad, Nathan."
"He sounds strong," Nathan said.
"Yes," answered God.
"Does he love me, too?"
"More than his own life," God whispered.
"When do I get to see him, God?"
"Not for awhile, my son."

"I'm not feeling so well, God."
"I know my son, but soon you will fly."
"I will fly?"
"Yes." God smiled.
"Will my mother fly with me?"
"Someday," God said.
"I think I'm ready," Nathan whispered.
"I know, my child."
"Is it time to fly now, God?"
"Yes," God said gently and wiped his eyes.
"When will I see You, God?"
"Very soon, my son."

"Is that my mother and dad?"
"Yes, Nathan," God said and pulled the child onto His lap.
"Why are they crying?"
"They cry for you, my child," God answered as He wrapped His arms around the boy.
"Why do they cry for me?" Nathan asked.
"Because they want to hold you in their arms, Nathan."
"But instead, You hold me in Your arms, huh, God?"
'Yes, son," God said.
"Why does that make them sad, God? I like it in your arms!"
"They love you very much Nathan. It can make a mommy's and daddy's heart sad when they don't get to hold their children - I know how it feels to watch my child die."
"Have I died, God?"
"Just on earth, Nathan."
"I don't feel dead,I feel very much alive! Watch how fast I can fun!" Nathan crawled down from God's lap.
"Yes, Nathan, you are fast." God clapped.
"Now watch me fly!" Nathan said as he soared high.
"You are amazing!" God laughed.
Nathan settled back in the safety of God's arms and said, "When will my parents fly, God?"
"Someday, my child."
"Will we fly together?"
"Yes, Nathan, my mark is on their foreheads."
"Good," Nathan said. "Will you tell them I am safe and happy?"
"I will comfort them, my child."
"Will they be happy again?"
"Yes, child. They will heal."
"And someday we will all get to be with You, huh, God?"
"Yes, Nathan. Someday," God promised.
"I love you, God" Nathan said as he snuggled close to God.
"I love you too, son," God said as he put His hand on Nathan's head.
"Take good care of my parents until they fly!" Nathan said.
"I promise," God whispered.

It gives me such joy to know that my children were all connected so strongly to God as they grew in my womb. They talked to Him, laughed with Him, shared with Him. He protected them. And in Cole's final moments, God was there with both my boys. Guiding one child to him and comforting his brother as his twin and best friend hugged him one last and said goodbye. It brings me joy to know that God was and is taking care of Cole in Heaven and that He has promised him that we will be reunited again. I debated about saving this story for the end of this blogging project as it encompasses all the themes of advent for me... hope, love, joy and peace. I have such hope that I will see my son and all of my loved ones again. I am filled with love the Father God and for my children. I am filled with joy when I think of that love. And most of all, this book brings me such peace...just an overwhelming sense of peace that God is looking after all of us, that He is sad that we are sad, that He remembers what it is like to see your child die and because of that He knows just how to comfort us and that He will take care of us until we fly.

The other piece I want to share today is my own. The original thoughts and feelings occurred 3 years ago on Monday after we had gone down for an MRI on Cameron's brain three years ago today. After Cole passed away, our once healthy donor, Cameron, became suddenly very sick. They knew he was extremely anemic and weren't sure if they should do a blood transfusion to save him...they might just be saving a very sick baby, one that wouldn't ever be healthy. But they decided to do it and then had us come for an MRI to check the damage to his brain. On that day, December 19/08, two days after the MRI, we learned that our unborn son was going to be perfectly fine, there were no significant signs of brain damage. Oh the joy we felt...
an excerpt from my book based on emails and messages sent around that time

Yesterday we traveled to Toronto to meet with the special pregnancy team at Mt. Sinai. After much scanning and discussions we were given the joyful results that baby Cameron is a normal 24.5 week baby in every development area. The MRI that I had on Wednesday showed no brain damage or signs of lack of oxygen. His MCA, which is the input levels of blood in his brain that will be monitored for the remainder of the pregnancy have dropped from 60 on Sat. afternoon, to 52 post blood transfusion on Sunday to 37 yesterday....which is within the normal range. He weighs 602 grams, which makes him a viable baby should he be born anytime soon. ...though this is not likely to happen.
We are now only dealing with the very high risks of the remainder of this pregnancy. Due to the hole that was made between Cameron's and Cole's sacs this is now considered a monoamniotic pregnancy and means that the cords could become compressed at any time. It is less likely to happen because Cole is not moving around and should it happen it will not likely become an issue till after 28 weeks. So I will be heavily monitored for this and Cameron will be heavily monitored for growth, development and any further complications from the ordeal that has already occurred. But all in all, it is definitely a moment of Joy!

I am so very grateful for those journal entries, so glad I can go back and read how I was doing then and remember that there were, indeed, moments of Joy. Each time Cameron moved and kicked was a moment of joy, each day I remained pregnant was a moment of joy. And these.....

these were moments of profound joy.

I made it...I made it through this week with minimal sadness, tears or depressive moments. I made it through with absolutely no anger. I made it through by remembering, honoring, celebrating, loving and living. Boy was I wrong last year... this day will not always be about sadness!

Friday, December 16, 2011

He is our Joy

What brings you the greatest joy in life? Not what brings you joy, but what brings you the greatest joy? Here’s a list of answers I have heard from many people:

-Seeing my kids succeed
-Spending time with my wife/husband/friend
-Talking with my mother or father
-Succeeding at work
-Making money
-Being able to provide for my family
-Playing catch with my son or dolls with my daughter

The list goes on and on. Some people spend their entire lives trying to achieve joy. It seems that life is all about the pursuit of happiness. I am new to the world of personal relationships with Christ, I am new to being born again and renewing my commitment to love the Lord. But even in that newness I can already sense a difference in my sense of personal joy. I am in awe some days of the joy I feel and I am starting to believe that what without a relationship with God, people will never find true joy.
Now I will admit that the previous list is full of things that can bring you some form of joy. But true joy comes from your relationship with God. This kind of joy is real. It doesn’t change and it never fails. I am learning that this should be your greatest joy because when it is, you can enjoy all of the other things in life because you have joy from God. This is the joy that was meant to sustain us. This is the joy that gives life to all of our other joys. This type of joy is what holds you up during difficult times. It’s being optimistic at exasperating times. It’s how you remain hopeful during the worst situations possible.
Joy is a big part of who Christ is. Look around you at His creations, especially us... even as fallen as we are and you will know this is true. Think of the last time you saw a beautiful, rich sunset, a tree covered in fresh snow, a deer bounding gracefully across a field, or the last time you saw the smile on your child’s face. God created us to be joyful because He is joyful. Why do you think we were given the ability to laugh? Why does it take more muscles to frown then to smile? He knew we would need joy in our lives.
But better than the ability to be joyful is that we are His joy. Just as a child is the joy of his parents. Every time a child of His steps closer to Him, every time someone commits their life to Him and works to follow in His footsteps we bring Him inexplicable joy. Our pastor says the every time a new person comes to Christ, there is a party in Heaven. (“I say to you that there will be joy like this before the Angels of God over one sinner who returns home.” Luke 15:10) What could be better than the people He created choosing Him over anything else? He smiles down on us and is flled to the top of his cup with love and joy at this child who loves Him with everything they have, every part of their being.
And He is our joy. All good things come from God. He gave them to us so that we would be joyful. And when we realize how much He loves us, we cannot help but rejoice. When we are satisfied in the love of Christ, we can willingly express the joy we have to others. With any luck others will see that joy they will recognize it as something they want, need, something and were created for.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Joyful words

Joy is not in things, it is in us.
Richard Wagner
I think we lose sight of this at times…no wait, I think society in general loses sight of this. So often we are a ‘need more, want more’ society and we wish we could have what the neighbours have, wish we could live like the rich guy across town, wish we could travel like our well to do relatives.
Do those that have things really have joy? Do those that have things not have true joy? The answer lies not in what they have but what they are. Not in where they’ve been but where they are going.

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

I think I have really discovered this in my advent theme blogging project. This is the first year since we lost Cole that I haven’t found myself sinking into a dark pit when the early days of December roll in. I know that it’s not just because of the project. It helps that I have begun to build a relationship with Christ and discovered a great support group of people in some of my fellow LEMC church members. It helps that I pray, reflect and live graciously. But the project has kept me focused on various positive themes, themes of hope, love, joy and peace. Those are the thoughts I’ve had lately and I think that maybe that’s what I have become…more hopeful, more loving, more joyful and more and more at peace.

Grief can take care if itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.
Mark Twain

Grief sure can take care of itself. It can consume you without a backward glance if you let it. I used to think I didn’t let grief run the show for me but I know now that I did. I used it as an excuse to not take care of myself and to hold on to years and years of weight that I really needed to release. I let grief control my free time and spent hours and hours retelling my story, crying over others stories and talking about the negative emotions that my loss brought on.
But not I find I feel joy…not just happiness, not just contentedness but really soul filling joy. I think that having Geoff accept Christ and having him work so hard at self-improvement has given me someone to share my joy with…and that just leads to more joy. In a time where things could be so negative (and in many people’s minds, should be so negative), we are optimistic, peaceful…joyful!

Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy.
Mohandas Gandhi

Now if this isn’t a reflection that speaks volumes, I don’t know what is. I’ve been a volunteer in some way, shape or form for most of my life. I think that I usually found joy in my volunteer work but not always. But I know for sure that I have watched volunteers burn themselves out and just become, well, miserable to be around. I am sure you can all think of people like that too. The project becomes a chore, they become negative and eventually the project either flops or it is decided not to pursue it again because it just wasn’t working, wasn’t successful. If only we could find a way to do our ‘work’, to accomplish our tasks while being filled with joy…being optimistic, hopeful, approachable, compassionate…well the list could go on and on. If that was our approach then I am very certain that many more projects would go ahead, many more volunteers could be found.

Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.
Mother Teresa

A nice image…a net full of souls caught by the joy we emit as we go about life. When you think about your own life, if you are like me, you can think of someone who has impacted you by their joyful attitude. When you go about life with the optimism that Joy is, when you are full of life, happiness, kindness, graciousness and, well, joy, then you will draw people to you…and change their day, change their mood, change their lives.

You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.
Khalil Gibran

So often people do not remember to pray when thing are going well. At our Wednesday night bible study our pastor always began with asking for praise items. Not prayer items, not requests but instead a time to rejoice for the good things. It seems to be easy to ask for help from the Lord but we seem to forget to be gracious. Thanksgiving shouldn’t be just once a year, we need to give thanks and praise each day. There is always something to be grateful for and there is always joy to be had…you just need to know where to look.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Joy of Giving

Before I write this post I need to kind of get something off my chest and also comment about my last post. First of all I am not even sure I should have posted it... it is sad, very, very sad...and I am not. I am not sure why I did and I think I may remove it because I am not sure that it really fits here. And yet....I just wanted to share the book abit, to share where I was and where I am now...because I am in a good place. I think some people believe I focus too much on what happened then and on what we lost. To them I say...well nothing. There is nothing to say. Most can't understand, they've not walked in my shoes, thank God. They also don't live my life and know that I am very much full of joy, hope, love and peace. I know what I lost but I also know what I gained. Talking about it and about Cole does not mean I am focusing on him or that time and not on the 'now'. It simply means, to me anyway, that I am showing where I was, remembering what happened and looking at how far I have come. Thanking God for bringing our whole TTTS journey to my life used to be hard but it really isn't anymore. Can I say I am glad I have a child in Heaven... some days yes! Living in the past and learning from the past are two totally seperate things and I am pretty confident that I am in the later group.

I am different, I am changed, I am me! I talk about it because it matters to me, I focus on it because it is my way to help others on this journey. Helping others makes the journey have a purpose, makes all that we went through seem to have a focus. I feel I am directed to help, to raise awareness, to fundraise and to offer hope to others. I truly believe that God and Cole are directing me that way.
And so on to today's post...

The joy of giving can’t be defined or measured. It can only be felt, again and again, in more ways than we can imagine. For some, the joy of giving, especially this time of year, is giving the material things, the presents and the tokens of our love. It brings great joy to see the faces of others when they open a gift from you. It brings great joy, sometimes, to shop for those things. Giving the gift of money to those who don't have is another amazing feeling as is giving money to places that can help others...the Salvation Army kettle drives or toy drives, sponsoring a foster child in another part of the world, giving money to help a family in need or pledging money to a an organization, foundation, charity etc that can be used for research, for the purchase of needed equipment or for projects that can help others in need. Those are amazing ways to feel the joy of giving.
The joy of giving of yourself is even more satisfying. It is a feeling that envelopes you and for me, gives me peace. Sometimes that giving of yourself is in the form of physical, hands on support and sometimes it is just being the ear to listen and the voice that offers support, encouragement and advice.

Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, and you will be filled with joy.

The more I do this type of thing for others, the more joy I feel. Right now in my life, most of that joy is found in giving my time to the TTTS world. Sometimes it is the form of support in online groups, sometimes it's starting those groups myself. Sometimes it is in sharing my story so that others can see that it does get better, easier...that there is hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It's amazing what a few words can do for someone who is feeling so lost and overwhelmed with a medical issue affecting their unborn child. It is also amazing to share where you were and where you are now with someone who is new to the world of grief.
My heart is also very much filled with joy when I work at raising funds to support the place that gave us hope, the place that saved my son, to the man who made that happen. It brought me so much joy yesterday to share those funds and that hope with Dr. Ryan. It brought me immense joy to have my whole family there and to have another TTTS mom join me in presenting it.

Sometimes I wonder if all the effort I put in is what I should be doing, is it worth it, does it make a difference?

Yesterday as I watched the joy on Dr. Ryan's face as he looked at the amount on the cheque, as he talked to us about our stories and about what we think would be the most helpful thing to other families...when I heard the thoughts I've had since the day we lost Cole regarding supporting others and being able to be there, at Mt. Sinai (atleast in spirit and then through a voice on the phone or online) to help others, I knew that it does make a difference, it IS where I am supposed to be, what I am supposed to do. And I was enveloped by such JOY!

Dr. Ryan has so many plans and ideas for offering support to others during and after delivery and is especially wanting to support those who are greiving. He wants both Dianna and I on board to help with this and that is just, well AWESOME.

He spent so much time talking with us and listening. He checked out both our is a glimpse of the moments with Cameron....

He was just so grateful to all of my family and spent time with Zack asking him about this haircut last time and his bike ride this time.

It was just a day filled with peace and from that, with joy. I am so glad we did it, so glad that Cole's day now has so many great memories attached to it.

The joy of just amazing!

We find greatest joy, not in getting, but in expressing what we are... Men do not really live for honors or for pay; their gladness is not the taking and holding, but in doing, the striving, the building, the living. It is a higher joy to teach than to be taught. It is good to get justice, but better to do it; fun to have things but more to make them. The happy man is he who lives the life of love, not for the honors it may bring, but for the life itself.
R.J. Baughan

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Not so much about joy...instead a glimpse at my book

So today was... really awesome. I had my moments...I cried walking this morning but that was the point of my meditate, reflect, pray and feel sorrow. I came back sad but okay and remained very okay until we exited onto the Gardner and got closer and closer to Mt. Sinai. (oh wait, most of you don't know how I spent my day...well that is a blog for tomorrow but needless to say I was back where it all began) I began to feel those tears, those memories of that very first journey surrounded me and frankly I thought I might lose it. But I didn't...I let myself have my moment and then I was totally okay. Seeing Dr. Ryan was AWESOME...we spent a ton of time with him...again a blog for tomorrow. We left that part of the Mt. Sinai world and felt good. We went to the hospital, to the place where Cole's heart beat for the last time and it truly was ok. I felt peace, calm and hope. I won't say I felt joy...but I had enough of that to sustain me earlier.
I did okay til we went over to Sick Kids, where our world was shattered with the news that Cole's heart had stopped beating. I did okay, fine really, and then I saw the sign...Cardiology unit and saw the place where I sat and cried as we let people know and waited for the porter to return me to my room at Sinai.
But I left there feeling at peace, feeling the presence of my son and knowing that miracles happened at that area of Toronto.
I came home and decided that, although I am very much at peace and feeling content, I do feel like I need to share a piece of myself from that time. I have decided to share a segment of my book...the one I vowed to write in 2011...yup, no where near done LOL! It isn't the part where joy happens but I sought it out in the last few days because I do remember the joy that I felt when I learned my babies were boys, the optimism I felt about our surgery and about my boys future. Things didn't turn out the way I wanted them too but life has a way of working out okay in the end and bringing joy out of that....again, tomorrow's blog.
For now I leave you with a very unedited segment of my book. I'd love to hear comments, love to know what people think.Just a point of is written in correspondence form... letters, emails, texts, IM, message board posts, chats, etc. Some of it is actually things I wrote at the time and some is a bit of a twist to the actual happenings that I did in order to tell the story. Hopefully those that I have 'used' to help me write this will be okay with that...guess I should have asked them first LOL....

Dear Cameron and Cole; Dec. 11/08
You have names and we have dreams of blue, of trucks, of sandboxes and mud, of bikes and cars and hockey and oh so much more. Boys, boys, am I outnumbered. Daddy and I didn’t actually discuss which one of you is which...I guess we’ll leave that till later...maybe even until the day we meet you. Unfortunately I am writing this letter to you on hospital ‘stationary’...from a place that I am very certain is going to be a very important part of your stories when you grow up... Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto...and I am writing because I am just so damned scared about what is happening inside of me.. and so sorry that my body has done this to you. I never ever dreamed we would have any of these type of complications...I skipped those chapters in the twin books...I thought how can this small amount, 15-20% of all identical twin pregnancies, really be something that would happen to us.
I feel so bad for you both. You little baby B are all stuck in there with no room to move and no fluid around you. And Mr. Baby A with so much around you and your little heart working extra hard.
Dr. Whittle seems very optimistic that we’ll be leaving here in a few days with two very healthy babies safe inside me. She explained what treatments could be done to help this problem. The scariest was basically nothing other than monitoring and delivering if and when it reaches a crisis stage. Effectively that is a death sentence to both of you as we are already at a pretty serious stage of the disease and you were both too small to survive life outside the womb. Another treatment involves using a long needle, entering the amniotic sac of baby A and draining off as much of the extra amniotic fluid as possible. This procedure would not stop the TTTS from happening and had a higher chance of neurological impairments but it might buy us some time. The final treatment we were told about is the specialty of Mt. Sinai and is, in fact, the only place in Canada that successfully performs this procedure regularly. It involves inserting a laser in through my abdomen wall and into the uterus. They will use a scope to guide this laser and your dad and I will be able to see you inside of my womb. The risks for both of the last procedures involve things like infection and preterm labour but unlike the amnioreduction, laser treatment will eliminate the TTTS. The success rate on it is a bit scary for us... 50-60% chance of saving both babies and 90% chance of saving one baby. But without the surgery the outcome is the scariest.. 100% chance of losing one or both of you. And even if we don't lose you both, if a recipient baby, you Mr. A, passes away (and she was open that this is far more likely than baby B passing) that the chances of having a survivor are between 6-10% and having a healthy survivor really has a 0% chance of happening.
Daddy and I were in tears but we agreed that we wanted to do what we could to save you both and we asked to meet with Dr. Ryan, the man who will perform this surgery and ultimately be the one responsible for trying to save your lives.
Oh my little sweet boys, I pray that you will be okay. I’ve asked God to make sure everything goes well, that you are safe from this awful disease and I am safe from the complications of surgery. I asked him to give us at least another 10 weeks or more before we meet you both and tell you how much you mean to us. God is good, He’ll look out for all of us.
So much love to you, my sweet miracles,
Love Mommy

To: Mom
From: Jodie

Hey there! Just tried to call but am assuming you are on your way to Cheryl’s to get the boys and don’t have your phone with you. Thanks again to you for going to get the boys and please give my eternal gratitude to Cheryl for keeping them overnight and looking after the dog for us. I wish I could have found you yesterday in time.... I just needed a good chat with my mommy as the crazy crisis began.
I am feeling okay this morning. Tired and worried. I didn’t sleep much last night. I am just so damned scared about these little boys and so completely overwhelmed by all we have learned about this disease, the treatment and the health of our boys, Cameron and Cole.
We just met with Dr. Ryan, the amazing doctor that will perform this surgery today. He is such an amazing doctor... professional and yet compassionate, serious and yet casual.
There’s a lot of information to absorb but here’s kind of the rundown on what we learned about the babies, me and my placenta and the surgery that we didn’t know yesterday... or that, unfortunately has changed since yesterday.
The baby that they are most concerned about is known as the recipient or poly (some medical term that I can’t remember but is something like polyhydramy – means too much fluid). Because of all this extra fluid (which is up abit more today) his heart is working hard and they can see that he is ‘stressed’ by looking at some readings in his umbilical dopplers... which is a reading of the flow in and out of his body through his umbilical artery I think. The other baby, the donor, is looking signs of any organ damage. We found out that the recipients umbilical cord is inserted 11 cm from the placenta into the uterine wall but I have no idea what the means or why it is a concern. I also have an anterior placenta which is why it’s been hard for anyone else to feel these little hockey players inside of me...but makes it a bit harder to do the surgery I think.
These little boys are very tiny, even for their age, and Dr. Ryan was honest with us. If they are born now they will not be saved, there is nothing that can be done for them. He told us that without the surgery I’ll have today that we would lose one for sure and likely both. If we don’t have it and we lose one than the other one will be severely brain damaged. But Dr. Ryan seems hopeful and thinks we caught this in time.
Oh Mom, I am so scared for these boys and for me. I can’t stop crying. Geoff has been great but he’s pretty overwhelmed too. Thankfully they are letting him sleep on a cot in my room so at least I am never alone.
Call me when you get this message okay...I need to hear my mommy right now.
Sent from my wireless device on the Rogers Network

Canadian Parents Message Board – March mommies

Well it's me again. I am thinking it is funny that I made jokes a few days ago about avoiding cities like Toronto as often as I can. I am not avoiding Toronto at all today and am grateful the specialist here at Mt. Sinai hospital as I am here due to complications with my twins. They are experiencing twin to twin transfusion syndrome where one twin is receiving all of the nutrients and is suffering because of it...his heart is working very hard and had they not caught this yesterday it could have been fatal. The other baby is doing very well despite having no amniotic fluid around him. He has no signs of any complications to his organs at all. They are both somewhat small for their age and if things go absolutely horribly and they are born in the next two days they won't survive. BUT my body is showing no signs at all of going into labour....cervix is very long...longer than the average woman with a singleton.
I will be having surgery today to correct this problem and as long as all goes well which the dr's are very confident about and if it doesn't cause me to go into labour or cause any other complications then I should likely carry them for another 10 weeks.
I am so scared and so emotional but need to remain positive.
We now know the sex and testosterone will be flowing in our house. We finally find out their sex...I am going to be WAY outnumbered by boys...two little gents in there!!! We have tentatively named them Cameron and Cole.
Does anyone have any great success stories out there for me...I could use some encouragement.
Thanks girls!

Dear Friends;
Thank you for your continued prayers, texts, emails and calls. They mean so much to us and are so needed.
I am back from surgery and things went well. I was pretty out of it and didn’t get to see our boys from inside (on the camera on the scope) but Geoff did and says they look handsome. There was even a moment where baby B reached out through a hole in their dividing membrane as if to comfort his sick twin. This hole in the dividing membrane is a further complications which will mean a much more watched pregnancy and a guarantee of delivery in London or here but Dr. Ryan feels confident that he disconnected all the vessels connecting the babies and that TTTS will no longer be an issue for us.
The baby that had too much fluid, the recipient, was looking weaker and is a very sick baby. Dr. Ryan is very concerned about him and will be sending us for a fetal echo cardiogram tomorrow morning. I am so scared for my babies and ask for many prayers for all of us, especially little baby A.
I am off to eat...finally... no food since last night and unfortunately its Swiss Chalet for again...the only thing open that we know of near here.
I’ll update you all tomorrow after the echo. Thanks again.
Jodie and Geoff

35 Mommies of Multiples Message Board

Update for you guys. Everything regarding surgery went very well. All vessels that were causing the transfer have been sealed off so that problem will be fixed. Prior to surgery we learned that our recipient baby moved from stage 3 to stage 4 with there now being fluid in his abdomen as well. This is very surprising to Dr. Ryan as TTTS does not usually progress so rapidly... it is also very concerning as his heart is damaged. Tomorrow I have to have an echo cardio ultrasound on the baby to see what damage is there....hopefully nothing serious.
During the surgery another problem came order to get to all areas in the placenta that were affected they had to make a small hole in the sac separating the babies. Immediately the fluid moved from the one baby to the other...which meant immediate relief for them BUT it also means that they are now not completely separated so I will be VERY heavily monitored and could end up in the hospital to monitor them to ensure their cords don't entangle. It will also mean a definite c-section and most likely an early delivery but not as early as a very viable stage. I am so happy, so much stress has been alleviated.
Other than that I am good. ...tired, a bit crampy and drained!!!
Thanks for all your prayers and thoughts....keep them coming as we aren't out danger yet but it is looking much better!

Dear Cole and Cameron;
Daddy wants me to write to you and tell you how handsome you are and how excited he was to see you inside of me. I wish I was able to see you too but I didn’t have my glasses on and was pretty sedated so it wasn’t really possible.
The surgery seemed to go well. I am very tired and uncomfortable but I feel confident and happy that this problem will be behind us.
Right now I can’t feel you moving because they gave us some meds to keep you calm during surgery. I can hardly wait to feel you kick and punch me again so I know that all is well.
Things must seem different in there now for you both... more room for one and less room for the other. Daddy says that one of you reached over as if to give the other a high five or maybe a hug just at the end of the surgery and that brings me great comfort. I am so glad you have each other, so glad you will always have each other. What an awesome thing it will be to grow up with your best friend right beside you.
I know I’ve told you this over and over but I want you to know how much I love you and how much I want you to be in my life. I know I was pretty nervous at the start and couldn’t imagine my life with two little babies. Now I can’t imagine my life without you both. Thankfully this surgery has eliminated so much of our medical issues and we will hopefully go on to have an uneventful few months.
Time for mommy to go to sleep. I hardly slept last night because I was so scared and worried. Tonight I think I am too exhausted to do much other than sleep.
I love you both so much Cole and Cameron... you are my little miracles!

To: Mom
Hey there! Just heading over to Sick Kids now for the echo cardiogram.
To: Jodie
How are things today? How are you feeling?
To: Mom
Things seem good today. I felt some strong kicks from the baby that is sicker this morning and am so glad to know he’s healthy enough to kick his momma.
To: Jodie
That’s great. I’ve had you on my mind all morning. Heading to St. Catherine’s now.
To: Mom
Say hi to the whole family for me. Can’t believe I’m missing Christmas...first time EVER.
To: Jodie
I think you have more important things to do today.
To: Mom
I guess. Hug and kiss the boys for me and tell them their baby brothers are doing great. Bye.
To: Jodie
Will do. Take care. Bye. Love you.

My dearest sweet sons;
I don’t know how to write this, I don’t know how I can express how shattered my heart is. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. I don’t want to write it, I just want to turn back time to Thursday morning and start all over again. Tell me I can do that....PLEASE tell me I can do that. I can hardly breathe right now, I can’t see this paper for the tears streaming down my cheeks.
I don’t know how you tell a child you ‘ve loved from the moment you learned they were with you that you will never get to see them take their first breath and hear their first cry, never get to see them take their first steps, never feel their hugs, kiss away their tears, never see them go to school, graduate or get married. Oh my sweet children, I am heartbroken that you won’t get to grow up together, that you will not share that twin bond and will not be the best of friends.
I am heartbroken, I am shattered. I want to scream, to rip things from the walls of this horrible hospital room. I want to run back to that doctor at Sick Kids who said “this baby has no heartbeat. I’m sorry your baby has died” and tell him he’s wrong, he’s so very wrong. I felt you move, I know I did...he’s got to be wrong.
Oh my dear sweet innocent baby A how I ache to hold you, to tell you how sorry I am that I couldn’t protect you. I have never even met you and I know I will miss you forever. The world will never be the same, I will forever be broken, part of my heart missing.
Oh Cameron and Cole I love you both so much and I am so very sorry, so very sad, so heartbroken and so lost. How will I ever make it out of this, how do I go on?

38 Text

To: Jodie
Just got Geoff’s text. I am so very sorry and so shocked. Will call when my shift is over.
To: Charotte
Thanks. I am beside myself, can’t stop shaking, crying or feeling sick.
To: Jodie
Oh my dear friend how I hurt for you. I wish I could be there to hold you while you cry.
To: Charlotte
I love you my friend...and wish you were here too. Mom and Dad will be here soon, thank God.
To: Jodie
That’s good. How’s Geoff holding up?
To: Charlotte
He’s a mess. He keeps leaving the room in tears...going for a smoke he says. I know he just doesn’t want to upset me more but I wish he’d stay
To: Jodie
Men are a tough aren’t they. Oh sweetie I wish I could take this all away.
To: Charlotte
I wish I could send it all away. I want to start this weekend over! Gotta go, just been called to ultrasound to meet with Dr. Ryan. Pray for us and our babies, no idea if the other twin is okay or not.
To: Jodie
Will do...will send a prayer circle request out later too. Talk to you tonight after my shift. Love you!

Dear Friends;
This is, by far, the hardest email that I have ever had to write. I am shattered and heartbroken, lost, confused and devastated. I can’t believe I have to let our close friends know this via email but even more heartwrenching that I even have to write this. Putting it in writing makes it real and I don’t want it to be real, I don’t want it to be anything but the worst nightmare I’ve ever had. This morning, at 11:00 or so, we learned that one of our sweet boys had become an angel. The doctor has explained to us that because the fluid transfused so quickly to baby A, his heart was working very hard. They compared it to a senior who has problems with fluid retention… the heart has to work that much harder to keep up with all the extra fluids. And this morning that became to much for our son and his heart gave out.
We are, as you can imagine, beyond devastated and so very confused . So much for our dreams of matching clothes, matching toys and matching boys.
Right now, though our other baby is looking strong, he is also in a life threatening position as well. He has a very very low blood volume and they are sure that he needs a blood transfusion. It will be done tonight and we can only pray that it will have the desired affect and he will not suffer brain damage.
our doctor continues to amaze us with his compassion but steadfast dedication and we ask that you all pray for success for this procedure. We also need your prayers for us…as we deal with all that the last 48 hours or so has handed to us.
I will keep you posted and let you know how the procedure goes.
Jodie and Geoff
Sent from my wireless device on the Rogers Network

Is there Joy is this day???

Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees
Around the world below,
With tiny lights like heaven's stars
Reflecting in the snow.

...The sight is so spectacular
Please wipe away that tear
For I'm spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
That people hold so dear
But earthly music can't compare
With the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you
The joy their voices bring
For it's beyond description
To hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
Trust God and have no fear
For I'm spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I can't tell you of the splendor
Or the peace here in this place.
Can you imagine Christmas
With our Savior, face to face?

May God uplift your spirit
As I tell Him of your love
Then pray for one another
As you lift your eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful
And let your spirits sing
For I'm spending Christmas in Heaven
And I'm walking with the King!"

By Wanda Bencke

I used this entry last year to wish my dear sweet baby boy a Merry Christmas last year. I picture him, looking at us like these pictures show, watching us with joy in his eyes as he witnesses all the amazing things heaven has in store for us. I just finished reading "Heaven is For Real" and I am so....amazed.... about the things that this little boy, Colton, tells of heaven. But more that that, I am so at peace with the knowledge that my son is there and he will know us when we get there and we will know him..instantly. It brings me Joy on this day, this third anniversary of the day we learned that Cole would not be coming home with us that he, instead, lives in a home so filled with beauty, joy, love, peace and hope. It is hard, it is sad and it isn't what I ever wanted. But it is what it is, it is my life and I am making it all that it can be with the help of the Lord. I can feel joy today because I know that my son is there with Jesus, sitting on his knee and enjoying the most amazing things. It brings me Joy to know that because I have accepted Jesus and am building a relationship with Him, that I will (well this is how I perceive it and I'm sure some will argue this with me) go to Heaven one day and I will see my son again. My heart, today on this sad day, is still filled with joy.

Incidentally I do need to add that I do not believe that Cole left us this day three years ago and went to be Jesus. I truly believe that his spirit remained with us for the rest of the pregnancy and that he kept his mommy and his twin brother safe for the 10.5 weeks that I remained pregnant after his heart stopped beating. So this isn't really the third anniversary of the day Cole left us for Heaven, just the third anniversary of the day that changed our lives forever, the third anniversary of the day we knew that our twins would be born together to grow apart.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Laying it down for joy

James 1 :2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

This verse couldn't be more true, when trials come and we turn to God, He finally has our attention. We look up, with tear stained faces and ask "Why God?" Waiting, listening for some kind of answer or hope that He can give. And then we learn, we learn that trials make us stronger and teach us to rely on God more than anything else could.

Sometimes I ponder my life before our loss and wonder who I really was back then…and who I’d be today if we hadn’t experienced TTTS and the loss of one of our twins. Would I really understand the words hope, faith, peace and joy and would I know Christ. I have to think that I wouldn’t, I have to think that this journey needed to happen to bring this all into my life.
I wish it didn’t involve loss to get me there but I am so very happy with who I am, so very filled with joy!
I read this on a blog and thought…yup, this is me….
When I look back, I now see that my Perfect Storm was absolutely critical to my personal growth and my life’s work. Anything less earth-shattering wouldn’t have been powerful enough to rock me out of my complacency. It has taken over three years to reemerge from the other side of the abyss, and I am profoundly changed. With this transformation comes great Joy.
Crazy that this writer also said it took 3 years….I wonder how common that is???

I decided that I would post the words to a song that I’ve known for about 7 years. It was sung (okay over sung) at the school I was at for about 4.5 years, incidentally where I worked 3 years ago, where live changed. I am so glad I heard this song then so that I could turn back to it now…when I am really ready to let go of so many things and lay them down for the joy of the Lord.
I'm trading my sorrow
I'm trading my shame
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

I'm trading my sickness
I'm trading my pain
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord
And we say yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord Amen

I'm pressed but not crushed persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I'm blessed beyond the curse for his promise will endure
And his joy's gonna be my strength

Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning

That last line… I think maybe should be spelled ‘mourning’ sometimes…because I really do believe that I didn’t find joy by chance…it came with the mourning and turned the mourning into something so healing and so full of hope.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Joy... can I really write about this???

When I began this project I looked ahead to what theme we had for this week, the week where the anniversary of my life being changed forever fell, the anniversary of the worst day of my life. I thought of the four themes and thought of how I could write about each of them in this emotion charged week.
If it was the week of Hope I could write about the hope we had at Mt. Sinai. The hope an amazing medical team can bring. I could write about the song "With Hope" that I shared...because although I wasn't filled with hope that fated day, I learned that I could say goodbye with Hope, it was o.k. Or I could simply write about the hope that having a child in Heaven gives you....the motivation to be all Christ asks you to be to ensure salvation. The hope I had that I would see my son again.
Or maybe it would be the week of love. Writing about love on the week we relive those days would be easy for I knew of a love so intense and powerful then. The love I felt and still feel for Dr. Ryan and his team. The love I felt for my parents who dropped everything they were doing to come to Toronto to be with me. Or the love I had for my husband, for all he was then, all he showed me emotionally and all he held back. I could write about the outpouring of love that we received in the days and months the followed those first days. And most of all, I could write about the love I had for each of my twins and for what I've learned about love from a little boy who never took his first breath.
Or perhaps it would be the week of peace and I could write about the ways I found peace, even in just a small amount then or the ways I've found peace since then. Or even about some of the things that brought me peace then and now.
But Joy, now that would be a tough one.
How could I write about joy as I remember how dark that time was. How can I write about joy in a week that has so little joy in it. Last year at this time I wrote in this blog about how, maybe one day, I'd find joy in this day... "I hate this day and I am not sure I will ever NOT hate this day. I am very certain that in time this day will have joyful memories...of things we do, of things the boys do or say. But right now it just SUCKS!!! ... "I know that in time there will be happier thoughts of this day and that I will be able to cope better with it. I have hope...I didn't lose it that day or in the days that followed. I know that Cole is in an amazing place and that he is the lucky one. He will never live with stress, with illness, with pain, with heartache. I know he lives with loss, I know that he misses us all. But he has God and Jesus to comfort him and he is very aware of what the reasons are for him to be there and us to be here. And as life continues on and I can see those reasons more clearly I am sure that it will be easier for me too. But for now, for today, I am going to cry, I am going to feel a heart wrenching sadness, I am going to wish that life was different. It's just where I am, it's just who I am.
I wondered when I started this project how on earth I'd write about joy this week, how I'd find joy this week. I even said to Geoff that I wished this wasn't the week of joy, that it would be so much easier if it wasn't. But instead of agreeing with me, Geoff said that maybe this was the point, that God had brought it to me...that our angel day falls during the week of joy on the year I take this project on so that I will be forced to reflect on the hardest of the four for that week.
So I guess we'll see how I do.
Incidentally, today marks the beginning of this three day journey down memory lane that began with an ultrasound, an immediate rush trip to Toronto and four words that changed my life forever. Today I remember my naive optimism.