Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Quotes and reflections

This blog is written, largely on one I wrote almost 2 years ago. I've come a long way and yet some things are still the same... but positive, amazing things. It was wonderful for me to go back and read where I was and see how much I've done, especially in the area of TTTS support, awareness and fundraising.
So much of this entry today is just a repeat of that one but based on where I am now and what I've done.

Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out. - Vaclav Havel
I never realized until months after the crisis that I’d been living this Hope for many months on end. I was so full of hope...certain that it would and will make sense someday. I had a lot of 'some days' that it didn’t even come close to making sense and it was so hard to accept but now I think that I am past the worst of that. It isn’t easy and it isn’t the way I’d like for me to act sometimes but I can see that amazing things have happened because of something that has turned out so different than how I hoped.

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream. - Martin Luther King Jr.
In the midst of crisis, tragedy or heavy burdens it is often easy to lose hope. When this happens then life becomes hard to endure and it is so very hard to keep moving forward. All you want to do is go backwards. You become afraid of each new day, of might happen next. It seems like you just can’t go on. But with hope you are able to move forward, you are able to keep going despite not knowing what tomorrow brings because you know that no matter, you will survive, you will grow and the possibilities are endless.

Hope never abandons you; you abandon it. - George Weinberg
Hope, like the love of Christ, is always there. It never abandons you and it never ceases to amaze. It may not always be the ‘amazement’ you wanted but it is always there. Sometimes this seems like an impossible task, to keep hoping for the future when each day brings more and more bad news, tragedy and crisis. I remember thinking this when I was pregnant with the boys and TTTS hit our lives. At first I thought that all was well, we’d get through this ‘little surgery’, go home and be fine. I even wrote this in an email I sent out when I was diagnosed. But when those fated words were said, when my world shattered, I wanted to give up. I remember curling into a ball on that ultrasound table and sobbing, thinking this was it, life was not ever going to be the same and I couldn’t’ possible keep going. And then just when things were looking up abit my water broke. I remember saying to Geoff ‘when will this nightmare be over’. What a way to look at my pregnancy, my sons…a nightmare. But I’d lost hope, I abandoned it. Thankfully I found it again, or it found me. Thankfully it continues to find me and I it each and every day!

We have to go into the despair and go beyond it, by working and doing for somebody else, by using it for something else. - Elie Wiesel
Did she read my mind??? This is exactly where I was at about 2 years ago and where I continue to gather strength from now. I figure God has given me this loss for a reason, He's given me grief for a reason, He’s given me financial stress, marital stress and parenting stress for a reason and He's given me Hope for a reason. I don't know for sure what it is. I know that I was desperate to find a focus for my grief and to come up with some way to make all that we lost and all that we learned and gained have purpose. Something that would bring attention to the need for better monitoring and testing of identical twin pregnancies as well as raising funds for research, treatment, support and care of those going through it. And I did it, twice over. And I give hope to others on this journey regularly. I have found a relationship with Jesus Christ and have begun to rebuild a relationship with my husband. I’ve gotten beyond so much of that despair and I’ve gained so much through this hope.

These are the hardest times, especially when those who are younger than you take their leave, and there are times when I forget and permit myself to think that I am in the midst of death. But this is not so. It is life that surrounds me. Life. Life that is meant to be lived, its riches to be extracted. No, the Lord's promise is not for those who give up, but for those who forge ahead... - Leonora Wood

This is so true. God did not wish us to give up and die when life gets tough. It is at those times that He is there, picking us up, dusting us off and moving us ahead. Life is for the living, we can't change who's gone before us but we change how we live before we go. My son died before his time, he died before I got to hold him, touch him, kiss him.....but not before I got to love him. There is no way that such an innocent being would wish for me to be in Heaven with him instead of here with his twin brother.

....each day of the journey is precious, yours and mine - we must strive to make it a masterpiece. Each day, once gone, is gone forever. - John Wooden
The day Cameron was baptized, my dear friend Theresa did an amazing job of including Cole in the service by giving a sermon on worrying. It is so hard not to worry, it is so hard not to focus on the future and where you are going. But you can't focus on the unknown because if you do you lose sight of the present and you miss out on what is with you right now. Once a day is gone it is gone forever. I felt my pregnancy was like that. I worried so much about how I would deal with being the mom of two newborn babies and of the stresses that brought that I didn't appreciate the miracles inside of me. I noticed all the growth, the movements and the wonderment of their little bodies on the ultrasound machine but I did nothing to remember those moments or live in them. I couldn't take that back once Cole was gone, it was too late to take pictures of my belly then, too late to start writing about how I felt about them and the dreams I had. You'd think I would have learned but when my water broke and I was rushed back to Toronto and then London I didn't live in the moment and enjoy Cameron's movements and life, I stressed and worried. I have no pictures of the places I called home for 8 weeks of my life or of the doctors that saved my son, took care of me, welcomed my boys into the world.
I needed to put those worries with God and let Him look after's His job. And I am proud to say that I have come so very far in this area of my life. I do worry about things, about how I’ll pay the bills and what we are living without and what we should be living without instead of adding to our mounting debt but I know that if I spend all my time worrying about it I will miss what is in front of me. I will miss how much my children have come to appreciate simpler things, how much they’ve learned to work together and do things, like chores, because it is part of being in a family not because of what they’ll, selfishly, get out of it…like money. I would have missed the love that has grown between Geoff and I and the HUGE growth our relationship has taken…it likely would not have even happened. And most of all, I would have missed out on this amazing relationship that I am having with Christ.

And so I try my best to live in the present with my family. I try to only look at today and all the wonderful things they do today....not what they aren't doing yet compared to others and not most importantly, I try not to live in the past, in the world of 'what if'. Those days can't be changed, they are gone forever.
I have hope…do you?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Finding your way

I found this picture in my search for quotes, stories and inspiration from hope. I thought it really suited.
There really is only one way to find your way in life... through Hope and faith. With the hope of things to come, you can endure all things. With the hope of a way out, a way up and direction on the path less traveled you will go far. No one said life was easy, no one said this journey would never come without bumps in the road. There is no perfect path, straight road or easy choices as to with fork in the road to take. But if we remember that hope leads us forward and that the hope we have for the wonderful things in store for us, wonderful gifts from God, promises, possibilities and things we just can't even imagine then we will achieve great things.
All we need is to remember it is a one way path to Heaven if we have the hope of salvation given to us by Christ.
It really is that simple.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It began with a baby, it began with hope

As I said yesterday, this is a week to celebrate hope. To be filled with hope and expectation of the season ahead of us. To, as a Christian, be filled with the expectation and preparing my heart, mind and soul for the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. But more than that, as a Christian, I am filled with the hope of the second coming of Christ….because that is really what Advent means… a fact I just learned a few weeks ago.
‘What, you mean after all these years it’s not just a birthday party for Jesus? It’s not just a celebration of the day the Lord gave Him to all of us to save us from ourselves’? Well as I am learning…apparently not just that!
As I said yesterday, the theological Christian virtue of hope is defined as the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God's help.
That is what hope means to me. In this my own personal world, filled with financial stress, martial stress, parental and familial stress, grieving and memories….that is what gets me through… HOPE! The search for future good with God’s help, the knowledge that there is good there in my future, that there is a way out of this, there is an end, there is hope…but only with God’s help. I can’t do it alone. I know that it won’t be easy, I’ve lived through difficulties before and I’ll live through them again…and I’ll get through them all with the hope I have for my future.
In the greater world though there is not always such optimism. People can’t seem to find this hope, people can’t seem to understand how there can be hope when there is so much suffering and pain in the world. But those are the times we need to most hope. And It is not just hope for a better day or hope for the lessening of pain and suffering, although that is certainly a significant part of it.
I’ve been reading about this theme and was inspired by someone who suggested that It is more about hope that human existence has meaning and possibility beyond what is going on right now for us in our personal world or in the world at large. It’s a hope the our lives are not limited, not as narrow and minimal as we experience them to be. Many people have been raised to believe that we all have possibility, that we need to strive to do things bigger and better, that nothing is unattainable but this is a hard thing for many people to live by. It is so hard not to have doubts, not to be unsure. But this hope, this Christian Hope is more than that. It is that God is a God of new things, better things, wonderful things and so all things really are possible. (Isaiah 42:9, Matthew 19:26, Mark 14:36)
In the first century God’s people wanted Him to come and bring change, to release their oppression, to set them free. They were angry when those circumstances did not change immediately. We all fall into that trap. When things don’t change, when burdens seem more than we can bear and no end seems to be in site. We doubt, we question and we get angry too. But that is a short sighted view of the nature of hope. Our hope cannot be in these types of changes, these conditions and situations. No matter how badly we want them, how hard we think things are and how important these changes are to us. The reality of our existence is God’s people experience the physical existence in the same way everyone does. Christians get sick and die. Christians are victims of crime and war. Christians get hurt and killed in traffic accidents. Christians live in oppression, in poverty and in famine.
If the only hope we have is in our lives being ‘good’ or as we want them to be so that we can be content we will always be frustrated, if things are only ever as our dream self wishes we will be sadly disillusioned. That is why we hope, not in statuses, situations and conditions but rather in God. He has shown us over four thousand years that He is a God of change, of possibility , of restoration and of a transformation the goes beyond what we can possibly imagine. The greatest example of this is the Easter story…for Christ to die on the cross, for our sins and then to rise from the dead.
And that story begins with a baby in a manger. It began with the hope that God would come and continues with the hope that He will come again to reveal Himself to us as a God of possibility, of newness, of potential and of change. And so this time of year we think of that hope in the form of a newborn baby born in the most amazing circumstances and with such expectation and hope. What a perfect example of possibility, newness and potential a baby is! We wait with hopeful expectation that God will once again hear our cries, see the circumstances of the world and know our longing for a new world and better life. We hope that as He came as an infant, so He will come again.
My experience tells me that those who have suffered and still hope understand far more about God and about life than those who have not. Maybe that is what hope is about: a way to live, not just to endure or cope, but to live genuinely within all the burdens of life with a Faith that continues to see possibility when there is no sign of it in the world we live in, just because God is God.
This is the week of Hope. So many who have suffered and yet still have hope seem to understand God and life more others. And maybe that is what hope is about… a way to live, not just to endure, but to live genuinely within all the burdens of life with a Faith that continues to see possibility when there is no sign of it in the world, just because God is God.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent...a season of Hope

Today is the first day of the Advent season. Within the Christian churches the first candle that is lit is a candle of anticipation, of hope. It’s an interesting thought, interesting word. I blogged about hope and what it means to me here a few years ago and decided that sometime this week I will go back to that entry and expand it. But for today I just want to focus on the word hope..the meaning of hope.
The online dictionary I found defines it in a few ways…
1. To wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment or to look forward to with confidence or expectation
2. To have confidence; trust.
3. To expect and desire.
4. One that is a source of or reason for hope: the team's only hope for victory.
5. The theological Christian virtue defined as the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God's help.

I think we have all had times where we are filled with that kind of hope as in wishing for something, looking forward to something. For some people, their lives are filled with this kind of hope…with the confidence that it will be fulfilled. It’s an expectation and a desire and it keeps them going.
And what life that is… to look forward, in eager expectation, for the things that will happen in your life. To wake each day eager to begin, filled with the desire to complete each part of your day so that you can move on to the next part. This kind of hope sustains us, fills us with excitement and keeps us focused. But for those who are suffering, unsure of what each new day will bring this kind of hope isn’t always, and maybe even often, easily come by. There are miraculous stories of people who are suffering from life threatening illness, disease or circumstance that simply live and keep going on hope. I know, I did it. Each and every day from the time I learned I was pregnant with twins I hoped that I would continue to have an easy, healthy pregnancy. I had a confidence that more than bordered on na├»ve. And that was okay…because without that hope what did I have…worry and fear. I did have those things at the start and not every moment was filled with only hope but hope was always nearby, always a comforting friend.
And each hour that passed after we learned our boys had TTTS was filled with hope…and confidence. I never gave up hope that everything would turn out fine, I was petrified but I never went down that road where I didn’t come home with two babies. I just kept going, trusting all was well.
And each day after we lost Cole, especially after my water broke and I ended up in the hospital , I awoke feeling hopeful. Hopeful that a heartbeat would be detected, hopeful that there was still movement, hopeful that my boys at home would make it through without their mommy, hopeful that my marriage would survive this stress…. And I wasn’t disappointed, things did work out, hope sustained me.
But what if it hadn’t worked out, what would I have done? Where would hope be then? Well I guess the answer lies in what happened between finding out I was pregnant with twins, being diagnosed and then losing Cole. It wasn’t what I ‘hoped’ for…how can loss ever be what someone hopes for. But I did survive it just as I know that I would have if we had lost both of our boys.
Just as I know now that the trials that my life is full of now is not beyond hope. I wake each day with a confidence that I ‘won’t go down today’. I am fully aware of how tough things are for us, I live it and I know that the fallout of multiple months without 2 working parents will be felt for years to come. But I have hope, I know we will make it through, that we will learn from our mistakes…finally, that we will be better, stronger and more content. I have hope.
What more can I ask for?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

An Advent Project...I hope you will join me in

This year I’ve decided to take on an Advent project. I’ve thought a lot lately about what the season of Advent really means but more than that, I’ve been thinking of how I can focus on Advent and not on the sad memories that fill so much of December for me. I want change this year, I need change this year. I know that I am in a much better place and have things planned for Cole’s Angel Day that will surely bring me peace.
But that is just one day…one day in a month that contains days that bring back so much… days of loss of others in my life dating all the way back to high school. Days where ‘the world’ recognizes TTTS Awareness Day and I focus on spreading the word and sharing my boys story with others, remembering the journey we took and the treatments that were offered. Days where I remember exactly where I was when I learned of ‘a problem’, the drive, the diagnosis, the surgery, the news of the results, the waiting game. The day that became the worst day of my life. And the days that followed where I didn’t know how to cope, what would happen, if I’d make home from the hospital with any babies. The days that lead up and included a holiday that I didn’t want to celebrate, that I didn’t want to think about all the dreams I’d had for Christmases of the future involving matching outfits and matching toys. In total the month likely has about 8 days that don’t tie in, somehow, with reminders and memories.
And so it is time to have a new focus. It is a focus that may bring up some of these memories but they will contain thoughts and words of hope, of love, of joy and of peace.
I plan to use the themes for each week of Advent and to write each and every day about that theme. It might be something small, it might be a story that reminds of that theme, a poem or song I find, scripture or just thoughts of what that word/theme means to me.
I invite everyone who is reading this to join me. I think it is a great project and I plan to post a small bit of the blog post on facebook like many of my American friends did leading up to their Thanksgiving with the theme of being thankful. For example ‘This is the week of Hope. Today I think of the hope I found in each message, email, note, card or phone call I received during my hospital stay’…. Just a sample.
I will be starting an event page on facebook and hope that you will join me there too. Please comment here and please share the message too.
Thanks for your support on this much healing journey I take this year.