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Family Life Music



Tonight we celebrated Sean’s birthday in a traditionally nontraditional way. Greek food. For a man who didn’t like to profess to having favourites, this was something he enjoyed immensely as a family in those moments when he wanted to celebrate a victory or to even embrace a defeat. He would have been 42 today. It’s a far out emotion. Unlike my shallow self, he loved birthdays and the entering into a new year of life. I panic with birthdays. I panic with the inevitable process of aging. But 42. I think of the dreams he had and the visions, the endless vision he had for our family, for our community, for the church, and for every person he befriended. It was nonstop…and it is mind blowing how that the vision has stopped in time- to some degree- when he died at 40. Life has continued to move forward, of course, and I do believe we are beginning to learn the rhythm to this unfamiliar tune. Tonight after putting the kids to bed, I saw that it was only River who drew pictures in the birthday journal we made for Sean last year. Nola said earlier she wasn’t ready to write in it and Memphis, well, he’s a thinker. I don’t want to put pressure on the kids to have to do anything. I want to leave this journal as mere option- write it or not. Be free. My heart broke for River, though. He was quite young when Sean was diagnosed and really witnessed a lot of the gruesomeness sickness does to one’s well being. He missed out on a lot of the fun things his dad did or at least would have remembered him doing. To have been a 4 year old with a dad too sick to play or to go on adventures with, he seems to have this unspeakable grace for the whole thing. Does he not remember how horrible it was? Or perhaps he only remembers how loved he was by his dad and those other things don’t really matter to his young heart. I am not sure. For this Dennis the Menace meets Tom Sawyer boy, there is a kindness and an inner strength I pray continues to grow and develop with whatever diversity comes his way. God I pray he would remain grounded in the solidness only love truly can instil.

Family Journey Life Update

Letter To My Child

When we first received the news about the diagnosis, thousands of thoughts flooded my mind. One of the thoughts that wouldn’t leave me alone was, “what about my kids.” I love my kids! Each of them are amazing in their own unique way. I often wonder how well I am doing at raising them. I dream about their future and ponder what type of men and woman they will become as they grow older. Today i was looking through some old journals and came across a letter I wrote six months before Nola was born. Nola is our oldest, then Memphis and finally River. River is our miracle baby, but that is a story for another time. Below is the letter I wrote to Nola before she was born. We didn’t know what we were going to have at the time of this writing.

Letter to my child,

I often wonder about you! I have waited a long time for your arrival
and will continue to as you are only 14 weeks old as of today. I
couldn’t sleep tonight, so I thought I would write you a letter.
Your mother is sleeping right now. She needs her rest. It is 12:10AM
on Monday, August 26, 2006. It is quiet, yet the traffic on the highway
is steady. I wonder what you will look like? I often joke that I
want you to have your mother’s looks but my personality. Your mother
is so beautiful! I love her so much. Though we have not yet face to
face, I already love you with all my heart. You are so very special. I have
to be honest with you, I’m a little afraid. I don’t want to mess up raising
you. I want the best for you and your mother and I want you to have a
good life. This is our first time being parents and we don’t really know
what to expect. We are hopeful because of our faith. We pray for you on
a regular basis. The Lord is going to have tremendous plans for your life.
My first piece of advice for you is to love God with all your heart,
mind, and soul. The second piece of advice is to follow Jesus
wherever He leads you. Continually give yourself to the power
of the Holy Spirit because you my child are destined for greatness!
I love you and can’t wait to hold you in my arms for the first time.


Family Life

My Story | told by my parents…

Wow! Here we are on an airplane bound for Australia, a dream come true for our 25th Wedding Anniversary. As we were flying from Hawaii, Pat had just finished an article about drugs and signs that you should look out for if your child is on drugs. According to this article, if three signs were detected, there’s a good chance drugs were involved. We both looked at each other, and realized that Sean could qualify for all twelve. That’s how it all started for us about eight years ago. Yes, this is how the roller coaster ride began.

Sean was our chosen son. He was just ten weeks old when we got him. We loved him with all of our hearts. He came to us, a Christian family, who loved and wanted him as a member of our family. He was joined by his two sisters who were older than him. He came to us on a Good Friday. He was a cute, pudgy bundle of joy. God had answered our prayers. We were so excited to finally have our son.

As Sean grew up, he was very involved in all sports. He played all star soccer until he was 14, and he also excelled in hockey, rugby and basketball. Sports played a big part in his life. He also achieved the highest award in the Boy Scouts. He was the kind of son everyone hoped for. He always had lots of friends and seemed quite popular among his peers. Sean attended church and Sunday school as well as singing in the Junior Choir. He was always respectful of adults and seemed to be living the Christian principles we had taught him as a young boy. We were so happy as a family.

As his Mom, I loved him so much. I couldn’t see any signs of any problems or maybe I didn’t want to admit there were any. We were a good family. I am a nurse and my husband a carpenter. We attended church regularly and were very involved in our community. We seemed to be the perfect family with your everyday ups and downs. How could this be happening to us?

We went on our trip and when we returned, we began to realize something wasn’t right with Sean. We started to notice he was more despondent as well as withdrawn. His personality was changing, so we questioned him and he admitted to smoking pot. Not our only son! How could this be happening?

We decided to get some counseling. We went to the addiction centre to get some help on how to deal with this problem. Where had we gone wrong? We both felt terribly guilty. We raised all three kids the same . . . How could this happen? The more we tried to help, the worse it seemed to get.

We noticed over the next several months that Sean had changed friends, he’d sleep for long periods, he had mood swings and he started to be quite disrespectful. When he came home, his eyes would be bloodshot. We caught him in many lies. He seemed to be lying all the time. Things went missing from our home and we really didn’t want to believe that our own son would steal from us!

It was at this point we realized there was something bad that was threatening the very essence of our family. We felt so helpless; there was counseling for teenagers but nothing for the parents who were hurting so badly. It was at this time we discovered other parents were hurting from similar devastations. We decided to co-facilitate a support group for parents who, along with their teens, were in crisis.

Over the next few months, life as we had known it was evaporating quickly. We would find ourselves running in circles, wondering what to do next and how to fight this unknown enemy. We relied on our faith and the prayers of our friends and family to help get us through this very troubled time.

Our son would disappear for days at a time. We would find ourselves pacing in front of the window, crying and wondering where he was and if he was safe. Many times we wondered if the police would be coming to the door with bad news. We would be out driving around the city in the middle of the night, looking for him.

Sean’s behavior became more and more erratic. By this time, he had dropped out of school. He was becoming more involved with the local drug scene and dealers. We became very suspicious and started checking his room. Soon we found drug paraphernalia and drug literature hidden in his room with actual drugs. It wasn’t until after Sean entered Teen challenge that he told us he hid the drugs in the suspended ceiling our rec room. How naive we were. Because of the effect this was having on our family, we had to come to terms and make some tough decisions. There were terrible fights and arguments, some almost becoming physical at times. There were tears in our home almost every day. What was once a happy home was now in severe crisis.

We decided we were not going to allow our family to be destroyed anymore. Therefore, we told Sean that he would have to leave if he could not live by the rules we set down, and go for help. He could no longer stay with us. This was one of the most difficult decisions we had to make as parents. We told Sean that we would always love him and that God loved him, but we did not approve of his lifestyle.

For a while, peace began once more to settle back in our lives. We became more involved with our parents’ group and the war on drugs. The rest of our family became more aware of what was taking place in our lives. We became more resolved to not let the enemy win. We knew God was leading us . . . all we had to do was follow and let him guide us.

The heartache and pain became almost unbearable at times. We relied upon our faith and the prayers of our family and friends. We became more determined to get our son back. We can’t remember the number of times we turned this over to God, then took it back again. Finally, with God’s help, we made the decision that if Sean was to be helped, it would be God that would do it in His time and His way. All we could do was to pray and make sure Sean knew we loved him, and that God loved him, and others were praying for him.

For the next few years, we rode a roller coaster of ups and downs. Every so often, when we thought Sean had hit his rock bottom, the light at the end of the tunnel would start getting brighter. Then, something would try to extinguish it. The cycle would start again. Through this time, our commitment to our parents’ group grew. We began to realize there were many families hurting and being torn apart by drugs and alcohol. Some of the stories we heard, situations these people were going through, tore at our hearts. We knew there was no magical formula; however, with allowing God to help, we knew he would get us through this.

Sean was always able to keep a job. He was lucky. He never ended up in jail, although many addicts do. He ran up many debts and seemed unable to keep an apartment. We helped him out a few times, and soon we realized we weren’t really helping him at all. It broke our hearts when we went to one apartment at Christmas time. It was up on the second floor of an old house. We went up an old staircase and knocked on the door. Sean answered; he looked awful and was coughing. The apartment was dark and cold. He had all of his stuff in a front room. We could see how he had tried to bring a bit of Christmas tradition where he had a string of Christmas lights hanging in one corner of the room. There was an old couch and an old rug on the floor. He slept in a little area off this room, with dirty blankets and a terrible smell permeating the whole apartment. There wasn’t any food in the kitchen. Was this what God want for our “chosen son”? No, but this is what Sean chose for himself. He eventually got evicted from there.

We continued to believe that Sean would change. After all, we loved him so much. We agreed to help him find a new apartment. He had some nice furniture and gradually had a really nice place. It wasn’t too long after that we started to realize that he was heavy into drugs again. He looked terrible – dressed poorly, very pale, and had lost a lot of weight.

We found out that he was going to be evicted again! I couldn’t imagine what he was going to do, so we went over to the apartment to see if we could do anything. At first Sean was very rude to us, told us to get out and asked what we were doing there. The apartment contents were all packed up and there was stuff everywhere. We couldn’t seem to get through to Sean. He didn’t want anything to do with us. He wouldn’t talk to us, and ran to hide in the broom closet. We looked all over for him. It was like he was a scared animal. We finally found him cowering in the corner of the closet, all curled up in a ball, crying. We were crying as well but we couldn’t get through to him. We tried to hug him but he got mad and ran out of the apartment.

Later that day we found out Sean was going to leave the city by bus, so we went down to the bus station and watched for Sean. He was nowhere to be seen, but just as the bus was ready to leave, he came out of the bushes. To this day, we are not sure if it was an angel at that door or what, but we blocked the door to the bus and told Sean he was not going to run away, that we loved him, and together we would work it out. He was very angry and stormed off. Pat immediately ran after him. There they were running down the train tracks, all 5 feet and 2 inches of Pat chasing after 6 feet and 5 1/2 inches of Sean, yelling at him to come right back and listen to her. It is really quite funny now, but we knew if he had gotten on that bus, things would not have turned out like they have today. Again, Sean turned away from us and ran.

A few days later we found him on the streets and persuaded him to go to the hospital for some help. Unfortunately, there they only sedated him with Valium and really did nothing. He was discharged. He had lost everything, his friends, his dignity, his belongings.

It was shortly after this incident that his sister decided that she would try to help him and let him stay with her for a couple of weeks, until he could get some help. He eventually broke all the rules at her place and found himself out on the street again. We didn’t know where he was but knew he was at his wits end. We prayed for his safety.

Then, one Saturday at 6:30 am, Sean found his way to our front step. At first he wouldn’t come in and said he just wanted his clothes. We could tell he was hurting, so we made him come in and have a shower, telling him he could leave right after that. He couldn’t look us in the eyes. He was cold, wet and dirty, covered in mosquito bites, half of his face was numb and he was coughing up blood. Our hearts were broken. We remembered that first day we got him, so sweet and innocent as a baby. How could this have happened to our little boy?

We convinced him to come in and go downstairs to use the shower. Shortly after, we found him sitting down with his head buried in his hands and crying. He said he couldn’t go on the way he was going anymore. Sean finally wanted help. We held each other and cried. We had heard about Teen Challenge Farm from our daughter Micheline’s pastor. He had gone through the program and told her all about it. Could that be the answer?

We needed somewhere to turn. Nothing else seemed to work. Sean had been in a secular centre for 30 days and got kicked out of there. We made the first call and spoke to Paul Pardy. He suggested Sean phone, which he did. We did a lot of praying that day. Sean arranged an interview. We took him over. We were really impressed that day, having been given a tour of the Farm. This could be the answer, but it had to be Sean’s commitment, not ours.

Sean had to wait a few weeks before finding out he was accepted. God had answered our prayers! He was in! We breathed a sigh of relief, but the hard work was ahead of him. There was no magic cure after he walked through the gates. We really prayed that day. We prayed that Sean would stay and that the Holy Spirit would surround him and help him beat this addiction. He has since told us that he was into all the hard drugs, cocaine, heroin, speed, etc. At the time, we didn’t want to even think about that. It was so frightening to think of the hold that drugs can have on a person. Many times we realized that we were not seeing our son but the effects that drugs had on him.

The first phone call from Sean from Teen Challenge Farm was unforgettable. He said he had never heard so much about God, God, God in all his life! We just listened and kept on encouraging him. As the months went by, we began to see glimpses of our son come back. On several occasions he would call and say he wanted to come home, but we just said “no” and encouraged him. We found out later that his councilors were so supportive and were there to talk him through these down times.

Now, twelve months later, we can say that God has freed Sean of his addiction. We now have our son back. Praise God! We are so proud of him. He has graduated from the Teen Challenge program and is now working as an intern for Teen Challenge in British Columbia. We don’t know where God will lead him but we know that God has always had a plan for Sean’s life.

God working through Teen Challenge has been the answer to our prayers. We are so grateful to everyone at Teen Challenge. Through this past year, we’ve seen men’s lives changed all to the glory of God.

We only share this story with you so that you too can have hope. God’s love can change the life of your son. Along with the commitment and dedication of all the staff at Teen Challenge, miracles are happening. We thank Teen Challenge and praise God for our very own miracle.

Journey Life Update

Castle Fun Park – A Scary Trip

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but …


I had just finished my treatment at the doctors when I got an idea to take the kids to Castle Fun Park. We jumped in the Flex and headed east to CFP. The entire ride the kids couldn’t contain their excitement. It was like someone had given them a 2L of Coca Cola to drink before they got into the car. We arrived after a 10 minute ride, and went immediately to purchase our tickets. One of the traditions we have when we visit CFP is the kids get a blue slushy to drink. I think this is the highlight of the trip for the rugrats. After getting some food and their blue slushies, it was time to head upstairs and play some games.

It was our first time at CFP in a few months. They had obviously done some renovations and upgrades since we were there last. It was a blast watching the kids have so much fun. We are one of those families who haven’t really let their kids get involved with video games (and we are ok with that).

We made our way around the arcade. Each kid had their own card and could decide what games they wanted to play. It is hilarious watching 3 kids trying to figure out what game they wanted to play. I think they were on sensory overload. Part way through our evening, Memphis decided that he wanted to play ‘dome hockey.’ How many remember ‘dome hockey?’ I am not too sure if that is even the name, but oh well, that’s what we call it. We headed over to the game and made our teams. It was Nola & River against Memphis & Dad. Earlier I started to feel a bit dizzy, but nothing too much. I ignored it, and kept playing with the kids. A couple of minutes into our game and the dizziness seemed to increase, and the next thing I know – I hit the ground!

I had passed out. Where was I? How did I get here. All I remember is playing with the kids on the ground – or at least that’s what I thought I doing. Panic started to set in. I was scared. Not for me, but for my kids. They had no idea what was going on. I was out of control. Thankfully, there were two guys playing pool who had seen what had happened. They were concerned. I am sure they thought I was drunk. They called for help, and a few seconds later, two ladies showed up. I made my way to a car video game, and sat down. I still didn’t know what was going on. Nola is crying, the boys seem to be oblivious, the room is spinning, and I have no idea what is going on. Crazy! Nothing like this has ever happened to me. Things seemed to be settling down, and I was beginning to feel better after a few minutes. I called Jamie, and she arranged for the kids and myself to be picked up by our good friend Lizzie.

After a couple of minutes we headed downstairs to wait for our ride. The ladies with us were amazing! They did a fantastic job calming the kids, and even played a few games with them while we waited. Five minutes later, Lizzie & Jill showed up. As soon as I saw them I lost it. I don’t think I have ever cried so hard. I was scared – but mostly for my kids. I was relieved to see them. They just wrapped their arms around me, and assured me everything was going to be ok.

It was time to go home…

Check out the below video of our scary adventure to Castle Fun Park. You actually see the moment I pass out.

FYI – I am fine. There is nothing to worry about.



Humans are incredible! Have you ever stopped and thought for a minute or two just how awesome we really are? Stay with me for a second. I am well aware that in this world there have been inconceivable and horrible atrocities carried out by humans over the years, but let us not focus on them. Rather, let us fix our attention on all the incredible humans who have made this world a better place.

As I sit in treatments 16 hours a week, I have had the pleasure of meeting some incredible people. People who are fighting for their lives on a daily basis. These individuals are not alone. Behind each one of them are families, friends, and support groups who are willing to do whatever it takes to see their loved ones become well. Recently, I have had the pleasure to meet two extraordinary men who are up against some pretty big odds.

Stan (not his real name) has been diagnosed with brain cancer and just had a tumour the size of a medium orange removed from his brain. He is a fascinating man. He is optimistic that he will beat his diagnosis. He has made some drastic changes in his life to give himself the best chance to live. He has a very loving and supportive wife who is with him every treatment. Remember, we are here 16 hours a week, working at getting healthy. It is so encouraging to see and hear the love and the support they have for one another. Stan is one incredible human!

Pete (not his real name) has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His story is very raw, and powerful. He is an older gentleman who was recently married. While away on his honeymoon, he became ill. When they arrived back, he made a doctors appointment to see what was the problem. After some testing, it was confirmed he had cancer of the pancreas. He had been given only months to live. What makes this story heart breaking, is that this is his wife’s second marriage and her first husband passed away because of cancer. Obviously, she is devastated about the news of her husband, and I think Pete is hurting deeply for his wife as they walk through this difficult season. You can see the pain on his face and the hopelessness in his voice when he speaks. Although they face this difficult time, they remain vigilant, and are doing all that they can to give him the best chance at life. Pete and his family are incredible humans!

What about you? Do you know any incredible humans? I would love to hear about them.