There is always hope.

Sitting on our kitchen counter is a block print of a Banksy work of street art. Since Bristol-based celebrated graffiti artist Banksy is somewhat local to us, we’ve always been big fans of his thought-provoking, often provocative works of art. From a work showing a crucifix where Jesus is holding Christmas shopping bags as a statement of what Christmas has become, to a child stitching flags as a scathing statement against government-sanctioned child labour, his works of art are often a satirical commentary on the state of the world. There is one in particular, though, that has always struck a chord in me. It’s an image of a little girl standing in front of a gust of wind, letting go of a red heart-shaped balloon. Seeing it always stirs up thoughts in me of a loss of childhood wonder & innocence; a little girl choosing to let go of her child-heart when faced with the harsh realities of life. It would potentially be a dark, depressing picture of the inevitable loss of childhood faith and optimism if it weren’t for these words written next to it: There is always hope.

Image result for banksy there is always hope

It’s not known for sure whether Banksy wrote these words to go along with his stencil or if someone else decided to juxtapose the image of loss with this truth; the truth that no matter how much loss and grief we may face, it can never eliminate all hope. I’ve found that this is a truth that, though it is so simple, has the power to transform how we live life. How would we live if we truly believed that, even when faced with unthinkable circumstances and loss, there is always hope?

I have had to face this question again in my life recently. A few weeks ago, unbelievably, I found another lump. After having gone through two separate surgeries and intensive nutritional therapy for ten months, this came as a huge blow to us. Especially after we got the news back from the doctors that this time it didn’t look like surgery could be an option. Thankfully the CT scan showed that it hadn’t spread and was still localised to the lymph nodes in the same area as before, which came as a surprise to the doctors. After another long consultation with the oncologist, we came away having to make a hard decision. She reiterated what she had told us before, that because it is the rarest and most aggressive type of breast cancer there is (grade III, stage 3c and triple negative) and because of my age and circumstances, chemo would most likely not be effective in my specific situation. We had already started looking at other options before this happened, and thankfully already had made plans for me to go see a health and wellness treatment centre run by believers in Germany that we had been personally recommended.

I found it to be an incredible place, combining an intensive medical and natural treatment plan (custom-made, based on individual lab and blood test results) with emotional and spiritual healing and prayer in a peaceful, welcoming and restful atmosphere. They have many success stories of people who have come from around the world, many with more advanced stages of cancer who were only given days left to live, who were miraculously able to turn it around and live long, healthy lives (some of who we know of personally). After a series of events that seemed to confirm this is the way forward for me, I made plans to come back for an extended time of three weeks of intensive treatments.

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A typical first course of lunch in the Wellness Café

These last few weeks have been challenging in more ways than one. The biggest challenge we’ve been getting to grips with has been to find the balance between living in wisdom, yet not allowing fear or worry to have any hold on our minds, and living in faith, yet not living with blinkers on shielding us from the facts or with our heads in the sand. We’ve had to have some hard conversations. There have been hard moments where the full harshness of the situation has made itself all too clear.

I had one moment recently where the possibility of having to leave my loved ones finally hit me like a sledgehammer with full force. It broke me. I had a strange experience of being detached from myself, looking down at my body collapsed on my knees with half an avocado in my hand, weeping my heart out on the kitchen floor. I had to come face to face with the very real possibility of having a life cut far too short. Yet, and I know this sounds crazy, it wasn’t a fear of death that overcame me. I had read this book a few years ago that completely changed my mind set about death. It changed how I viewed the end of life as we know it. I believe that facing death is not the end. I believe that it is only a stepping stone to the fullest, most thrilling adventure we could ever undertake. That there is more than we could imagine waiting for us on the other side. More intense pleasure, more freedom, more pure unadulterated happiness and sheer joy than we could ever experience in this broken world. I believe that this is the world we were made for, the world that the deepest parts of us craves and is homesick for. C.S. Lewis puts it like this:

“If we find in ourselves a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, we can only conclude that we were not made for here.”

So no, I wasn’t a wreck on the kitchen floor because I was feeling sorry for myself (though that is a totally valid response to anyone going through something like this and I have definitely had moments of doing that before). Thankfully because of my paradigm shift that had taken place before any of this happened, I can honestly say it wasn’t that I was concerned about myself. Of course, I would have regrets or things that I wished I had had the time to do with my life. But the most painful part of being hit with the possibility of this was thinking about my loved ones being left behind. My amazing family and friends, who have stood by me, supported me and who have loved me so well this last year. My incredible husband, who has sacrificed and given up so much of himself and his hopes and dreams to keep our family together. My beautiful little boy who brings so much life and joy wherever he goes, who loves nothing more than sitting on my lap, snuggling in and having giggle fests at random noises and words he comes up with.

The truth is, I couldn’t imagine them living life without me. I didn’t want to. I think the reason why I never was able to fully face the harsh facts was because I didn’t want to think that they would have to go on without me. And, although it was hard and I do still believe wholeheartedly that I am going to make it through this and live a long life worth living, I believe this was a necessary part of letting go. Of getting to the point where I could genuinely release my family and have the pressure taken off of feeling it was all on me. It was hard. But it was beautiful. It was freeing. And it made it possible for me to think about leaving them for an extended time of treatments, which I could never have imagined doing before. It’s still hard being away. But I can give them up to God and know that it’s not up to me to take care of them – it’s up to Him. And this is one of the most freeing things I’ve ever experienced.

After these hard conversations and moments, it would have been easy to dwell on the what ifs and dark possibilities of what’s ahead in the name of living in wisdom. Yet this is where faith comes in as the counterbalance. It’s been the kindness of God that, after carrying me through this hard experience of letting go, He has confirmed again and again that there is more in store for me. That this is not the end. That my dreams and hopes for my future are nothing compared to what He has in mind, and that this is only the beginning.

I’ve just arrived in Germany and have the guest house where the treatment centre is almost completely to myself. For an extreme extrovert and verbal processor like myself, finding it hard enough already being on my own and away from my husband and little boy (especially on Thanksgiving Day!), this could feel like a prison sentence. Instead, I’m seeing it as a retreat; a time to rest, get the treatment I need and have some spiritual rejuvenation. Time to write and come to terms with this news we’ve been given.

Time to come to a place of balance of living in wisdom, of being aware of the facts, yet living in faith in the conviction that this is not the end of my story. To get to a place of being able to be thankful and stay thankful in all things. I’m slowly learning to live from the place of knowing that no matter the circumstances, there is always, always hope.

Sunrise overlooking the fields surrounding the treatment center

(PS – Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers! May we all learn to be thankful every day, not just today;)

How can I be thankful after having a child with Down Syndrome and then being told a diagnosis of cancer – all before the age of 27?


Let’s be honest. After everything we’ve been through, most would think I shouldn’t be sane right now, let alone thankful and living a happy, fulfilling life. After seven years of one hard thing after another, how is it possible to rise above it all to live a healthy, whole life? This question would not leave me alone for years. It wasn’t until I realised this that I was able to raise my head above the water:

The key to rising above hard circumstances to live a full, wild, joy-filled life comes down to this one thing: being thankful. 

Let me be clear – I’m not thankful for cancer itself and would never wish it on anyone. I’m also not thankful for the developmental delays and health issues that are caused by our son having Down Syndrome (although in my opinion, these pale in comparison to the positive aspects of DS). Cancer is different. I hate cancer. I hate everything it stands for. I hate what it does and has done in the past to myself and others that I know and love. I hate how the very word is enough to strike fear into anyone who has the unbelievable hardship of hearing it come out of a doctor’s mouth.

Thankfully, my last CT scan was clear (!!) after ten months img_1505of going through two separate surgeries, intense nutritional therapy, a complete overhaul of diet and lifestyle and physical, emotional and spiritual detoxing. Thank God.

It is still a battle. There have been many times when I have thought that this chapter of my life was over, only to have another worry, another concern, another fear rear its ugly head. At first, I thought I could only be thankful after coming out on the other side of this valley. I’ve now learned that it’s more important to be thankful and stay thankful when you’re in the middle of it, and this is what makes all the difference.

When I was first told the diagnosis, I couldn’t even say the ‘C’ word without feeling emotionally overwhelmed and completely inadequate to deal with everything that comes with it. Yet now, when I look back over this and the many hard times we’ve had before, I don’t wish that these times had never happened. I feel the bittersweetness that I can imagine a wind-torn and half frozen mountain climber feels after conquering Everest. I look back over my life and, from this viewpoint, can see how every hard thing we’ve gone through have been little mountains that we’ve had to conquer as practice for this, our Everest.  I see now that out of every single time of hardship we went through, including this sheer cliff of a challenge of getting through cancer, that unbelievably – good has come out of it. Every time.

This last decade has not been the easiest so far – to make a massive understatement. For the last seven years we have been blindsided again and again by one thing after another. My sister put it well when she said it was as if we kept getting hit by a bus. Then we would finally manage to get to our feet and be able to stand again, only to get slammed. Again. And again. If a publisher was given the story of my life as a novel, they would most likely throw it out for being too unrealistic. What are the odds that this many hard things would happen to one person?

Being told I had to leave my home country of Israel because I couldn’t get a long-term visa when I was 19. Being denied entry into the UK just after getting engaged to my British now-husband at 20. Then being told I would be deported and being held for 32 hours (the legal limit is 24) in a narrow holding cell with 10-12 others without being told any official reason why (also illegal). Getting personally sued as a named defendant for sending out an email for my boss in my first job out of university at 23. Being thrilled at getting IMG_2954pregnant with our first child at 24, only to find out at the 20 week scan that our child would most likely have severe brain damage and possible problems with his heart. Our baby making a miraculous recovery and the opposite happening to what the consultant projected – only to find out an hour after the difficult birth that our child has Down Syndrome. This happened at 25 years old.

Then, this. At 26, just when we had picked ourselves up and had come to terms with having a child with additional needs, I then got hit with cancer. Seriously, what are the odds? I seem to be an expert at being the one in a thousand.

And yet, unbelievably, there’s still more. This is hard to share, because it is by far one of the hardest things we’ve had to walk through. 

Two days after the shock diagnosis, I found out — I was pregnant. After I did the test I locked myself in the bathroom and sat on the floor for about an hour processing the news. This news, the news that we had been eagerly waiting for since we had started trying again earlier that month, now brought on a whole new onslaught of extreme emotions. Disbelief. Fear of the future. Fear of the implications of going through cancer treatment while being pregnant. Anxiety. All of these, along with feelings of being hopelessly overwhelmed, were mixed in an emotional cocktail with feelings of joy, elation and a hope that somehow, in the middle of all this darkness and sadness, there could be a ray of happiness – that one thing in our lives at least was happening how we wanted.

Until. A week after I went through extensive surgery to remove the tumour, we went to the 12 week scan. Even though there had been risks with having a general anaesthetic while being pregnant, we were reassured that if anything were to happen with the baby, it would happen right away. As of yet, there had been no sign or symptoms of anything wrong, so we went fully expecting everything to be fine. Until we heard those awful words – we can’t find a heartbeat.

Blindsided. Again. The one happy thing in our lives, the one ray of hope we had in the middle of the darkest time of our lives, gone. We were crushed. I had what is called a silent miscarriage – the baby had stopped growing at 8 weeks, 4 weeks before the scan, but I had no symptoms or signs whatsoever that anything was wrong. 

Sadly, we discovered afterwards that this is all too common, though it is never talked about. In one friendship group I have, four of us had similar heartbreaking experiences of this within two years of each other. Four out of six. Unbelievable. The fact that this happens so often is a heart-wrenchingly hard truth – yet it is a truth that never gets talked about. Our culture has made it into a taboo subject, so much so that many parents go through the grief of losing their child silently on their own. Most have no idea that there are so many others that have been through the same thing and would grieve along with them, supporting and loving them, if they only knew. As hard as it is to be open and vulnerable in our grief, we feel we need to let others know that they are not alone. Light does eventually break through the dark.


Our baby at 8 weeks.

The day after being told that we had lost the baby, we found out more hard news. When the doctors examined what they had removed after the surgery, they discovered that the tumour had grown to twice the size and had spread to 6 out of my 19 lymph nodes on that side (thankfully these were also removed in the surgery). This made it stage 3(c) cancer – one stage before it would become terminal. They said that the tumour had been a millimetre away from my chest wall and if it had spread further, it would have been inoperable and incurable. As it was, they said there was a good chance that it had already spread to other parts of my body (which would make it terminal), and booked in an MRI scan for the end of that week. Still reeling from this news, two days later I then went through the surgical procedure to remove the baby.

Unbelievable. That hellish week was the hardest week we’ve ever had to go through in our lives. By far.

It makes no sense. My life so far reads like one of those ridiculous movies where every possible thing that could go wrong does go wrong. Of course there were also a lot of highs in between all the lows in the last seven years: I got engaged; got a first in a media degree at university (a university I got into as a direct result of being put in that holding cell – good did come out of it in the end); got married to my best friend and one who has been a rock and an anchor to me; started a business; released my debut album & I had a beautiful, perfect son. And after preparing ourselves (twice) for being told that I would only have weeks left to live and somehow trying to coming to terms with this, we went to the appointment to get the results of the scan and it showed that miraculously, it hadn’t spread and there was no visible sign of cancer left in my body!


Leaving the hospital after the first surgery

And now, after going through everything we have, I can honestly say that I am thankful for everything that’s happened in my life. I can even say, now, that I am thankful for the good things that have come out of having a child with Down Syndrome and from going through cancer.

Cancer has changed me – I would even say for the better. It has given me perspective like nothing else I’ve been through. It has given me a passion to live life well. A knowledge that I can’t take my health for granted, giving me the motivation I needed to treat my body with the value and respect it deserves. It has given me an insatiable desire to go after my dreams and desires, to live a life of meaning now, instead of thinking I have years to do everything I want to do. It has taught me these things:

  1. To live a life of gratitude. 

    When hard things happen, the lifeline that keeps you from sinking into the pit of self-pity, bitterness and depression is this: staying thankful.

    I honestly believe that staying thankful is the only thing that’s kept me sane. I’ve held on to it for dear life; I found that whenever I would find myself sliding into the temptation of wallowing in self-pity, cynicism or bitterness that would eventually lead to depression, I would consciously choose to find something to be grateful for and it would snap me out of it. Every time. I heard it said once that even if 90% of your life is in pieces and only 10% is good, take that 10% and be thankful for it. Eventually, the more you focus on that 10%, the sooner it will grow to 15%. And so on, until soon that 90% won’t be ruining your life anymore; it will shrink until all that is left is that which you are thankful for. I have also heard this said:

    Be thankful for the bad things that happen in life, for they open your eyes to the good things you weren’t paying attention to before.                                       – Unknown author

    This is so true. I am now so thankful for every breath I take – even the ones that feel like they are tearing out of my lungs when I go running (and people who know me know the fact I choose to go running now is a miracle in itself). I know now I can’t take the good things in life or even life itself for granted. I am grateful to have been given the life I have and the husband and family (both my physical family and our extended family of our community and friends) I have, who have supported me like I never would have imagined possible. I am beyond thankful for our little boy.


    Our boy loving his cake at his 2nd Mexican Fiesta birthday party

    Most would think that having a child with special needs on top of going through cancer would (to say the least) be a burden and added difficulty. For us and others I know who have been through similar things, it has been the opposite. He helped us get through this time more than anything else after our faith, family and community. 

    And I am beyond thankful to God for giving me my life back. As I said in my last post, I don’t believe for a second that God causes hard things to happen to make us better people. But I do believe that he is the master of the turnaround. I believe that though he grieves with us while we’re in it, somehow he always manages to bring good out of the worst circumstances in the end. Every time, and after the questions and the fears and the doubts and the rantings fade away, every time I am grateful for it.

  2. To live a life of conscience. Before this happened, I tended to go through life like it would last forever and that there would be no consequences to my health from the choices I would make. My teen years consisted of eating a sugar-coated cinnamon bun and drinking a bottle of coke every day for lunch, and living off of frozen pizza and fluorescent-orange-toxic-waste-coloured macaroni and cheese out of the box (not even an exaggeration). I was always the one who would pretend it was my time of the month and that I was suffering from cramps to get out having to do the mile run at school (no lie). Later on, while my eating habits changed, I always had intentions to start exercising but never got around to it. Since I had a pretty high metabolism, I never had any motivation to get healthy – until now. Getting cancer was a wake up call. It showed me that, despite what I subconsciously believed before along with most other twentysomethings, I am not invincible. It has given me the motivation needed to live a life conscience of wellness. I now choose to eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet (more on that later) and live a healthy, preventative lifestyle that now has me, ironically, feeling the healthiest I’ve ever felt in my life.

    What a post-run breakfast looks like these days

    Living a life of conscience means knowing that every single choice I make has the potential to bring life or, on the flip-side, take away that potential of life.

  3. To live a life of meaning. I recently met with some friends from school that I hadn’t seen in nearly ten years and as we were reminiscing, one of them said that the main thing that had changed in her life since our school days was the definition of living a meaningful life. I couldn’t agree more. It’s no longer about having the perfect career, perfect marriage or perfect family. For me, it comes down to this question: who am I serving? Einstein puts it like this:

    Only a life lived in the service of others is a life worth living.

    In other words, life has no meaning unless you’re using it to serve others. ‘Serving’ is a loaded word in our culture of me-first, look out for number one, do anything to get ahead. To us enlightened millennials born in the age of reason, of information and of over-achievement, what is the point of spending our time serving anyone that doesn’t help us get ahead in some way? Since all this has happened, I look at it a different way. When life is so short and when what really matters all boils down to the people that you impact with your life, what is the point of only serving yourself? Luke puts it well when he says, what is the point of gaining the world if, in the process, you lose your very self?

Above all, going through something like this makes you reevaluate and rethink everything, including what you think about God.

Believe in God or not, being faced with the very real prospect of meeting your Maker makes you brutally honest about what you think about him.

Going through this shook me and my faith. It shook everything I thought I knew, but after all the earthquakes and shakings finally stopped, what has been left is a faith that is stronger than ever before. It shook off all the insignificant, superficial things that we tend to think are so important, and made me realise that what’s important in life all comes down to getting my life right with my Maker. It’s about choosing life every day. It’s about living in a very real relationship that’s built on trust and a knowledge that there is hope for the future. It’s about living a life of gratitude, a life of conscience, and a life of meaning.

Going through everything we have has made me realise that above all, life is fleeting. All of what we think is so important can be gone in an instant. It has made me see what really matters and how I can live my life in a way that counts. And now I can honestly say, I’m thankful in all of it.

The Modern Myth of Parenthood


2014 has been a year of polar extremes for us – to put it lightly. It’s been a year of unbelievable highs and lows that would rival any world-class roller coaster. We have experienced the most difficult and challenging, yet by far the most fulfilling and joy-filled times we have ever known.

It’s now been over a year from the moment we first knew we weren’t having the dream pregnancy and first child-experience we thought we would. Just before Christmas 2013, our world was turned upside down in an instant. From the moment we were first told in our 20-week scan that there was a problem with our baby, to being told after the birth that Caleb was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, until now, this past year has been a journey into parenthood far different to how we thought it would look. Yet it has surpassed all our expectations to be the most thrilling, life-changing, challenging and fulfilling experience we have ever had. I have discovered things about parenthood that I wasn’t expecting, that go against everything that the world has told or implied to me about parenting. And I have learned much that has caused me to question how we as a society in the west view raising children. I have learned this:

1. Parenthood is a fierce joy.

IMG_0277It is a tidal wave of love that is overwhelming in the power of its strength. It is an instinct of being willing to go to any lengths to protect your child from harm, a warrior instinct that is almost frightening in its ferocity – even before they are born. It is a joy that makes your heart feel full to bursting every time you hold them and look into their smiling, fully trusting eyes that reflect a small piece of who you are. It is everything we were made for and, in my experience, one of the best, most fulfilling things you can ever do with your life.

Yet how is it that on a daily basis, we are told by our culture and society that focusing on raising a child (any child, let alone one with special needs) or children is a waste of your life? That life is over as soon as a child comes on the scene, that it’s impossible to do anything that you’d like to do after having a child so you’d better do everything you possibly can before that terrifying day arrives? Forget traveling. Forget living your dreams. Forget having a life of your own, because as soon as that baby comes you cease to exist as a person.

This is what our culture would have us believe. And because of this people are waiting later and later to have children. There has been a huge increase in the last few decades in the use of IVF because of infertility, many times because couples are in their mid to late thirties before they finally feel ready to ‘settle down’ and start a family – only to find they are now heartbreakingly unable to do so. I personally know people who have done this, who have told me they now wish they had started trying for children earlier as they no longer can have any of their own. Yet we are being told constantly by the media, our peers and our culture that life is over when you have children – so we need to put our other desires, passions and dreams first whatever we do.

Then, there is the other extreme the world tells us – that you can have a baby if you want to, but if you do, nothing should change. A baby is an accessory, an additional token of a successful life that can and should be handed over to someone else to raise when they become inconvenient or get in the way of our career, our wants, our ambitions. These children many times become orphans in their own homes, closer to the nanny that raises them than to their own parents who they hardly ever see. Of course there are many times when this is unavoidable, when in order to provide for their family both parents have to work. Yet the same world and society we live in that has made this so often a necessity then drives guilt and condemnation into us for not being there for our children. It’s a catch-22 that creates so much frustration and fear that it can often put people off having children altogether, or at least until much later on in life when they feel they can afford it.

These are some of the lies and fears that are subtly and sometimes not-so-subtly driven into us on a daily basis. Consciously or subconsciously, in the western world almost all of us have bought into it to a degree. I certainly did. Until I had a baby.

2. Parenthood and pursuing your dreams are not mutually exclusive. 

The truth couldn’t be further from what I thought. I thought that to avoid this second scenario, I could never pursue my dreams of having a successful career as a photojournalist and a recording artist as well as becoming a young mother at 25. I thought traveling would come to an end, I’d have to give up my passions and that I would essentially lose my identity as a person in the vast vacuum of exhaustion, weariness and mundane jobs known as motherhood.

But the truth is, life is what you make it to be after having a baby. We decided to try for a baby despite all this and since then, the reality of the joy of it has far outweighed all the other expectations our culture puts on us. Since having a baby, my life dreams and passions have been becoming reality in ways I never thought possible.

In the last year and a bit since finding out we were expecting, I’ve had the opportunity to record and launch a debut album of self-written songs (with a full band at 7 months pregnant no less! Madness I know. You should see a hugely pregnant woman playing the accordion up to her chin over her bump. It looked ridiculous. I loved it. You can find it here) that made it to number 14 on the iTunes singer/songwriter charts. There is now a second album and another EP in the pipeline, largely made up of songs written as a direct result of the journey we’ve been on this last year.


7 months pregnant at the debut album launch of All Shall Be Well, March 1st 2014

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Baby-wearing while doing a professional shoot for a website, September 2014

We’ve rebranded and reinvented our husband-and-wife wedding photography and photojournalism business, now called East West Photographers (new website to be launched very soon – watch this space!). And I’ve been inspired to start writing again for the first time in years (hence this blog).

We’ve been given opportunities to travel around the world seeing family and friends. Caleb has been to six countries in his first six months of life and has loved every minute of it. Our fears of not being able to afford having a baby so young were for nothing – almost everything we need has either been given to us or we’ve been able to find them secondhand, nearly brand new for a fraction of its original price. We’ve realised what advertising companies and marketing ploys tell you is essential and what you actually need are two very different things. Having a baby has ended up costing us far less than we thought it ever would. Every preconceived notion I had in my head of having a family from the world’s perspective has been blown to pieces and is nothing like what I had imagined (feared?) it to be.

I’m not saying life doesn’t change after having a baby. Trust me, it does. It is harder to do certain things and there are things that have to be given up for the sake of your family. There are days where it feels like too much and that you’re not enough. Days when it’s harder to choose joy than others. And it is hard work maintaining a healthy balance and being committed to your family while pursuing your dreams. But, it is possible. And the rewards are more than worth it.

3. Parenthood is all about perspective.

In our (very limited) journey of parenthood so far and becoming parents to a beautiful boy with Down’s Syndrome, I’ve been learning this: It’s all about perspective. And what you focus on defines your perspective. It’s a bit like a photograph taken with a large aperture and a shallow depth of field. In photos like these, one element of the image is in focus while everything else blurs into the background. Your eyes are drawn to the one subject that the camera is focused on – everything else is insignificant. Change which part of the image the camera is focused on, and the whole picture changes. In this way, two photos can be taken of the same exact subject but, depending on where the focus is, they can tell two entirely different stories.

Finding Perspective

This is what I’ve found parenthood (or anything in life, really) to be like. You can focus on the issues, on the negative, on the hard parts of it. Yet if you do, this will consume you until it’s all you see. All the beautiful parts of the image fade into insignificance because you’re viewing life through this lens of negativity, of what the world tells you to expect. The world may tell you to expect to be exhausted, overwhelmed and financially frustrated as a parent. And if you go into it expecting the worst, you most likely will experience it to be like this. Yet if we take the time to intentionally realign our focus on the elements that make the rest of the image beautiful and whole, everything changes. Suddenly the hard things, the negative things about it, don’t seem as significant. You start seeing life through a different lens that still acknowledges that, yes, life can be hard – we live in a broken world full of broken people and this will always cause hardships. Anything in life that is worth having is hard at times. But there is more. There is a beauty and a wonder to life, even in the hard times, that is often missed because of our culture’s cynical view of hardship.

There are always going to be reasons why not to have children yet. Let me debunk some myths from personal experience here: There is never a ‘right time’ where everything lines up perfectly in place to start a family – circumstancially, physically, financially and emotionally. You can never be fully ready before being thrown into the deep end of the pool of parenthood (and if you think you are – you’re usually not.). And parenthood alongside living out other passions and dreams is, in fact, possible.

What I’ve learned is, though we have already been given life and life to the full, it is up to us to take hold of the life we’ve been given and live that life to the full. It doesn’t just happen. It is often a gigantic leap of faith. It is often a risk. But it is possible. And it is one well worth taking.