Journaling Through the Valley . . . and finding JOY in the morning!

Location: MICHIGAN, United States

Thank you for stopping by. It's my hope you find glimpses of my Savior interwoven thru my writings. I am the wife to one husband for over 25 years, a blessed mama to a dozen children, yes each born from me ~ two of which see Jesus face to face & ten at home, all of us yearning to see Jesus someday. We have been home educating for over 18 years with . . . well, another 15 years to go (the youngest is 3, the oldest 23!) I have walked through rejection, to continually learning I am CALLED, LOVED and forever KEPT by God - never, ever to be rejected by Jesus! (Jude 1:1) I've walked through deep sorrow to find that joy does come again, though the night may be long; I've witnessed God orchestrating miracles with my children still beyond my comprehension, & I am seeing new love forming as we begin a new road of older children finding life mates. My life has and is a journey, from the deepest, almost rock bottom pit, to stumbling through my faith and looking towards the ultimate climax of everlasting life in heaven. Will you be joining me here and there? ~ Loni

Friday, December 31, 2004

Good-bye to 2004 . . .

The ending of 2004, and several good-byes this past year. Two friends funerals were attended. My mom died in the spring at age 76. There were no good-byes personally with her. But, yet, we are suppose to bury our parents. We never expected to bury our healthy, active, 16 year old son. But, God's ways are not our ways, and so, we say our good-byes, to this year and precious ones.
Jayson & Benjamin just spent the past 24 hours with some close friends - their first time away, and it was good. They had a lot of fun - went rock climbing! But, the hard part for them was coming home. Matthew would have been one to really share their excitement - he probably would have been slightly jealous they he had not gone. Benjamin broke down. The ache of missing his brother.
Norm & I had a good visit with some close friends yesterday. The man (John) lost his wife, Nancy, 2 years ago. This couple was real special to us, as I lived with them for a year before Norm & I were married. We have watched their children grow up, get married and now having children. John & his one daughter and her two children came over last night. It was sweet fellowship, special memories, and tears. They helped us a lot in sorting out what we will be going through "somewhat" in the next year, but encouraged us to go through this as we need to - not by what others tell us we should or should not do. We have had many wonderful offers from family and friends to help us remodel the bathroom and bedroom downstairs, which has all the memories - some good, and some not so good, of Matthew. But, we now understand for the most part, this is something we as a family need to do ourselves, in working through the grief. We do not want to remove the memories of Matthew, but need to build new ones with our family, and work through this deep ache together. We don't just want it thrown together to help cover it up.
So, we know it will be a slow process. The boys are still all sleeping upstairs in the living room, and that is okay! We are all staying close, talking a lot, and this way, the boys cannot escape to their own little territory and hide away their feelings.
Today we took the family out for lunch for the first time, minus Benjamin & Jayson who were with their friends. Jessica remembered how the last time we went out as a family was for pizza at the end of October for a birthday celebration. Many little things jog our memories. These are sweet, but bring the tears.
Thank you again for your many nice notes of encouragement. WE NEED THEM - even if we don't respond. You will never know how many time the right words, just knowing someone is praying, has come at the right time. You are not bothering us, you are encouraging us. Most of all we appreciate your prayers.
So, we will begin a new year. It will be different. It's of course not at all as we anticipated. But, because of God's grace, mercy and tenderness, we know we will make it, one day at a time. We don't know what 2005 holds for us, but we know Who holds it for us.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Better Day . . .

It was a laid back day. Both Jessica & Benjamin especially had some tough moments and still have so many questions. Just going into the library today, we met two people, and were immediately tearful as they had heard about Matthew.
I bought a new photo/memory album today. It will give me something to work with and through as we put his pictures together. I had gotten quite behind with his.
We all sat at the dining room table tonight for dinner - a first since Matthew's death. Melody was still in a youth chair, so she got Matthew's chair, which at the age of 5 she took as something pretty neat. We then still switched a couple seats around. The hardest moment, was starting. Norm prayed, and mentioned about giving us peace as we start this first meal at the table without Matthew. When we all opened our eyes, there were quite a few tears, but we made it.

We are still getting so many cards and letters in the regular mail & e-mails. It's been so helpful with the daily encouragements. THANK YOU


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Low Day

It seemed like a low day today. Maybe it was "trying" to get back to normal, which is not normal. I did not seem to accomplish much at all. Yesterday I was able to get through a lot of Matthew's things, and today, I could not touch anything. Norm felt the same way. It just all so final. And then, our girl's bird died today.
We went to some friend's home for the evening. It helped getting away. We came home to a clean house - the friends we went to, their oldest daughter came with a friend and freshened up our house. That was helpful.
If you are reading this, pray for sleep for Norm & I. Many nights we lay awake until 5 am, which was last night. Norm needs to get up at 6 for work. We are getting quite worn down - and also have bronchitis.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Beginning the journey of journaling the grief . . .

We have been receiving so many e-mails, and dear ones just wanting to know how we are doing, and since I find this an outlet anyway, I am beginning this blog. Never thought I'd start a blog, with journaling our way through the death of our son.
It's been just over two weeks since Matthew's death. In some ways it seems so vivid - like yesterday, but when I think of my tall lanky son bouncing through the room, calling out for the baby, "Wheeerrrr'es myyyy Bathannnneee", it seems so long ago since I heard his voice.
Last week we spent an evening going through his clothes and knick-knacks. He was one that liked clothes. Not necesarily name brands, but "cool" clothes (but still conservative). He loved fleece clothing in the winter, and and several Scripture t-shirts he wore in the summer. I kept about 10 of his favorite shirts. I am thinking in time of making a memory blanket. But the rest was put in a big bag and we left it at Good Will. I think a part of my heart went with that bag too, as we put it in the bin, and heard the big, "plunk". Another finalness. Another good-bye.
When we'd do something major, like the clothes, it seemed to wipe us out emotionally for days, so we'd not go downstairs to the bedroom for days. Another day we cleaned out his bed. He had lots of things on shelves around it. Our other children have been good about wanting certain things - thankfully no fighting over things either.
Today, I went through all his schoolbooks. This is years of schoolbooks. I am one to save everything. I had some of his first writing books, to this years unfinished books. In one book I found a big red heart colored, with a note of "I love you Jessica" printed on it. Our daughter, Jessica, went through two open heart surgeries. Matthew was one who spent many hours by her bedside, reading to her. He loved Jessica dearly. Both Jessica & I cried today when we found that note.
Tonight Norm is taking all the walls and ceiling down of the bathroom where Matthew was found. This too has been a draining, emotional task. I've gone down a couple of times, and we have held each other and cried. The room is going to be totally demolished, and started all over again - totally different, very well lit, and larger. Where the locked door was, will be a wall, with some type of large picture with a Scripture verse on it. The door (without a lock) will be moved to a different place.
Many ask about our children. Our three boys, which all shared a bedroom with Matthew, are still upstairs, "camping out" in the living room each night. Our oldest son is probably "ready" to go back downstairs, but he has been compassionate to his younger brothers (who found Matthew) and stays with them upstairs. There are tears from these two boys just about every day. Tears over finding Matthew, tears over the good memories and tears over what the future won't be. Tears we all share. Our son, Benjamin, who first found Matthew, asked the other day, how come Matthew was so smart in figuring out games and always won, and yet he could not figure this one out (his death).
Thankfully there are many good memories in the boy's room, but yet, there needs to be changes. There were double bunks. Now, an empty empty bed. So, we are going to change things around. We have a wallpaper border and new paint bought. We are helping the boys go through their things too to declutter, and hopefully within a week or so, we can freshen up the room good. They have such special memories from the nights of going to sleep. Benjamin (11) said he will miss Matthew's stories at night.
Our twins, 13, share their tears and memories too. They miss the tugs on their hair, and the games Matthew always played with them. Jessica shares this too. For the most part, the littlest girls are very matter-of-fact. Matthew is in heaven. There is nothing to worry about! But today, Katie (3 1/2) asked "When I die, will you burn my stuff too?" (We burned some of the schoolbooks). Oh, my heart . . . Melody (5) told us one day she does not want a new body - wants to keep her old body. We explained to her at the funeral that Matthew is in heaven with a new body - that we are just looking at his old body.
Our church family has been wonderful. Quite a few families showed up and filled our home on Christmas Eve - just to be with us, when they could have been with their own families. It was very precious to us. Christmas Day we spent with Norm's family. It was hard - one less grandson to walk through the door. There was quite an ache all day, but we got through it, with tears and laughter.
So, we continue this new journey through the night, knowing joy will be there in the morning - but it looks like a long night right now.