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

Monday, January 31, 2005

Autopsy Report

Today we got Matthew's autopsy report. Being it was an accidental death in the home, it was required by law. His death was ruled accidental affixiation. We know his body is just the "old shell" and God gave him a new, whole, unblemished one, but just reading what was done to his body - the one we knew and loved - was so hard. I am still shaking from it. Maybe we should not have read it.

Will write more later, but know people are reading this on a daily basis, and we'd appreciate your prayers.


Saturday, January 29, 2005

7 weeks . . .

Later in the afternoon, Norm and I agreed that it was the first Saturday that we did not "watch the clock" and remembering all that happened when Matthew died 7 weeks ago today. It was also our first extended time out alone, without the children, which was nice. We stay in close contact with the children, and none of them said anything about this Saturday bothering them. So, we've gotten up a little higher in this valley.

Norm picked up some parts for the car we are trying to fix that was Matthew's that has been at Stephen's automotive class for over a month now. We were thankful it did not cost too much, and are hoping & praying this will resolve the problems.

We went out for lunch too, and then went to Menards, and got a shower, bathroom cabinet and sink/counter for the boy's bathroom. This was a major thing to get done. We are thankful for God's provisions to be able to get this from the many gifts and then to find things on sale that helped save too!

We are still trying to make a decision regarding the boys' bedroom and ours. The boys now have their bedroom downstairs in our walkout basement. Their bedroom is quite large, with two large closets. It has enough room for two bunk beds (now one bunk bed and a single bed), a desk, their weight machine, several bookshelves, dressers, etc. The two boys that found Matthew and have all the visuals are really struggling with moving back downstairs. They will go down briefly to get clothes, put wood in the furnace, but it's very quick. Later we may hear how something bothered them being down there. We have considered exchanging bedrooms with the boys, so they have our bedroom, which is not nearly as large, but workable for three boys. Norm had been adding on a bathroom and laundry room, so they would eventually have their own bathroom, but until springtime, they'd have to continue using the main bathroom upstairs, which is what we are all using now. We have concerns, mainly with privacy in having the boys and the girls all in the same area, and then us downstairs. The advantage is Norm & I generally go to sleep several hours after all the kids are in bed, so we'd still be upstairs until we went down. The boys would not be "hiding away" as easily downstairs, and we'd probably be able to keep track more with them all up. Our oldest son is not thrilled about losing a lot of bedroom space, concerned about the little ones barging in their room, and privacy. We just discussed it with Jayson and Benjamin, and they liked the idea, though they know there will be adjustments with this too and don't want Stephen unhappy about it. It is also a lot of extra expense - changing our "dark green & rose floral" bedroom (mauve carpet too) to make it look more boyish, and making the boy's room more inviting for us - though this would not necessarily be too expensive. But it's some sacrifices either way, and a big decision to make, so we'd appreciate your prayers that we'd be guided in the right way, and that God would give us ALL a piece about it. It might be that all of a sudden the boy's have more of a change of heart and peace to be able to go back downstairs. Norm is mainly going to finish the bathroom downstairs, and then we will have to make a decision. Either way, we need two functional bathrooms for 11 of us!

Well, I better get to bed. It will be a busy day on Sunday, with church and we are having a couple over for dinner. Thanks again for the many e-mails and comments. :)


Friday, January 28, 2005

Leftover Mashed Potatoes . . .

It's strange what things trigger in our minds, and bring tears. We never use to have left over mashed potatoes. We do now. We usually do a full 5 pound bag of red potatoes for a dinner. We add in sour cream, chives and butter. They were one of Matthew's favorites. He always had seconds, thirds . . . there was never any left - now we have leftovers. We've had mashed potatoes several times since his death, but for some reason it hit several of us more yesterday.

Today Katie (2 years old - her birthday is the day before Matthew's in May), asked me why I have all Matthew's candy in my room. I told her I didn't have Matthew's candy - to show me. She took me in our room, and it's Matthew's little "treasure chest" we have in our room with his special things in it - but it's where he kept candy he'd hand out to the kids. So, I showed her that there was mainly his papers and special things in it - but a few suckers in there, just for memory sake that I am going to keep. She then asked me when Matthew is going to come back. It really took me off guard. I told her he went to heaven, and he is staying there. "Well, I want to go be with him - I miss him" . . . and she ran off. Ohhh . . .these hit the heart. (Katie is still very insecure if I need to leave for anywhere without her, and even noticed tonight at church that she was very careful to know where I always was and didn't want me to leave her. This is definitely something new with her).

It seems as though the younger two have had a delayed reaction to Matthew's death - probably realizing the finality of it all. Melody (5) cried tonight, just saying over and over how much she misses Matthew.

Both Norm & I sense from some that we should be so much further with our grieving and getting things back to "normal" but we just don't see that in the near future. We've been told how we "look good" and it's so good to see us smile or laugh or told that they are glad to see us "getting on with life" but so much of it seems like we are just going through the motions to do so. Our whole lives are not "just Matthew" but the hole he left in each of us - and all of us working together to let at least be able to find our new normal. I think it's all the pain we each share - and have of our own - that makes it hard. For me it can be filling out insurance forms, or answering someone how many children I have. For the children, it's memories of games and no night time stories from him. For Norm it's been walking in the garage to see his bright red moped he loved to ride and looking at the outside of the house to the various things he painted for us this past year (around windows and the children's playhouse). Different things strike each of us.

It hit Jayson the other day how he is now the "second oldest" and told me quite bluntly how he does not want to be referred to that way. He had been telling me how much he had looked up to Matthew and how disappointed he had been with him. We went through the many good memories, but also told Jayson that he still has a responsibility as being the "second oldest here" and that his brothers & sisters are going to look up to him more since Matthew is missing. He just kept shaking his head - he doesn't want to be referred to that way.

Several have asked how I and those that had trouble are sleeping. I think the children are doing a little better. They generally fall asleep listening to a story or music and it's been better. I don't hear complaints of not getting enough sleep. Our oldest son, Stephen (17) has gone back down to the boys' bedroom to sleep since the truck accident. He needed to get more sleep with the headaches and the younger ones were waking him up to early. He does not have the visuals as the others have, so it's been easier for him to go back down. At first we though the other two boys would follow, but it hasn't happened. Jayson & Benjamin are still upstairs sleeping on the couches. They want a light on too. Jayson has said noises during the night still abruptly awaken him. But, I think it is getting better. I am taking a prescription medication to help me sleep. I did not want to do this, but get only a few hours of interrupted sleep a night was not doing any good either. It's "helping" but it still takes me awhile to fall asleep. Thankfully, I feel like I am sleeping deeper. I still deal with "panic attacks", especially when Stephen leaves to drive to his automotive class, or him being late, or little things that I know I should not think on, but it's been so much in a short time.

A totally separate thing here, but we'd appreciate prayer regarding Norm's job. He was unemployed for 20 months, and then found the job he is currently at. He started the beginning of November. The 20 months he was off was very good, and in looking back, we accept it as a gift of time we had with our whole family together, making memories. The last month or so before he got this job, it was quite tight financially, and we knew the home businesses we were working on were not enough to keep him home, at this time. He got a job through a temporary service. One of the other temp guys also working at the same place with him, was told that he would be let go next week, but they have not said anything to Norm. Norm has been able to keep busy. He works in the tool & die field, which here in Michigan is either a feast or famine type job. He has not officially been hired by the company - still gets paid through the temporary service, so it keeps him hanging to whether he will be staying at the job or if it will be indeed temporary. The job site is only ten minutes from our home, which is wonderful. The other tool & die job he had was a 40 minute drive. It is also first shift which is SO NICE - to have him home for dinner and evening with the children. NONE of us want him going back to the old 2nd shift hours (4 pm t0 2 am was his last job). He is getting about half the pay than what he was before, but with the closeness of the job, it being steady work, we can make it - lots less gas and wear & tear on the car! If this is not the place for him, then God must have something better planned.

Thanks again for your continued prayers, and notes. It's so much appreciated. :) It's time for me to try to get into the earlier sleep cycle! ~~Loni

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

More meltdowns . . .

Continue praying for our children. We all have so much to go through, and so much triggers memories, and then the reality of Matthew's death - and the visuals we are all dealing with. Yesterday, Heather (13) fell apart because her CD player had broke several days ago. She was upset because she could not have Matthew's and we had already given it to another child. Getting to the bottom of the real reason for her being upset, was because she could not fall asleep well without it, and so she was thinking so much of Matthew. We were able to get her another portable CD player last night. Prayfully it will help towards healing.

Jessica also broke down greatly last night. She had been playing a game with the children, and lost. I had never seen her get so upset over losing! Our first thoughts, was she was pretty spoiled, and we need to nip this! But in talking to her at great length, she was remembering all the times as a family we had played games, and she just again, missed Matthew being a part of it. She was sobbing and so broken. She said too, sometimes when she played a game Matthew, he'd let her win. She was remembering the tender parts of him. (NOT that the children should all let her win the game!!). She asked too when "all this bad stuff was going to stop". It just seems like so much for our children to go through. Many adults don't go through all this - and it hurts us greatly to see our children so hurt by it all. Jessica was in a much better mood this morning, but we know each day we are all dealing with different things, and probably another child or two, will really break down each day, as we work through this. We won't be "over" this in a matter of months.

Someone asked us about our "needs" page and what maybe the children would need for healing, and so we have added to that on our page. The children love stories on CD or tapes - such as Adventures in Oddessy and Mark Lowry tapes, Vision Forum and Lamplighter books and Christian music. Being they do have a lot, it is best to e-mail us to make sure they do not have something. But we appreciate those that are so concerned about the children and what they need too for healing.

Yesterday we went to the post office to check our PO Box, which we had not done in almost a week. We had numerous cards and letters. Just a BIG thank you if you sent one. It means so much. You will never know how much a simple card or note, just knowing someone else is praying, means so much. Our children look at them too, and it's just been an encouragement to us all.

We naturally have the question "why" Matthew did something foolish to cause his death. It's probably something we will always ask. But, we know without a doubt Matthew deeply loved the Lord - he made a foolish mistake like we all do. He wanted to pattern his life after his Great Grandpa Berg, who was a wonderful man of God - a great prayer warrior, picketed abortion clinics til shortly before his death, and was the "candy man". Matthew was tall and lean like Grandpa Berg. The Wednesday before Matthew died, he handed out candy to the kids at church. He was starting early - little did we know it was the only time. So, when we think of these events, we hear from people what an impact his life had on them, we wonder why all this had to happen. Lately we have been getting e-mails from parents thanking us for sharing what happened to Matthew. Like us, they had no clue of this dangerous thing kids are doing. A note was also just left on our guestbook. So, if one child is prevented from doing this, it sure helps us too in our minds. We have close to 3,000 hits on Matthew's Memorial page, and if it leads one person to find out more about Who Matthew now stands in the presence of, and comes to know the Lord, "it will be worth it all, when we see Jesus..."

But for now, we do grieve emmensely. We thank you for your continued prayers fo rour family.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Pipes, cars & tears . . .

Just a quick note tonight, as it is after midnight. It's been a long day. We've had some real cold nights - below zero and last night one of our water pipes froze and burst. Thankfully we found out before we had too much water in the basement and Norm was able to fix it. And thankfully, it was more a hassle to fix, than a major expensive job to fix (except for a day off from work).

Today Stephen went back to his auto class - the first time since the accident. We were all quite disappointed that Matthew's car that he had taken in almost a month ago, still has problems, and may need a new "computer". So, we went from three cars, down to one, and are trying to make things work! For at least this week we have an extra vehicle that some friends lent us, but we are hoping and praying something works with Matthew's car soon - getting fixed and/or another vehicle.

I think with things somewhat "settling down" since the accident, Matthew's death has been bothering the children more again. Jayson (15) really broke down tonight. He is just hurting so much. He was telling us how he looked up to him so much and just cannot understand why Matthew did such a thing and is so disappointed in him. We related the story of David and Bathsheba to him - and despite David's sexual sins, later God still called him a "man after God's own heart". Jayson said it is just so hard to remember the good times when Matthew really did something so foolish. Being praying for ALL of us - because we all struggle in some ways with this. Jayson really struggles as I do with the nights and we agreed to really try praying more during the nights when we cannot sleep.

Thank you for your continued prayers. ~~Loni

Sunday, January 23, 2005

One week since boys' accident

Thank you for the many nice notes - but most of all your prayers. We spent a good part of yesterday (Saturday) at some friend's which really helped - just being away, and sweet fellowship. By the time we got to our friends, we got a call that Matthew's bed was already out of the house. I think the antipation of another finality was harder than it actually being done. Once home and seeing the empty space was not as hard as we thought, though, it's more adjustments.

Our oldest son, Stephen (who was in the accident last Sunday) is now back sleeping downstairs since the accident. He decided he needed more peace and quiet to be able to get better sleep and not be woken up by the little ones. Being he does not have the visuals the other ones have of Matthew's death, (he was at work when it all first happened), he is able to deal better with it, and I think in time the other two will be able to go down easier, but we are not pushing it.

Today we had another hard thing happen, especially for our 13 year old twin daughters. Yesterday our Siamese cat went into labor and the girls were so excited to see the kittens born. We allowed them to stay up to watch the kitten be born, but she seemed to labor very long, and the girls fell asleep around 3 a.m. in the morning. I got up around 8 a.m. and found the cat in our bathroom, still pregnant, very bloody, and weak. The girls heard me with her, and got up. We realized something was definitely wrong. To make a long story short, the mother cat died this afternoon. The girls were so heartbroken. Another death. First Matthew - then their Parakeet, and now the cat we have had for several years. They were pretty sad. It's hard to see our children hurting all over again, and having to deal with more. Daddy already said they could get another kitten, so that might help. And we know if God cares about the sparrows - and sees everyone that falls, He cares about all creatures!

We went to church today, the first time since our boys' accident last Sunday. The boys were able to see how far the truck went into the field from the accident. We took pictures of the truck too to church, and our church family rejoiced with us in how much our boys were spared. We are thankful for such a close church family that has been so encouraging to us.

A busy week ahead . . . Stephen is still dealing with some headaches, and still is coughing up some blood from the pneumonia. He may try to go back to his automotive class this week, but needs to be able to get enough sleep. Last week after the accident, he was continually very tired and would take several naps throughout the day. We can tell his energy is picking up some. Monday he has to see the dentist for some back chipped teeth and later in the week he has an orthodonist appointment for TMJ - where is jaw is clicking a lot just opening and shutting his mouth. Stephen has to also get another x-ray near the end of the week to see how his lungs are doing The bruizing is showing more on his lower jaw. We think there still may be some glass stuck in his mouth. Jayson still has an acky back and will get the staples and stiches out later this week. He is one that really wants to keep going and play basketball - and so when he stops to complain and not want to do certain things, we know he must be hurting. So be praying that with all the running with appointments, that all will go well. We have noticed with our younger ones a little more insecurities when I leave. So many stressful things have happened in a short amount of time, and I think though they do not understand it, they don't like it when I leave and just cling to me - which then tears at my heart. I don't do well with the stress of running (rather be home) and then when the little ones are so upset, it can make me get panicy.

So, besides the appointments, I hope that I can start working on the boys' room more and start some painting and refreshing it some for them. We mainly cleaned a lot out, in the past weeks, and sorted through Matthew's things. Sometimes with the busyness, it still seems so impossible that Matthew is gone. But, again, today, looking down the pew at church, there's that empty space. I think this is where it hits me the most, and singing the hymns.

Thank you again for the nice notes, comments and prayers. Please continue as we adjust, grieve, and work through so many things.


Saturday, January 22, 2005

A day of many emotions

I thought I'd write this morning so if people read this throughout the day, they will pray for us. Today is our Angela Hope's birth/death date. She was stillborn 7 years ago today. We usually go to the cemetery and let balloons go and sing happy birthday. But we got quite a bit of snow last night and a lot of drifting, and then our snowblower broke down, so as I am writing this, Norm is trying to fix it. Norm was not sure about going to the cemetery today anyway because the younger ones (Jessica on down) did not go to the burial with Matthew, and just don't know if they are up to this yet. Being too that the cemetery is rural, I doubt the roads are even plowed. So, we probably won't do that today. But it is a day once again of reflections - Angela is 7 years old in heaven, and Matthew now has been gone 6 weeks today. It's hard to believe.

Today too, we are going to try to go to some friend's house and while we are gone other friends and our Pastor & his family are going to come over and get Matthew's bed out. I mentioned before how this has just been too hard for us to do, yet even knowing it's going to be done, is quite emotional. So, if you read this through the day, pray for us - and for our friends who are so gracious to help in this big task for us.

Many have also asked how Norm is doing. He's a strong man, but he often speaks of the different things he wishes he would have done. Don't we all do that when we go through something difficult such as we are with losing Matthew. He never went hunting with him this fall. He wished he had talked to him more about personal things - we have talked to our children over the years about purity and waiting for marriage, and though we never knew what Matthew dealt, that there was even such a thing, we both wonder what we could have done differently. The hardest part that brings the memories and emotions to Norm is music. Matthew loved Christian music, and Norm has been listening to a lot of his CD's. When a song comes on the radio in the car, he just recently told me that this is when he often will break down in the car. The other continual memory for him is when he comes home from work each day. The day Matthew died, he came home from work to the children running down the driveway frantically screaming that Matthew was dead. This is his vision that is so hard to escape from. So, whenever he comes home from work, he says coming up the driveway is still so hard.

Well, I better finish up here, so the children are all ready to go when Norm is finished with plowing the driveway (he did get the snowblower fixed). Thank you for caring & praying.


PS - One of my girls told me Katie (3) got all excited. She looked outside and thought Matthew was snowplowing the driveway. Norm is wearing one of Matthew's coats that is heavier. :'(

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Family Picture Summer 2004

We did not realize this until a few weeks ago, that we had another family picture. A couple in our church took this picture to make a church directory. They gave us copies. So we do have one with all of us in it, we can share with you.

Background: Stephen (17); Matthew (16)
Norm (dad); Jayson (15); Heather (13)
(Middle Sitting) Benjamin (11); Loni (mom) Heidi (13)
Jessica (8); Bethany (14 mo) Melody (5); Katie (3)

"Death Games" similar to Matthew's death

I am not going to write much on this, but as more people see this blog, if one thing comes out of Matthew's death, we want parents aware of what our children are exposed to. We believe Matthew learned of it from TV. In talking to parents over these past 5+ weeks, we have heard numerous ones say, they saw it talked about on Oprah, and a story-line on it on CSI. It's real. And many teenagers think they will play the game right, and not die. Matthew played the game - he died. It hurts so bad to know he tried this and we just don't want another family to go through the same pain we have and will continue to go through.

Here is a link I have on our webpage. This link is very explicit in spelling out what this game is.
"The Autoerotic Asphyxiation Syndrome in Adolescent and Young Adult Males"

Also here are two newspaper articles of recent deaths in Florida. These are not nearly as explicit, but do talk about what these young boys did.

Kids are playing with death. It's hard to know how much detail to tell our kids without giving them ideas. But for our children, we have told them, if there is any game someone tells you to play with holding your breath, puting something around your neck, continously doing the Heimlich Maneuver until one passes out and them comes to for a "high", etc - DON'T mess around with and tell us. Not only have we had to tell our children in the past about don't drink or mess with drugs, becareful of strangers, don't let others touch you in private places, now here is a new one I never imagined of. This is just the beginning - I don't want to know more, and I know there is a lot more out there kids are messing around with. We thought our children would be blinded from this, being homeschooled, in a conservative church setting, working for Christians, and yet, Matthew learned about the game, and lost. It's scary. And it is more heartbreaking than you will ever know, unless you go through it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Ramblings . . .

Our boys are doing "okay". We had both Stephen and Jayson back in ER yesterday, mainly because Stephen has an extreme headache and just does not feel like eating. Jayson's back is aching quite a bit too. So our family doctor told us to go to ER since it's still within 72 hours of the accident. When the accident first happened we went to a different hospital in a bigger city. For this check-up we went to our local hospital, where Matthew was also taken and where they worked on him for an hour, and then were told he was definitely gone. I thought when I first talked to the doctor's office that he was just ordering tests and we would not have to go through the ER, but to make a long story short, we did have to go through the ER. To say the least, I fell apart. It was really hard going through those doors. Thankfully, the first nurse to see us, was one of them that was with us when we said our good-byes to Matthew in the hospital, and she recognized me and gave me a big hug and was very compassionate. I finally was able to settle down, and we did not have to go near the room Matthew had been in. We spent 5 hours in ER, and they especially put Stephen through a lot of tests - everything from a head CAT scan, to many x-rays, and blood tests. Stephen does not have any bleeds in his head but because of the magnitude of his headaches probably does have some concussions. We were concerned about his jaw either being broken or fractured, but that is "okay" but he might have some major TMJ to deal with. His knees are pretty bruised and sore, especially if he twists a certain way. He also has slight pneumonia, because when he coughs it hurts his head so much, so he is holding it all in. So, he is on an antibiotic plus some stronger pain killers. Jayson's back x-rays turned out fine. He walks around stiff, but is getting back to more of his normal self.

Stephen's truck was towed back to our house yesterday. What a miracle that our boys made it through it. The dashboard is almost down to the seat. There is blood all over inside. There is another interesting story with the accident. When Stephen was in the ambulance he heard the other man spelling out his last name. Stephen recognized it, and found out that he is taking the automotive class with his son, and had even invited his son to our church. While we were in ER the first time, his son came up to visit Stephen and we then went to visit the father who was in the accident. He was very kind and was the one who told us he tried to avoid hitting the door. We apologized for the accident and he just kept saying "these things happen" and was thankful everyone was ok. His son has called several times to talk to Stephen. We just don't know God's plan here, but for some reason he put them all together for this. We also had the opportunity to invite them all to our church, which is just down the street from them.

So, we continue walking this road - things we never imagined we would be going through. Many ask how "I" the mom is doing. I am quite frazzled, and have been pretty emotional and just keyed up from all of this. It's been a lot in a short time, and I definitely feel like I am on overload. The last several nights I have slept better (thank you for praying) but I have a hard time getting out of bed - just knowing we have to face another day, without Matthew, and seeing two sons so hurt and the rest of the children still grieving and hurting, though the tears have been a little less. The boys are still all sleeping upstairs. We have not gotten much done downstairs, and the process has been slow. It's just plain wearing. I did talk to a friend today, to get the word out that we do need to have someone outside the family get Matthew's bed/mattress out of their bedroom. This is just something so personal. With a large family, it is not like the children have their own bedroom or their own closet or even their own dresser. Their beds were like their little sanctuary, and they kept their treasures there, and put things on the walls they wanted. Each have a small Rubbermaid type box at the ends of their bed that they keep things in that everyone else is to stay out of. It is off limits for the children to go into each others beds. I remember so much talking to Matthew in his bed, from the young boy who I already told you about grieved over the loss of a miscarried baby, and when we lost our stillborn daughter Angela, he also gripped my heart one night. It had been a rough morning before I left for a doctor's appointment. We had sick kids and I was not in a good mood, and was sharp with the children. It was at the doctor's appointment that I started to hemorrhage, and I ended up having Angela by emergency c-section, and she was stillborn. Weeks later, as we said good-night to Matthew up in his bed, he broke down, and said "Mom I am so glad you did not die that day we lost Angela, because you were real mad when you left, and if you died, that is what we would have remembered." Oh, my! Talk about conviction! It has stayed in my mind so much, that when we do have disagreements, to make sure when we leave each other, that things are made right, and we don't go to bed angry. We just never know. Our whole family is SO thankful that with Matthew, there had been no bitter words said the day before, no agruements, no "I wish I would not have said . . .". We are just so thankful.

But as I have rambled on here, Matthew's bed is still in the bedroom, and is just such a sweet part of him, and often I will still go and lay down my head on his upper bunk bed, and cry, and wish I could pull back the covers and wake up the sleepy kid. I miss him so. Yet, I do see our lives moving forward, and know with God's grace, we will make it. The road is going to be rough, but I think we at least know that "joy in the morning" is just over the horizon. Thanks for your continued prayers.


Monday, January 17, 2005

The comments . . .

Just an added note here! You are welcome to read the comments - and you are welcome to write a comment as well. One in particular that has left several comments now is "Sue". Her little Luke who drowned in a pool around 18 months. They also just had another baby. I've been reading their blog (journal) since the summer, and could relate to a lot of their adjustments through the long hospital stay, yet makes me cringe because we have a pool too. I've written a few notes to Sue and now see she has left some notes to me, along with other people I've only met through the internet. I find this internet still amazing - making friends and being able to encourage one another through the miles. On Matthew's memorial guestbook, we have signatures from people in France and Austrailia, and then others we don't know that are practically neighbors.
We just want you to know we read each comment. Sorry we do not respond to each one. But the comments are also e-mailed to us when they are written. So, just thank you for encouraging us this way. It means a lot.
Our children read many of them too. THANK YOU. ~~Loni

More adjustments . . . .

Just when we think things might settle down, we have new adjustments and things to deal with. Stephen & Jayson are doing ok - but very, very sore. Stephen's jaw hurts quite a bit, and discovered some back chipped teeth. His knees are still sore but seem a little better today, though he and Jayson are taking a lot of ibruprofen. Stephen has had a nasty head and neckache. Jayson's shoulders and back hurt and he gets suddent shoots of pain. The hardest part is just seeing them go through MORE pain - both physical and emotional. Last night when we were in ER and Stephen was kind of sleepy and closing his eyes, yet he was talking to me, and he said that he really feels that since Matthew's death he's been closer to God, and has more of a desire to read the Bible on a consistant basis, he feels too that satan is trying harder to get him. Losing the truck is a big disappointment for Stephen because he saved for 2 years to get this, and now it's gone. We keep telling him it's just a "material thing" and you are ALIVE and ok, and we can eventually get another truck, but it's still a low for him. He just shook his head, and says - first my brother, then this bad accident, lose my truck - what's next. I totally understand. I've asked similar questions. And it seems like so much to happen in 5 weeks.

We just never know with our children. They are on loan to us, but I for one now wants to hold on to them a lot harder. I tease them that I am going to wrap the all in bubble wrap and never let them leave the house. But, Stephen did go to a Bible Study tonight. It was hard to let him go, but to see his desire to want to learn and grow, I cannot stop that. (But I am watching the clock too - he should be back by now - the nervous mom in me).

We have had questions about how this is coming out expense wise with the accident. Our car insurance will pay for all the medical bills except for a $300 deductible. The truck had to be towed, and kept overnight and it suppose to be towed back to our house tomorrow, and that will be $400. Stephen is taking probably this week off from work - not sure if he will attempt to go to his automotive class or not as there is a lot of moving around and going under cars, etc. We have some money set asside from that which was given to us to help us with remodeling the bathroom/bedroom, and that is how we will pay for some of these extra expenses right now. We don't want to go into debt. We know it will work out. As mentioned in a previous post here, we have a page with needs that is especially for the remodelling we need to do since Matthew's accident/death.

I started writing this in the afternoon, and after numerous interruptions, a wonderful dinner delivered by our pastor's family and a few other visitors, I am back to finish this off. We have had a lot of phone calls and e-mails today. Thank you for praying. Maybe with all that happened it has helped us to refocus a bit on what we do have - not that we are forgetting Matthew, or hurting less, but helping us to focus a lot more on what we really need to do for our children and the training they can get NOW. We don't know what the next hour or day will hold. We thank our Heavenly Father that Stephen and Jayson's loan to us has continued, and we have just been reminded a little more of the awesome responsibility we still have for 9 living, healthy children in this home. We are truly blessed.

Please continue to pray, as we heal in many different ways. We "may" attempt school tomorrow (it was a sick day for all of us today) but pray that we can start to get our minds into more of a routine, and towards things that have to be done. Thank you friends.


Sunday, January 16, 2005

Another Accident - Boys are ok

We had quite another scare this afternoon, but praise God, our boys, though very sore, are ok. After dinner today, Stephen (17) and Jayson (15) went over to a friend's house to play games. They were driving in an area they never had driven before, and it sounds like Stephen came to the main intersection, missed a stop sign and when he noticed it, last minute, slid through it. Another truck coming from the side knew it was going to happen, swerved and hit closer to the front of his truck. Stephen and Jayson went across a field through a lot of brush.

Jayson told us a man who saw the accident was a doctor and gave him a phone to call. Thank you Lord for him . . . we will never know who You provided to help our children - angels unaware possibly?

When we got the call from Jayson, I had been taking a Sunday afternoon nap and woke up very quickly when one of the children ran in our room, telling us Jayson was on the phone and had been in an accident. Jayson kept telling me to come quick and that Stephen was going in and out of unconsciousness. He was so distraught. And so were our children we had to leave quickly. Benjamin (11) the one who had just found Matthew dead just 7 weeks ago, was crumpled on the floor, saying "NOT AGAIN, NOT AGAIN". I needed to be a mom in two places, but couldn't. On the way to the accident scene, I called several friends to be with our children, again, at home. We will be forever grateful to them.

To say the least, Norm & I flew out of here. The accident was about 15 minutes from our house. As we approached the scene there were numerous ambulances, police cars and a fire truck. I remember Norm saying "Ohhh, pray, pray." It looked so bad with all the medical attention. We could not get down by the truck, but we learned quickly that Jayson was already in an ambulance, and though there was a lot of blood, he appeared ok. He was in some pain. They were in the process of cutting Stephen out of his truck. I was shivering and calling out to him, and could hear him telling the EMT people, to tell his mom that he was okay. A woman EMT driver wrapped me up in a blanket, and invited me to sit in the front seat by her. She asked if she could pray with me. I shared about what we had gone through 7 weeks ago, and I saw the tears sparkle in her eyes with mine. She assured me our boys would be okay. (As a side note . . . as I look back at this some time later, I know God was using this as a healing time. The EMT's that worked on our son that died in our home did not have a good bedside manner, to say it nicely. They were rude and uncaring. God used this to show us it was not the typical, and for this alone I can thank Him for the help with healing emotions and to work on forgiving)

To make this long story a little shorter, the boys were taken by ambulance to Butterworth Hospital. All the tests came through fine - no broken bones. Stephen got a couple of stitches on his face. His knees hurt quite a bit - probably from the impact of hitting the dashbord. Jayson got a cut on the top of his head where he got two staples, another cut on his forehead, and then a big gash on his leg which he got stitches in. This all happened around 5:00 pm and we left the hospital around 10 pm.

The boys are very sore, especially Stephen. He is using crutches because of one knee. He is also very bummed about his truck. He saved for 2 years to get this, and it is totalled. We keep reminding him that he is ALIVE, and overall ok. But he does need transportation to his automotive class. It's a material thing, and we remain so thankful for healthy, living children.

We were surrounded again by family and friends. It happened just a few miles from our church, just before the service. Our pastor and other church members were at the accident when we got there . . . left briefly to explain at the service, and then the pastor left again to be with us, while others at the church prayed, and prayed, and prayed. They have all been so good to carry us through these rough roads, again. So, we ask for prayer for healing for our sons. They were pretty shook up. Us as the parents were pretty shook up too. Our adrenalin has been activated again!

So we appreciate prayers for all of us, to get through another healing time. If you read this yet tonight, please pray for sleep for all of us. Thank you.

All in God's Grip
Norm & Loni
Stephen & Jayson (& the rest)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

5 weeks ...

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee;
and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:
when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned;
neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
Isaiah 43:2

We got through another Saturday and we all agreed it was our "best" Saturday since Matthew's accident. Before bedtime, Jayson (15) even told me he thinks now we will be "ok". That was a tremendous step for him, because he is dealing so much with what happened and being apart of trying to save Matthew. I gave him a big hug and told him that God has something big in store for him to allow him to go through all this at such a young age, and if he does not become angry or bitter, God can really use him - maybe to help others who go through such trials. He told me that he had been thinking of that, and maybe God will even have him go into the ministry. That surprised me to hear him say that so seriously. He did end it though, that he has a hard time studying, so he is not sure what capacity of ministry. But he is thinking, and allowing God to work in Him. This is a praise!

In going through all this, my deepest pain besides losing Matthew has been seeing the pain in my children. Oh, they are so tender at the ages they are, and I just pray and pray that this will not harm them but that they will grow and become stronger because of it. A few days ago Benjamin (11) asked how "good" will come out of this. (Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. ). For a little guy, that was such a big question, but again, we can see how God is stirring their hearts. We talked about how if just one person comes to know the Lord because of Matthew's death, that is worth it for eternity. We also talked about people reading our webpage, and it might show parents to talk to their children and prevent another tragic death like Matthew's. Yes, good can come out of this, though we might not see or understand it for quite some time.

After this discussion we got a very nice card and letter from a couple from our church who have young children, and told us that their 4 year old daughter asked a lot of questions after being at Matthew's funeral visitation and prayed and asked Jesus to be in her life. The angels rejoiced! I hope Matthew knows too!

Yesterday I had two friends come to visit from out of state. One was my Sunday School teacher from my teen years who came from Milwaukee. What a delight that was, and encouragement. Then another friend who moved to Tennessee almost a year ago, came home to meet her first grandchild, and came to visit me. We have been good friends for many years, and so we were able to talk more about Matthew and I shared our scrapbook of Matthew with her. I am so thankful for caring, reaching out friends.

Norm worked on the bathroom more today. It's such a big project as wires have to be moved, heat ducts & water lines. He has it more planned out now where things are going to go. He is very patient with this kind of thing. The boys are still all sleeping upstairs. In someways this has been very good, as we all go to bed at the same time, instead of the boys going downstairs and goofing around for an hour plus and then going to sleep. We have just had a lot more family time together til "lights out" and sharing time. More good.

We got all the kids out today as a family which was good for them and I think they enjoyed getting out. We went to one of our favorite stores - GW Boutique (Good Will) :) Every so often though one of the kids would pick up something and say "Matthew would have loved this!" As I see we are moving forward, he is not far from our hearts and thoughts.

So, we got through another day - a good day, which we are thankful for. We know there will certainly be the ups and downs. Monday we are going to try to get back into the full swing of school. We have only done a little bit since Matthew's death, but we need to get more of a schedule going. Monday's were always the days I worked specifically on Stephen and Matthew's work - caught up with their corrections, gave new assignments and wrote things down in my planning book. This will be different. I still have our chore schedule to change - still has Matthew's name on it. It's just been hard to make some of these "official changes" in taking his name out of things, but we will get there.

Thank you for your continued prayers, e-mails and comments here. I do read them all, and it means so much to know so many are praying. You continue to uplift us - THANK YOU.


Friday, January 14, 2005

"Dude . . ." & memories

We are still slowly working on the bathroom downstairs. Last night I went through more of Matthew’s things in his bedroom. He was a sentimental person who kept everything, from the little weights that went on the bottom of the balloons we let go on Angela’s birthday, to all the ribbons from Awana and summer Bible Blast (vacation Bible school). He had pictures too he kept, many of his little sisters, and little notes he had written, including one to God for Angela. I see so much more his caring heart as I go through these things.

He also had this picture, one of his bed. As of this date, we have not taken his bed down yet. Oh, that will be a heart wrenching thing. Another finality. In this picture it shows his shelf which he put up himself. He loved caps, and wanted to display those. His collection of the State Quarters is on the one board. He picked out that print for his pillowcase which I made him. To only be able to go to that bed and pull the covers back and wake him up – just one more time.

He taught Bethany (now 19 months) to call him "Dude". Once when we visited him at the store he worked at, and she all of a sudden caught sight of him, she ran up to him saying "Dude!" I could see the delight on Matthew’s face. I was just told that a week or so before Matthew died, one of the girls took Bethany down to wake up Matthew. They set her up on his bed, she pulled back the covers and quietly said, "Dude? Dude?". He woke up, with a big smile and said "DUDE!" back. Every once and while now, Bethany will put her hands out and say "Dude?" - like where did he go. He is in heaven and we will see him in a moment, compared to eternity.

Please continue praying for our nights. Even with taking something to help me sleep, it takes me hours to fall asleep, and several of the children are having a hard time sleeping as well. Last night I started screaming Matthew's name while I was dreaming. Most of the kids came running into the bedroom. I guess it shook up everyone. Norm did not even want to go to work. So much of this yet does not seem real, that he is really gone - and we will wake up and find things back to "normal".


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Cheesecake memories . . .

When I was pregnant with Melody (now 5) I craved cheesecake. Matthew made me MANY from scratch (not the box mixes) and did a wonderful job. It was also one of his favorite desserts, so that probably was one reason he made it.

This past Thanksgiving we had our own Thanksgiving - not going anywhere - just our own immediate family. We went all out with the good China and stemware, and silverware. Even told the boys to wear nice shirts and the girls dresses. They could not figure it out, when no one was coming. But for "some reason" this year we were prompted by God - maybe to make memories. I asked Matthew to make cheesecake, but he was working a lot of hours with the holidays keeping him so busy, so I did not pester him with it. I surprised him - told the kids not to tell him, and we had cheesecake for dessert that Thanksgiving. He was thrilled. I made a hit with him. Out of all the desserts that could have been made (and it was NOT pumpkin pie!) we made cherry cheesecake. Little did we know . . . Thank you Lord.

And no wonder today, when I was grocery shopping, and saw cheesecake, the tears came quickly. If you go by the cheesecake in your grocery isle - maybe God will bring us to mind. Keep praying for us.


Eulogy for another son (updated)

This website was just shared with us. It speaks so well of many of our feelings and want to share it with you.

Eulogy for Alex by William Sloane Coffin

Since posting this we have gotten a few e-mails concerning this eulogy, specifically, with "But like God herself, Scripture is not around for anyone's protection, just for everyone's unending support. " I am not sure if that was a typo with "herself" or what, but no, we do not believe that way.

We mainly shared this as it shows the pain of a father, and his dealing with the death of a son. Sometimes in deep grieving we might not say what we mean, or our pain reaches to such a depth, we do wonder where God is in this whole picture. We know He is with us without a doubt, but yes, we have whys.
Here are a couple of quotes from the above mentioned eulogy that touched us, and you may not have read it as we would:
"...who enjoyed beating his old man at every game and in every race, beat his father to the grave."
We have told you how Matthew loved to play games - and he usually won. He was very competitive. He was one for details of figuring things out. The last game, he lost on earth. We lost a son on earth because of the last game. But then, I guess we could see it too, as he won finished the course, and won, finished before us to heaven. It's just all so bitter right now.

For some reason, nothing so infuriates me as the incapacity of seemingly intelligent people to get it through their heads that God doesn't go around this world with his fingers on triggers, his fists around knives, his hands on steering wheels. God is dead set against all unnatural deaths. And Christ spent an inordinate amount of time delivering people from paralysis, insanity, leprosy, and muteness. Which is not to say that there are no nature-caused deaths . . . But violent deaths, such as the one Alex died — to understand those is a piece of cake. As his younger brother put it simply, standing at the head of the casket at the Boston funeral, "You blew it, buddy. You blew it." The one thing that should never be said when someone dies is "It is the will of God." Never do we know enough to say that. My own consolation lies in knowing that it was not the will of God that Alex die; that when the waves closed over the sinking car, God's heart was the first of all our hearts to break.

Yes, Matthew blew it. His brothers have asked over and over why he did such an idiotic thing. His youngest brother has asked why he could figure out the answers to all games and did well with school, and this he didn't figure out. He blew it. But don't we all as Believers? Don't we all have a sin nature that sneeks in and we allow it to? This is what happened with Matthew. Do we love him less? No! Does God love him less? Absolutely not! Are we hurt even so? OHHHH enormously.

When parents die, as my mother did last month, (Loni's mom also died in the spring of 2004) they take with them a large portion of the past. But when children die, they take away the future as well. That is what makes the valley of the shadow of death seem so incredibly dark and unending. In a prideful way it would be easier to walk the valley alone, nobly, head high, instead of — as we must — marching as the latest recruit in the world's army of the bereaved.

Dreams broken . . . no graduation party, no wedding, no grandchildren from Matthew, no more tall hugs and him counting my gray hairs that are appearing, no more visiting him in the store he worked, no more Matthew walking through the back door after work asking "what's to eat Mumsie", no more him fullfilling the "candyman" dream at church (he wanted to be like his greatgrandpa and pass out candy to the kids at church - the Wednesday before his Saturday death, he handed out a lot of candy at church.) Lots of dreams broken, lots of tears instead.

Our hope . . .

And of course I know, even when pain is deep, that God is good. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Yes, but at least, "My God, my God"; and the psalm only begins that way, it doesn't end that way. As the grief that once seemed unbearable begins to turn now to bearable sorrow, the truths in the "right" biblical passages are beginning, once again, to take hold: "Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall strengthen thee"; "Weeping may endure for the night but joy cometh in the morning"; "Lord, by thy favor thou hast made my mountain to stand strong"; "For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling"; "In this world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world"; "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

Quotes in blue color are from the Eulogy of Alex by his father William Sloane Coffin and can be read in full here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The gray cloud . . .

We are still going along, getting by, and going through this fog. The hardest part for all of us is dealing with Matthew's death, is the actual way he died. This has been the gray cloud over it all. It seems like a car accident would have been easier to deal with. We are finding out more and more how affixiations are something kids are playing around with in many different manners. I wish it was something I never knew about, but I feel like I know too much. We struggle with why Matthew choose to do such a dangerous thing. Even a couple of his close friends just shake their heads and just cannot believe Matthew would do something so stupid. They don't want to talk about it. I know we all do dumb things we regret, but this one is mind boggling. It's hard to get out of our minds. If he only could have understood the danger, and how this affects our whole family. Yes, I love my son dearly, and I am sure by his webpage, you know he was very much one we cherished (and still do), but I wish I could have him for 1 minute, shake the boy and tell him how much this has hurt us and his siblings he loved dearly, and how crushed we are, and then hug him with all my might and tell him I love him and forgive him and can't wait to see him in heaven. Some of these are so mixed up emotions.

So, yes, this continues to be a very painful road of many emotions. I wonder when things will ever seem "normal" or when we can go a day without the painful ache and tears. Certain things will hit me and I find myself shaking so much I can barely stand up. I know this took a great toll on all of us, and pray for health for us too. We all have been struggling with colds since Thanksgiving and I think with all the stresses we just are not able to get our immune systems built up. Everything seems to be a major chore - from making meals (I just through stuff together - it's hard to make a full course meal) - the crockpot is making most of our meals right now! I like to make the fun fur scarfs and have been doing a lot of that. I also make mother's bracelets, mainly for moms who have lost a baby (but make mother's bracelets and other occassion bracelets as well), and continue to make bracelets, which helps to keep me busy.

So please continue to pray as we sort things out, continue rebuilding the bathroom, and making changes downstairs, dealing individually with the children and their emotions (sometimes anger, sometimes great hurt), sleep especially for Norm and I, and just trying to get life a little settled to something "new" and "normal". We know it will be a long road to get there and the wounds will stay open for awhile. So don't forget to pray.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Past 4 weeks

For now, I don't think Saturdays will ever be the same. I always looked forward to them as our famiy days, days to get projects done, and when Norm would be home from work. Now, I watch the clock, remembering where we were four weeks ago. We got through the 4th Saturday.

The children (& us) are still having our ups and downs. We are eating as a "family" at the table now, but it is hard. There's usually tears after the prayer time. Right now it just seems a lot of life is mechanical. We do the things we have to. There's just that terrible ache and pain we have to work through, and seeing our children ache makes it that much worse.

I got a beautiful angel today I want to share with you. I hope the picture comes out well. A close friend of mine died almost two years ago. I still miss her so much. One of her other friends put this angel by her gravesite and I asked her where she got it from. Today I was blessed with it as a gift. It's on our piano for now, and will be put in between Angela & Matthew's gravesite in the spring.

Keep praying for our family. We thank you for your continued prayers, cards and e-mails. Don't stop!


Friday, January 07, 2005


Just thought we would share a few pictures as we are putting our scrapbook together. We did also put some more up on Matthew's Memorial Page.

This is just from this past summer. Matthew adored Bethany.

Here Stephen was probably 8 and Matthew about 7. I think we were on a trip. Even back then the boys did not like getting their picture taken, and I think Matthew is making sure Stephen is - only to get a cute picture of them both!

Last night after our pastor was here, it seemed like all our spirts were lifted and had some good conversation. Maybe we were not all dwelling on Matthew's death so much. Norm & I talked about this before we went to bed, noticing that there had not been any tears. About an hour after we were in bed our Heather (13) came knocking on our door, and just so broken up. She cuddled in bed with us for awhile as she sobbed. The pain continues.

We hope to have a family night with friends, but when we say "family" it just does not seem complete. Pray for us that we can have a peaceful time.


Thursday, January 06, 2005

Keep praying . . .

We have had some real low, rough days. I don't know if we are coming out of the shock more, or if the reality of Matthew really being gone is hitting more. It's been some real long, deep hurting days. I started working on Matthew's scrapbook yesterday. I had already somewhat started it years ago, but had gotten way behind. My twin girls started digging out pictures, and we had quite a few out from a bulletin board we put up at the funeral. So, I started arranging it. Some of it was good, especially all the little baby and toddler pictures. But as we got to the older pictures, especially from the last year or so, it was so hard. At times I found my hands trembling so much I could barely cut pictures. It was hard making a page of his death notices. I find myself still just not adjusting to this that he is really gone.

As we were looking through Matthew's school papers, we found several more of his writings, including the one he wrote for Thanksgiving of the things he was thankful for. We have put this Thanksgiving Paper on our webpage. Maybe it will give you another glimpse of who he was.
We are still, (and know we will for a long time) dealing with a lot of the emotions of the children. When one of them wants to talk about the hard time they are having, we try to do it in private, as it seems to bring them all down. We know at times we do all need to talk together, but right now there is continual discussions and tears, and reminders. This is real hard at times, as we don't have the answers. Benjamin & Jayson, the two that found him and are so affected by this, will ask us over and over WHY Matthew did this. Benjamin said today, "Matthew was so smart, he could figure out any game and win - why couldn't he figure out how dangerous this was. Why??" It's not an answer we can give.

I personally have had two of the lowest days. It's hard to go to bed, knowing I will have a hard time sleeping - it's hard getting up in the morning, knowing I have to face another day of reality. Even before I get out of bed many mornings, one of the children will come in to talk, cry, or just need the closeness of mom. We have our faith, and I don't minimize that at all. I know God is holding us, and carrying us through, but it still seems like a heavy load as we not only deal with our own deep hurt, but all dealing with each of the children's pain. It seems to intensify. This is hard with God - I cannot imagine going through this without God.

As I was talking to our Pastor on the phone today, another call came in, which I switched to. It was a Christian college calling to talk to Matthew, because he had inquired on an aviation course. Matthew for years talked of flying. It took my breath away again - and had to tell the gal that Matthew died.

I was talking to the Pastor & his wife today, sharing about our low days, and they came and spent a couple of hours with us tonight, having devotions with us and just sharing, and praying with us. I think it picked us all up some.

One verse Pastor brought up, was one Norm has often reminded me of through the years, and is so appropriate for us now as we go through the "what ifs" and "if only".

Finally, brethern,
whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is of good repute,
if there is any excellence
and if anything worthy of praise,
dwell (ponder, think) on these things.
Philippians 4:8

Please pray for us that we can apply this verse. It is so easy to consume ourselves to the what ifs, and what we could have done differently and trying to figure out how Matthew learned of this, and sometimes this alone is probably tearing us apart. Please pray that we can start to heal. We know it's only 3 1/2 weeks but seems so intense. We feel so wounded and are looking for the joy in the morning again.


This is from several years ago of Jayson & Matthew playing a board game - very typical scene in our home.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Another survival day . . .

Some days just feel like survival days. Just working our way through to make it. It was one of those days today - from the moment we got up, to the end of the day. It was hard getting out of bed - knowing it's another day to face without Matthew, the painful memories, and the children who are so broken. Some days seem like almost concentrating to take the next breath to do the next thing.

I talked to another mom today who went through a similiar experience as Matthew, just a few months before Matthew. It's so heartbreaking. This affixation for the high adrenalin rush is a real thing many kids are playing around with. It's scary how many kids are "playing with death" to see how close they can come without dying.

We went today to the place Matthew use to work at. He only worked there about 4 months, but loved it. I was going in with a couple of my girls, and asked them if they'd be okay going in and they seemed to think they would. It was me that fell apart instead. Ohhhhh, it was so hard. I wanted to go up to the counter and see my tall son with a big grin when he caught my eye, asking me if we brought him a cappuccino. I wanted to sneek around a corner and find him stocking a shelf. It was very heart wrenching. The owners, an older Christian couple, were there, and were very compassionate and miss Matthew terribly too. It was neat to hear the man say how Matthew taught him to have more of an outward, verbal testimony. But oh, how our hearts just get ripped again - and again.

So, it was one of those days today, of surviving. By God's grace, we got through it, a moment at a time. Thank you for your much needed continued prayers.


Monday, January 03, 2005

Our children . . .

We have had so many e-mails asking how our children are doing, so we thought this would help you get to know them a little better.

We will start with those standing . . .
Stephen (17 1/2) - I spoke a little about him in another post. He's been holding together well, but the reality of Matthew gone is really hitting him, and he sees the change in our home. He is in 12th grade - for two years, as he is taking an automotive course as a highschool student, which he loves. He has been homeschooled through all the years, except now for taking this automotive class. He is doing real well. We have noticed him making the extra efforts to take more time with his siblings - playing games or just being with him.
Katie Rose (3 1/2) being held by Stephen. She is doing very well. The simple faith of a child. She will say every so often, she misses Matthew, but then says, but Matthew is ok - he is in heaven.

Matthew Norman - May 28, 1988 - December 11, 2004. How thankful we are for this recent picture. He loved holding Bethany and she was usually the first one he would seek out each morning or when he came home from work.

Bethany Faith - (19 months old) - The saddest part to me is Bethany will not remember Matthew and the way he adored her. We will for certain show her pictures and keep his memory alive in her that way, but she will not remember so much. And, her heart is so protected too, which is a blessing.

Benjamin - (11 yrs) - He is a very sweet, tender child. Shortly after this all happened with Matthew, he told me how thankful it was him that found Matthew, and not me or one of the girls. He is so sensitive. The pain is quite real in his heart. He cries often - his heart is breaking with missing Matthew. He will talk often though about the good times. He did so much in recent years with Matthew - everything from golfing, to fishing, to lots of UNO and Monopoly games.

Heidi - (13 yrs - twin) - Though she hurts, and will cry, she is the one who lifts my heart often as she sings around the house or puts music on. Heidi loves music and knows what will uplift our hearts. The tears still come with her, but she seems to keep herself very occuppied with the little ones or making some special snacks. She walks around often with Matthew's cap on that he got from our Make-A-Wish trip several years ago.

Heather (13 yrs - twin) - She was probably the closest girl to Matthew. They were a lot a like in many ways, and teased each other often too. She told me she misses Matthew's tugs on her pony tails. She is the one who seems to wants to hold on to more of his things - including wearing his winter coat. Matthew had the state quarter collection and she wants to continue that, and will have it out often looking at it. Heather is one to keep little things of special meaning, as Matthew was and are similiar with their sensitivities.

Jessica Joy (8 years old) - Jessica has been quite heart broken over Matthew's death and often will sob uncontrollably. She has slept several nights in our bed. She has had a hard time sleeping and will question so much why this all had to happen. Matthew had a special sensitivity towards Jessica after we went through two open heart surgeries with her and he spent many hours in the hospital by he bedside, reading to her and playing with her. I wrote this before, but we found a note in one of his notebooks with a big red heart and above it said "I love Jessica". We made a copy of it for her, and it's on her wall by her bed.

Jayson (15) is probably the one struggling the most with the actual events of Matthew's death. He is dealing with missing Matthew - even at times acts bored because "there is nothing to do." He is angry at the foolish thing Matthew did. He was the one who got Matthew down and has horrible visions of that in his mind. He wants nothing to do with going downstairs and even last night begged us to move. We are continually trying to get him to talk, and thankfully, he does open up. Our specific prayer request for him is that he does not become angry and bitter. We talked long last night about praying that God will give us a forgiving heart of what Matthew did. It will take him especially, awhile to get there. Pray that God will just ease those visions, and he will remember the many wonderful years of memories of him, rather than the few minutes of horrible ones. My heart aches so much for Jayson.

Melody Grace - (5) is the other child with the child-like faith, and talks about Matthew in heaven. She misses Matthew, but is not so broken like many of the rest. Thankfully she does not comprehend Matthew's death and did not see anything, but probably in time will understand more, and may question more. But she has a care-free spirit, loves to flutter around the house, and is usually singing or coloring. Another protected heart, which I am so thankful for.

Today we are working more on the bathroom - slowly as we can. We do what we can, as we can, taking breaks, talking with the kids, and trying to keep things moving. Stephen started his class back up today. Tomorrow Norm goes back to work since the holidays. We begin to sort out a new "normal."


Saturday, January 01, 2005

And so we start 2005 . . .

The day was much harder than we thought. We did our usual getting together last night with close friends, to welcome in the new year. Norm & I were pretty numb as the clock struck twelve. We observed others celebrating and having fun, which was fine, but it was hard to join the celebrations. We just held each other's hands tight.

We noticed last night as our children mingled with several close families that we know well - also that have large homeschooling families, that there was more of a keyed down tone. There was still lots of noise with 50+ people, but it was different. We noticed especially with our oldest son, Stephen (17 1/2) he was much quieter. We asked him several times if he was ok, even offering to leave early. Stephen has been the one who I think has tried to be the "man of the house" since Matthew's death, trying to hold us together, and keep us going. He was the first one to tell me with his arms around me, that he thought Matthew was gone, even before the ambulance arrived. So, I was watching this "strong" boy, who we have told numerous times to him, that it was ok to grieve, and he'd tell us he's hurting inside, but the tears don't come.

Today, they came. Norm & I are hurting so much, but to see our children hurt just make the pain to almost the unbearable point. Stephen just wept, and his whole body shook. He said he has missed Matthew from the beginning, and hurt, but now just sees all the differences with him gone, and the pain is really actually hurting his body. He said even though they were so different, they could talk well, tease well, and just misses his buddy. All of life will be different with him gone. God knew this from the very beginning, but we never anticipated this, and so many dreams seem shattered along with our hearts. I am thankful to see that Stephen was able to share, show the tears, and yet, oh, how I wish I could take the pain away from my living children.

And as I type this, I am listening to my favorite CD, New Mercy, by Karey & Kelly Nickel. One of their songs was just on, "He Doeth All Things Well". I will end with the words to this song. The music is beautiful and hope that if someone needs this, will encourage them to visit the site above to purchase it. This CD is played numerous times throughout the day in our home (has for quite a few years).

I know it's for my good,
still it's not understood,
why God would lead me here,
drowning in tears, broken and alone.
Yet I hear the Savior's voice,
the gentle healing voice,
I know, reminding me that He,
is always close to me and gives me strength to say,

I know He doeth all things well.
He doeth all things, well.
When you can't see love through the pain,
and your heart says God's to blame,
friend remember,
He doeth all things well.

So, when you have cried all you can cry,
still you found no reason why, my friend,
this is what I found,
grace always abounds,
grace will see you through.
For He comforts those who weep,
gives mercy to the weak.
I know, for I've questions too,
felt the same as you and will stand and say,
I know He doesth things well.
He doeth all things well.
When you can't see love through the pain.
And your heart seems to say God is to blame
Friend remember, He doeth all things well.
When you just can't see love through the pain,
and your heart says God is to blame,
just remember, He doeth all things well.
Just remember, He doeth all things well.
Words from New Mercy CD
by Karey & Kelly Nichel
Song titled, "He Doeth All Things Well"