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

Saturday, February 26, 2005

11 Weeks - Eating Ice Cream Again

Eleven weeks . . . we are eating ice cream again. We'd often eat icecream when the little ones would be in bed and the evening chores were done. But no one really asked for it for weeks. Then, it seems like, we just started eating it again this week - no celebrations - just getting back into some "routine". Norm said to me later - notice we hadn't eaten icecream for quite some time and we are now. It's just seems "different" I guess. Nothing we can totally put our finger on.

Four men from our church spent from 11 a.m. to about 8 p.m. helping Norm again. A closet was made in the schoolroom/family room, which at one end is now going to be Stephen's new room. He has a nice big closet. I got his corner all painted yesterday, and his bed & nightstand are in there. I think he might sleep down there for the first time tonight.

Drywalling has begun in our "new" bedroom (boy's old bedroom). The way this house was built, we are finding many crooked walls, so one wall had to be taken down and rebuilt so we did not have curvy walls. There sure is a lot of dust around here with this!

Before the men came over there was an AWANA "Regatta Boat Competion". Jayson (15) won for "First Place Design" - thought it sunk when put in water! Jessica (8) won third place in her age group - even though Norm had to bring her home early because she had a nose bleed that would not stop. She is on coumadin (blood thinner) for her artificial mitral valve and we were concerned her blood was too thin - but it wasn't. It's probably our dry winter weather here. Her sisters still enter hers, so she was excited when they brought a ribbon home for her!

Well, time for icecream . . .


Thursday, February 24, 2005

Joy in Heaven!

Likewise, I say unto you,
there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Luke 15:7

Our little Melody Grace (age 5) came to Norm tonight and said she wanted to ask Jesus in her heart. Norm got me, and we both talked with her and asked her questions, and she understood, and thanked Jesus for dying on the cross for her, and asked Him to take away her sins (and she knew this meant "naughty things") and asked Jesus to come into her heart. She was so excited.

Rejoice with us!

Do you know what it is to be saved and know for sure how to get to heaven? Click here

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

More construction & Job Interviews

This will be a short update as it's been a busy day, and we just got back from the kid's AWANA program. Yesterday Norm's 2 brothers and 1 brother-in-law came over and spent a lot of time helping Norm with the bathroom. His one brother did a lot of the electrical work and the other two got a lot of boards and drywall up. It's moving along! We are so thankful for this helping and encouragement through this. We were even blessed with a good meal and dessert from Norm's sister-in-law. Saturday a group of men are coming from church to help out. We are thankful.

Today Norm had a job interview for a "Programming Engineer" Position. It's about a 20 minute drive from our home, which is not bad. It is 2nd shift, AGAIN, which we are not thrilled about, but it's hard to get into a new place around here with avoiding it. He also has another job interview tomorrow (Thursday) for a Tool CNC Machinist Job. It's a little bit further drive, which he is not as thrilled about, also because this too is a 2nd shift job. He would really prefer the Programming Engineer position, and they may let him know by Friday. He was the first one they interviewed. So, at least the job interviews are coming along. That is good. It's just the "unknowns" and "uncertainties" at this point. Pray that both Norm & I can have a good attitude and be grateful if a 2nd shift job opens up. It's hard on me with LONNNGGG evenings with the children, and especially for Stephen (17) Norm would not see him as much throughout the week (no family dinners with everyone throughout the week, and we do eat most of our dinners together).

Stephen "thinks" the car WILL get fixed in automotive class tomorrow. THey finally found the loose wire and will solder it and get it working. That will be a great relief if that happens.

Jayson is seeing an orthodontist in the morning, as a refer from our dentist. Since the accident, Jayson's jaw has been locking up quite bad. So, we have to see what can be done.

Thanks for praying.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Matthew's Journal Found

With our moving bedrooms around, it's made us do a lot of cleaning, getting rid of things, and going through LOTS of things. I've been working on our schoolroom/family room where we have most of our schoolbooks, enclopedias, and old and fiction books. I went through a pile of workbooks, and "finally" found Matthew's journal. I and the girls had been looking for it, and just never came across it. For school when the children first start writing sentences, I try to get them to write. I found the one Matthew mainly wrote in during early 1999 to early 2002. We were into the "Y2K Preparedness" (which we are thankful for, as it helped so much when Norm was laid off), but Matthew wrote a lot about things we were doing. He talks often about Jessica, trading baseball cards with friends (which I had forgotten all about), books he read, when the two older boys got a Red Ryder BB Gun, going to homeschool band, planting the garden, looking forward to his birthday, going hunting, building forts, mom being in a bad mood :'( , about the venture of catching a mouse, piano lessons, video games and his high scores, about me going to have a baby and looking forward to it - he wrote on 12-6-99 " My mom had a baby. Her name is Melody Grace. I held her first of us kids. When you hold her and put your findger in the palm of her hand she holds your finger well." He loved babies.

Another funny thing he wrote on 1-21-00 was "Life is great. Mom has not correct our school in 2 months". Now I doubt that - but I could have been a little behind! :) It was interesting to see his language develop, and going from printing to cursive handwriting. He talked too about farm chores (small hobby farm we have) and cleaning the goat barn and earning money. He talked about Jessica often - and one of them being what he got her for her birthday on 9-12-00 - "Today is Jessica's birthday. I got her the Tiger Movie. She likes it a lot. She even gave me a hug." ohhhh.... it hits the heart.

But the best and most touching entry he wrote was about our trip to Disney world in January of 2000. We went to Disney through Make-A-Wish, because of our daughter, Jessica's serious heart complications. Here in the backs of our minds, going on this trip was because of Jessica's heart problems, and not knowing how long she will be on loan to us, and now the memories we have are so precious of the whole family, and with Matthew there. Matthew LOVED going. He talked often of saving and going again. (you can read about our Make-A-Wish Trip here.) But his journal entry below here will share a little more.

"We went to Disney World. Well first we went in a limo to the airport; from the airport we flew to Tennessee, from there to Orlando. At Give Kids the World [resort area in Orlando for children with serious illnesses]. We could eat all the ice cream we wanted and hotdogs. There was also a pool. My favorite of all the parks was Disney's Epcot. We went on a ride called Test Track. Stephen [oldest brother] is afraid of heights so he did not go on but my six year old brother did. Also my twin nine year old sisters were not afraid and even eleven year old Jayson was not afraid. Me and Jayson & Heidi & Heather & Benjamin all went on a rollar coaster called Quazy. It's scary at the beginning because it looked as if you would crash in to another roller coaster. It was sincerely the best time I ever had with my family."
You helped us make precious memories for more reasons than we ever imagined.

So, we think of the "puzzle pieces" of our lives that God has allowed. Though we wish Jessica never had to go through the open heart surgeries nor do we look forward to the future ones, God allowed some special memories to be made and sensitivities brought out in our children because of her. Matthew adored her. We would never have been able to go to Disney as a family (and specifically, flying or taking "two limos" to the airport!) Jessica's specific wish was to "see Mickey Mouse, give him a hug, and take a walk with him, which you can see on her MAW webpage. But MAW has also given us tickets that different organizations have donated, and we went as a family to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village which are connected parks in Detroit. We have gotten tickets to Whitecaps Baseball Games and recently (after Matthew's death) went to a Griffin's Hockey game. Last fall Jessica enjoyed a "reunion" and the Grand Rapid's Children's Museum with Mickey Mouse and Make-A-Wish was so nice to us and even took some extra family pictures. Though Matthew & Stephen did not go that day, I remember staying in close touch with them that day, as they went out with friends and then helped our neigbors with hay. The precious family memories that we have - and know are so important to keep building.

I came across more pictures of Matthew, which I am so thankful for. Just I wish I could just reached into those pictures and give him a hug.

Lots of precious memories to be thankful for - even if there are tears.


Saturday, February 19, 2005

10 weeks - Update & Another Song

Ten weeks. In someways it seems SO long ago, and the next minute I think Matthew is going to walk in the kitchen asking what's for dinner (when we barely finished lunch). The younger boys seem to be liking their bedroom. Funny thing is now that they are out of the living room, our oldest, Stephen is sleeping back on the couch. He was before, until the accident, and then he wanted more peace and quite to rest up. But now that the living room is "available" for quietness, he's back. We've not said much to him, but in his own way, I think he is dealing with it - maybe does not even realize it.

A man from our church spent the whole day with us, redoing all the gas lines and plumbing lines, to make it easier to remodel the downstairs bathroom. We had copper gas lines and he replaced them all with something safer, and even blessed us with a new water heater. We have been so awed at people's willingness, time and such giving hearts. Norm even talked to him and told him the new water heater was not a "need" but our friend felt that this would help out our gas bill and be safer since it was over 20 years old.

We've had some rough days emotionally, and as Norm says we have to keep "sweeping" our way through this, picking up the pieces, and working extra hard with each other. It's easy to be snappy and say things we don't mean.

It seems minor, but our car is still not working. Stephen took it to his automotive class about 8 weeks ago. It just quit on us, and they have replaced many parts, hoping that would be it. Then suddenly it started. Now it appears to be some electrical short "somewhere". The car will start, go a few feet, and die. It's been very frustrating. We have kind people, including our pastor, who has loaned us a vehicle, but it's frustrating too.

Thank you for continuing to pray. I want to close with this song that whenever we hear it reminds us so much of Matthew, and just what he went through.

Take You Back - by Jeremy Camp

The reason why I stand
The answer lies in you
You hung to make me strong
Though my praise was few
When I fall I bring your name down

But I have found in you
A heart that bleeds forgiveness
Replacing all these thoughts of painful memories
And I know your response will always be

I'll take you back always
Even when your fight is over now
I'll take you back
Even when the pain is coming through
I'll take you back

You satisfy this cry of what I'm looking for
And I'll take all I can and lay it down
before the throne of endless grace
Now that radiates what's true

I'm in the only place that erases all these faults
that have overtaken me
and I know your response will always be

I'll take you back
Even when your fight is over now
I'll take you back
Even when the pain is coming through
I'll take you back

I can only speak with a grateful heart
As I'm pierced by this gift of your love
I will always bring an offering
I can never thank you enough

You take me back always
Even when my fight is over now
You take me back
Even when the pain is coming through
You take me back

Oh Matthew ... do you know we'd take you back too?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

One bedroom done . . . two to go!

Well, our two youngest boys are finally out of the living room sleeping on the couch, and now are in their "new bedroom". If you look back to 02/12/05 you will see the changes we are making with exchanging bedrooms. So, they are tucked in and going to sleep and have been excited about it. It's a "race car" theme. We put a race car border at the top, and I stenciled, (and stenciled and stenciled!) a black and white checker pattern around the room that is about 6 inches high. What a job! They have their new posters up (some that were given as gifts) and new bedding (also a gift) and are thrilled! It's nice to see their excitement back. :) We moved their bunkbed and dressers up. The twins still have a lot of their hanging clothes and books in the closet till we get them moved (which means getting Norm and I moved first!).

As the boys moved stuff out of their room today, we came across some more of Matthew's things, that brings that lump back in our throats and the pain in our hearts. Even at times today, and not letting the boys know, it just "stings" to know we are having to do this because of Matthew's death. Sometimes again I am mad at his foolishness, and then the next minute I want to just hug him one more time and run my fingers through his hair. Ohhh, the things we don't treasure at the time, that we hang on to later. And today, we got his state income tax refund back. He would have been so excited. Instead, we put it into our savings for his gravestone.

It feels like we are moving forward, with the rocks along the path that we stumble over, fall down, and need to wipe the tears away from the pain. It's still pretty fresh. I get so many notes of how "strong" I sound. I am a normal person who definitely has the ups and downs. I question, I have the "I wishes", I thank God for the 16 years . . . and then, cry over the broken dreams - of the child we will always remember as "forever 16". We won't see him maturing in our minds. There's no graduation party we were talking about, there's no courtship or girlfriend, there's no wedding or grandchildren from him . . . but then as I break down over these lost future dreams, I know without a doubt he is before Jesus, maybe has not even gotten off his knees yet from praising Him. I wonder about his first moment in heaven - did he wonder how he got there - did he think "oh no - they are going to find me dead" - or will it seem like a blink of the eyes and he will turn around and we will be reunited? When death like this touches someone, it certainly does bring heaven, Jesus, and the reality of eternity a lot closer. If you are a person that fell across our page, and don't know Jesus as your personal Savior like Matthew did/does, and my husband and I with the assurance that we will be in heaven, please seek out the Lord. He is waiting for you. As I have mentioned before, one of Matthew's favorite songs was by MercyMe, and their song, I Can Only Imagine. If you click the link there, it gives the words, along with the meaning of how to know Jesus. If one person comes to know the Lord because of Matthew's death, though our pain is still so raw right now, we know for eternity's perspective "it will be worth it all, when we see Jesus."


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Katie's Night-Time Prayer

Katie - age 3

Dear God, please don't let Matthew be dead anymore. We really miss him. And please don't let him be dead anymore because we are sad, and if he isn't dead, then mommy won't cry anymore. Amen.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

9 weeks - Finally Seeing Changes with Remodeling

I did not even realize until 6 pm that it's "Saturday - 9 weeks since Matthew's death" and did not watch the clock today. That was good! We have been real busy the last couple of days with finally making some headway with the remodeling. We are changing bedrooms all around. The twins are in a real small bedroom, and are going to take our bedroom, and keep Bethany (21 mo) with them who still sleeps with us. The two younger boys are going to take the twins bedroom. Our older son is going to make a bedroom in our downstairs family room, and we are going to take the boys' large bedroom. So, Norm is working on the downstairs bathroom which will actually become ours and Stephen's. We moved the twins temporarily into the toddler bedroom. It's quite cramped with five in there, but it makes it possible to work on the twin's bedroom to make it the boy's bedroom (lost yet?!?!?!). There was a private doorway between the two girl's rooms, and a friend is over from church, and has taken that out and drywalled it up. I and Jayson and Heather have been painting the "new" boy's bedroom. They want a sports car theme, and have painted gray over the pink that was in there, and later will put up the sports car border. Jayson & Benjamin are REAL EXCITED about it, which is a joy to see. I think in a few days they should be able to move in there and won't be sleeping on the couches anymore! We are making progress.

We gave had some beautiful Michigan days - almost forty degrees and sunshine. We are very thankful for that - makes things seem brighter in many ways.

Continue praying regarding Norm's job situation. He is really hoping he will get called back to the same place. He's sent resumes out to several other places, but so many tool & die places are laying off and we just heard of one going through bankruptcy. It's helped to move forward on our projects, but there's just so much that can be done too when the normal bills continue! :)

Thanks for your prayers and caring for us. Today was an "up" day!


Thursday, February 10, 2005

Taxes, Bills, Sleep & Dreams

A couple of things have hit us again, which we weren't prepared for. We had to take care of Matthew's taxes. Extra paperwork had to be filled out since he died, and so Norm would get the return. Matthew would have been so excited to get the $100+ back. (A typical boy, he would have had it spent before he got it, or would have a hundred different ways to spend before he got it, and mom and dad would have been nagging him to SAVE it). Now instead, we will probably put it towards his gravestone. It's just makes the tears come again.

We are getting bills in from the day he died. The ambulance company, the hospital and then for x-rays. Today I had to make another call and give the insurance information, and also make sure that the x-ray was not read by someone days later, as he was gone. The lady was taken back by the death of our son, and was very sympathetic and said "just send the death certificate" and they'd make sure we would not get any more medical bills from them. But, we don't just want to show anyone his death certificate either without the understanding of how he died. Ohhhh....this stuff is still so hard.

I am finally sleeping better and not taking the sleeping pills anymore either. That is a good relief, and how thankful I am for peaceful sleep.

Benjamin, our 11 year old that found Matthew, is such a tender hearted boy. I wonder what God has in store for him. He has not been angry or bitter at what has happened. He still will say he is so thankful that neither Norm or I found Matthew, that we may have had a heartattack and died too. He says it would have been way to hard on his sisters. He is giving us more details of when he first found him, and it crushes my heart. He even said how he looked, turned away and pinched himself and then looked again and realized this was real. Oh, those images that I cannot even quite fathom in my mind. But then, he is having such sweet dreams that God is allowing him to have. He is having dreams of Matthew talking to him. The other day he said he had a dream that he went into the furnance room and saw Matthew putting wood in the furnance and he asked him what he is doing, and he said, just taking care of the family. Benjamin said he asked what everyone has been doing since he was gone, and Benjamin told him. Then Matthew told him too that he was sorry that he did something so dumb, and he really didn't mean to die, and they hugged. Benjamin said the dream was so real, and asked me if it could have been real! I am so thankful God is allowing these healing dreams.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

A Poem For Our Readers

Just For This Morning...

Just for this morning, I am going to smile when
I see your face and laugh when I feel like crying.

Just for this morning, I will let you choose what
you want to wear, and smile and say how perfect it is.

Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry,
and pick you up and take you to the park to play.

Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink,
and let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together.

Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the telephone and keep
the computer off, and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles.

Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble
when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck, and I will buy
you one if he comes by.

Just for this afternoon, I won't worry about what you are going to be
when you grow up, or second guess every decision I have made
where you are concerned.

Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake
cookies, and won't stand over you trying to fix them.

Just for this afternoon, I will take us to McDonald's and
buy us both a Happy Meal so you can have both toys.

Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell
you a story about how you were born and how much I love you.

Just for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub and not get angry.

Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late while
we sit on the porch and count all the stars.

Just for this evening, I will snuggle beside you for
hours, and miss my favorite TV shows.

Just for this evening when I run my finger through your hair as you pray,
I will simply be grateful that God has given me the greatest gift ever given.
I will think about the mothers who are searching
for their missing children,
the mothers who are visiting their children's graves
instead of their bedrooms,
and mothers who are in hospital rooms
watching their children suffer senselessly,
and screaming inside because they can't handle it anymore,
and when I kiss you goodnight I will hold you a little tighter,
a little longer.
It is then that I will thank God for you, and ask Him for nothing,
except one more day.............

by Sally Meyer

Monday, February 07, 2005

Sleepless Night

It's almost 5 am and here I am. I've not slept at all yet. It's strange how going through this grieving, how some nights now I can fall asleep, but other nights I feel so fidgety and sleep won't come. It's been some rough days and I don't want this to sound like "woe is me", but I want to beg God for some "normalcy" and no more piled on our plate to deal with. Norm was laid off Friday from his job. It was just a temp job through a staffing company, and he was close to his 90 days, but not close enough to get unemployment. The place he was working at seemed to really like him, and did tell Norm if things pick up in 2-3 weeks they may call him back. In the mean time we are hoping the staffing place can find something else for Norm.

Sunday morning at church the teen boys sang. It was the first time they sang since Matthew died. That was hard not seeing him there.

I just read an excellent book called When I Lay My Isaac Down, by Carol Kent. Though our stories are totally different, the emotions are so similar. Carol's only child, a son, was charged with first degree murder for murdering his wife's ex-husband. I am too sleepy to go into great length of the book, but when I was first told about it, I checked my library system, and there were six, and they were all loaned out. A friend later sent one to me, and I read it in one day. I recommend it to anyone - to understand what the hurting go through, and if you are one that may have lost a child, or has a rebellious one, it would be very encouraging to read. She even speaks of trying to find the "new normal".

Right now I feel we are at rock bottom. It's easy for Norm & I to snap at each other, and not take the time to work through things. Tensions have been high the last few days. We each grieve and react differently and at times it's hard to understand the other's reasoning with things. We know how important it is to work on our relationship during this time, so please do pray for us that we will not allow our marriage, our relationship and the responsibility we have with our children to be worn down. It's not only a physical loss we have had and emotional pain, but a deffinite spiritual battle that is going on and we don't way the enemy winning. Carol Kent in her book talks about her son being as Isaac, when Abraham was told to use him as an offering, and then, God provided a lamb. We all have Isaac's to lay down, including the frictions we are going through, that we have to lay down. It's not easy. So many will say to me how strong I am, but at times I feel like I am crumbling apart. It's God's complete strength I need - "I" am not strong.

Thank you for praying and caring.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Better Days

Despite getting the autopsy on Monday, which was hard for both Norm & I (& we burned it so none of our children would come across it and read) we have had some better days. Jayson & Benjamin are still sleeping upstairs on the couches, but I think we all have been sleeping better, including me. For me it's been almost a week that I have not laid awake for hours trying to fall asleep. That has really helped in being able to function better throughout the day. We have been doing more school work and reading, which has helped the children be in more of a schedule and have things to do. I like to make the popular fun fur scarves, and have gotten some orders to make them, and am making some for gifts, so that keeps my fidgety hands busy. :) Someone also gave our kids some puzzles which was a great idea and they have had fun putting those together.

Both Stephen & Jayson are feeling MUCH better from the accident. Stephen went back to work this week (at a horse stable), and though he still tires easily, and will take a nap in the afternoon after his automotive class, he is doing much better. His headaches are gone for the most part. He is still having problems with his jaw clicking when he eats, but it seems a little better. Jayson's back is feeling better too, though it does ache some in the mornings (maybe from sleeping on the couch?). He got the staples out of his head and stiches out of his leg last week. The one on his head seems to have healed well, but on his leg, that has been a little infected, but seems to be getting better. We are continually reminded of how much we have to be thankful for. The truck is in our driveway, and is a daily reminder of how much they were protected and how much worse it could have been.
Norm & I have been talking some on what to do with Matthew's gravestone. Norm use to work for his uncle at a place that made them when we were first married, and his uncle still does some business with it, and a cousin designs them. So, we are coming up with ideas. One of Matthew's favorite songs was by MercyMe, I Can Only Imagine. If you never heard this song (or even if you have) click that link for the song. The words are there, along with a real neat picture. Anyway, we may use a couple lines from the song, "Surrounded by God's Glory - Forever Worshipping Him". On Angela's gravestone we also used a line from Jesus Loves Me song, and have "Little Ones to Him Belong". Matthew loved music, and loved this song so much. As one of the children have said though, he does not have to "imagine" anymore - we do though!
We still have a lot to do and even get motivated to do. Norm has not done much recently with the bathroom downstairs. We are still talking about switching bedrooms around and trying to figure that all out. So, we have a long ways to go as far as making the physical new starts.
Thank you for the many notes again, and for your prayers. We know it's what is getting us through these days. The song that was sung at Angela's funeral was "Life is Hard, But God is Good" and seems to still be appropriate for these days.