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

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Our Nation Should Be Mourning

This morning, Terri Schiavo died

For an interesting perspective of her last words, read here.

If my people, which are called by my name,
shall humble themselves, and pray,

and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven,

and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land

II Chronicles 7:14

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

"Homesick" song by MercyMe

If you have been reading our blog for awhile, you know that Christian music really touches our heart, especially when it hits the right cords of what we are going through. Several weeks ago a friend encouraged me to listen to this song, and though I could not get it to come up on the computer, for some "funny reason" after that, we kept hearing it on the Christian radio station. Another blog that I read also shared this song, and thought I'd share it with our readers too. If you have loved ones in heaven, you will understand why this song touches us. And too, I think it touches on that ache in our hearts - it doesn't go away.

"HOMESICK" by MercyMe

You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I'm still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbyes
And in Christ, there is no end
So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow

I've never been more homesick than now.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Our scare & update (LONG!)

I was updating this blog early this afternoon, when the children came running in to say there is a man here from FIA - which is Family Independance Agency (social services). It took us by quite a surprise, got all the children in the house and Norm & I went outside and talked with him. To make a long story short, he had to investigate since there was a death in our home, and make sure the children were getting care - as far as counseling or having someone available because of Matthew's death. The man was very kind, and found out after talking with him a definite Christian, and reassured us that when he walked out the door it was a closed case. At first he wanted to see the whole house and interview the children individually, which we were very concerned about, but after talking to us for awhile he did not feel that was necessary, and mainly just greeted each child (with everyone around) & took a quick walk through out house. He kept assuring us that everything was ok, and and nothing was alarming to him, and we had nothing to worry about. He also assured us of what we have been doing, in being so available to our children in talking with them, and even with Norm being home, though he knows it would be hard finacially, what good that would be for the children. He said in our case he could see secular counseling would not be to our advantage, and seemed to appreciate the repor we have with our pastor and how available he is to us. During this conversation, I was able to get ahold of our pastor who did come quickly and that was helpful. By law, we knew we did not HAVE to let him in or see the children, unless he had a warrant, but being he was very kind, understanding we were "okay" with it. Both Norm and I sensed that had we blocked him from seeing the children and the house, it could cause undo suspicions and result in this to be on-going and much harder to deal with. Both Norm and I felt, since this had to take place, God sent the right man to our home. I think it was good that he saw the interactions of our Pastor and our children, who have a great love and respect for him. Jessica has a special running joke with the Pastor and have a "sign language" for it, and he picked up on their little signals and laughed at it.

But, it was very unnerving, and did shake us up. "In everything give thanks" - and we are thankful that Norm was home, and that a Christian man did the interview, the children were not uptight and were their normal selves, and that our Pastor could be here. And tonight, our Pastor came over again, just to talk with us, read Scripture, pray with us, and help ease things a bit. Yes, we have a lot to be thankful for.

We did have a "funny" scare shortly after the FIA visit. We had to get some groceries, and stopped for a coffee. One of my close friends was there visiting with one of the workers at the coffee shoppe. We told them what happened, and as we are talking a police officer walks it, is looking at some papers, walks over to our table and says ."Is there a . . . "(pauses) then names someone else . .. "here". Both Norm and I froze, thinking he was going to say our name, and my friend did too! Whewwww . . . I think we are ok for now! :)

As far as a prayer request regarding this, pray that this is overwith and settled, but also again, Matthew's story can be used to prevent other families going through the same thing. This FIA man was interested in Matthew's memorial web page and with the many people and families he meets up with, he can share this, if so led to. On this note, a mom recently wrote to me that she read our webpage and then talked to her children about this, and found out her daughter was experimenting with the "breath play" and hopefully Matthew's story will scare her to stop her from this.

But here below is what I started earlier in the day, and will update you on the rest of our lives!

It's been almost a week since we updated, and have had numerous people asking how things are going and how we did over the Easter weekend. The weekend was pretty low-key, though we did make it to church for an early service, breakfast and the later service. The kids all looked nice in their new clothes. I said something about getting a "family" picture and severl of the children said they did not want to do it this year. There would be that very noticeable gap. I should have gotten some individual pictures of the children when they were doing something, but I guess I didn't have the heart to either.

Friday night we went to a Good Friday Service at our church, and Jessica really had a hard time with it, that I left halfway through with her, and we just stayed in the library, and was trying to distract her. Just certain things will touch one of us off. We are doing "better" but will the pain and tears ever go away? I talked to an older mom at church Sunday who lost her son years ago, and she also just lost her husband, and she said the pain of losing a child never goes away, because of so many lost dreams. She said it was harder losing her son than her husband, and the grief is very new with losing her husband.

How is Norms job hunting going? We keep sending out resumes, and we just don't hear anything back. Norm recently learned that many times one tool & die place has an agreement with another tool & die place not to hire people that used to work for the other and there appears to be quite an "agreement" with that. We are selling many of our "Y2K items" - and just sold a wind generator and Norm plans on selling some solar panels, so that is helping out. We will be starting back with selling puppies soon. We are praying someone will call us soon with a litter they'd like us to help them with, but in two weeks our own litter will be ready too (some black lab/collie mixes). Norm is getting geared up too for the small engine repair and has already gotten a couple of calls from repeat customers who want him to tune-up their lawnmowers for the new season.

Have you found a new van? No we have not found a van. We keep watching the newspaper, and ebay that are close by, but the right one has not been there. BUT, Stephen did get a new truck! He was all smiles and is very excited. It's just like his other truck, but there are engine problems in the new one, which is why he got a great deal on it. So, he is now working on removing the engine from his old truck and putting it in his "new" truck. His new truck is driveable, so once he gets the engine out, he will drive it to school, and then his teacher and class will help put it in. I am so thankful for these things that help keep him busy and motivated. He also is attending a Bible Study with other homeschoolers and really likes it and will talk often about the things they discussed. This Bible Study has really encouraged him to have his own devotions on a regular basis. Not too long ago I asked him why I keep finding his Bible with the cereal boxes! He's the first to get up, so as he is eating breakfast, he does his Bible reading, and so it's a reminder with his Bible by the cereal boxes. I am so thankful for "his" yearning for this, rather that us pushing him.

How is Stephen doing in his school? He is doing very well in his class. The automotive course he is taking is actually through a public school and he has seen a lot of crazy things. A week ago the school had a "lockdown" to search for drugs, and now they are putting in very high tech cameras. He stays very firm with his convictions, and the kids seem to respect him and know not to be swearing around him. This is a two year course and he (& us) are not sure if he will actually graduate this year, or go another year, to take the 2nd year. He is checking into an automotive class through a local community college, and is hopeful to get a good job, somewhat as an apprentice. If he can get a good job, then he probably will go for the automotive classes at the community college which are at night. He has a lot going for him, and so many decisions to make! Norm & I do think it would be best for him to graduate this year (and probably not til fall, as he has some homeschool courses to finish up), but we will see how God works out the details!

How are Jayson and Benjamin doing concerning going downstairs and are they having any nightmares about the accident? They are doing pretty good. They will go downstairs when Norm is working down there and it does not seem to bother them. The change already is pretty dramatic, so I am sure that helps. But, they still have not wanted to have their game table back down there, or spend time "playing" down there. Thankfully, they don't hesitate going down when we are working down there. They are doing well sleeping, and don't have nightmares, but do want music or a story tape on, and generally fall asleep with a light on, and want the window shades open for light too. That is fine with us if that is more comforting to them. They really "love" their new room, and we are confident this really helped them to "start over".

How are the boys doing since the truck accident? Overall, doing well. Stephen still will say his knees give him some pain. His jaw seems to be healed. I think he still tires more easily, which we were told with concussions, can last a good 6 months. Jayson is the one having the most problems since the accident, with his jaw locking up, sometimes 4 hours at a time and is getting more headaches when it locks. The car insurance is paying for his treatments for the dentist and orthodontist. Jayson got a bite plate that he is suppose to wear just about 24 hours - except for eating and he can have it off for church. This bite plate and treatment were almost $2,000. So far though, it does not seem to be working, and he still has a very loud click in his jaw (which you can easily hear across a room). The ortho wants him to try it for a few more weeks, and then we may have to consider braces if this bite plate does not work.

How is the remodeling going? We continue to plug away at this. Norm's brother came over yesterday and spent the whole day working with Norm, which has been great encouragement. It's just a LOT that has to be done, and I know Norm especially is tiring from doing it, and just wants it done. This remodeling of course was nothing we planned, yet HAS to be done, and gets wearing - it's not the normal excitement of a remodeling project full of dreams, but is a healing process, along with tears and reminders that seep through the wound at times. Right now he is working on the drop ceiling in the bathroom. Being we are having to do so much, we cannot see the finished project yet. Norm really wants to push things more to get it done, with wanting to get all set up again with the small engine repair, but knows too how we have to get this remodeling settled so we can get in the right bedrooms and try to get things more normalized.

How are you and Norm doing? How are you making ends meet? We are doing ok. We have found it's easy to be snippy with each other, and working through things more. I at the beginning had a harder time sleeping, and now Norm is dealing with some insomnia. I think a lot is on his mind - even with the details of the next step with the remodeling. As I mentioned above, right now we are making ends meet with Ebay and God has certainly supplied our needs and "wants". I personally get nervous about things, but then when a day like today happens, I know God is in control, and know "for now" He wants Norm to be home. I am thankful for those that are close to us, and understand the many emotions we are working with and are available to us.

Also one last question, how is your homeschooling going? I finally feel like we are getting back to a schedule and more accountability with it. The children have been "doing school" for over 6 weeks, but it's not been me pressuring, or really buckling down to get it ALL done. We also consider the learning they are doing with remodeling our "home economics" course, and they are learning a lot with that! But I just reworked their schedules, went through books, and have it all written down again for our goals and they know exactly what they have to do. We generally continue some of our courses through the summer (mainly math and reading) so they don't forget so much, and we will have to continue with this. They also have their personal goals of wanting to be where some of their homeschooled friends are with books, and want to have them finished.

We do seem to all be over the colds, but a 12 hour flu bug has seem to hit a couple of the children, and we are hopeful it does not go all the way around the family. Jessica had it first, getting sick in the middle of the night, and Heather followed the next night. Jessica, because of her heart problems, already seems frail to us, and when she gets sick, it's much harder on her. If she is not feeling a little spunkier by the end of the week, we will have her seen. She seems to be dealing with heartburn a lot, and just seems to young to have to have this problem.

Whew! I am done, and if you made it through this whole update, thank you for caring and reading all this. We so appreciate your prayers, and notes and encouragement. I will end here with a couple of the verses we read with our Pastor tonight.

Psalm 40:5,11, 16, 17

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count.

As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, "Great is the LORD!"
As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Why the format change?

I was surprised this morning to receive numerous e-mails why we changed the format of our blog, and taking Matthew's picture off this blog and replacing with a "barn". Several were concerned that we are having a "rougher time", and it's not that. Actually, I talked to Norm about it first. He often reads what I post - helps me make changes, or take something out - or add something. I asked him last night about taking Matthew's picture off the blog. I was surprised that it actually seemed to bother him more at first. We discussed it, and the main reason we are writing the blog is more of an update of what we doing "as a family", and it's not "centered" on Matthew, but first as God being the center of our home. He has blessed us with a large family. Yes, we are still grieving. We have very much up and down days, or should I say, up and down moments. I will think, we are "doing better today" and then suddenly something hits us. Even last night as I was watching the little ones playing on the teeter totter, it brought back the memories of Matthew as a playful little boy, and I got teary-eyed. Melody (5) noticed it, and said to Norm, "Mommy is sad because Matthew used to love his teeter-totter". I cannot even remember if Matthew had one, but interesting she picked up on the mood!

Anyway, Norm & I talked about it, and we do have Matthew's Memorial Webpage, which we keep updated, and certainly will talk here of what we are going through as we go through this valley, but we are also looking for "joy in the morning." I know many bloggers have "their" picture on it, but first, I don't like pictures of me, and second, it's about our family, and our family picture would be quite small in that little frame. So, we will change it from time to time, but I liked the picture the kids just took on my digital of our little barn. We have many memories there from the past - and new ones to be made there. Norm originally built it almost 8 years ago when Jessica was born, and diagnosed with heart problems. We were encouraged to give her formual for more calories, and I wanted to keep nursing her. So, we got goats, and also gave her goat's milk - and the rest of our family. There is a lot of nutritional value with goat's milk, and most like mother's milk - and none of the added hormones or antibiotics we get in store bought milk. But, when Norm was first laid off two years ago, and we had to make changes in our spending, we did end up finding homes for our goats, because of the expense of hay and grain. :( We hope to get goats and lambs again for our "younger generation" of children to experience this. Stephen and Matthew were a part of many years of milking the goats, cleaning the stalls, playing in the upper hayloft, getting loads of hay up there, etc. Good, sweet memories.

Today was one of those days too, when it started out well - and then we got the mail. Matthew collected coins and mail-ordered a few coins, and now gets "junk" mail for this. We get this often. But today too, we got a medical bill addressed to Matthew, asking "him" to explain the accident that happened on 12/11/04- the day he died. So, I had to call to tell them Matthew died that day, and the gal said she was sorry, and to throw the letter away and it did not have to be answered (thankfully). So, those little things come at unannouced times, and catch us off-guard.

We still have a lot to go through. Even this first Easter holiday - Good Friday service, early morning Ressurection Sunday service/breakfast - though focused on our Jesus who died for us, we will miss Matthew being here a part of our family. Norm has expressed this several times how it's going to be so different, and remembering last year in what we did. These are our "growing & grieving pains."

Thank you for thinking of us, and praying.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Teeter Totters

Norm took a break from sanding drywall, to making a teeter totter for the little ones. The little girls had been putting boards on buckets trying to make their own teeter totter, so Norm made some memories tonight! Ohhh...they were delighted. Here's a picture of Bethany who kept saying over and over "teeter totter". Such delight!

I've seen this several times, and ran across it again at another website. Just thought this would be something different and "light" to share. :)

Monday, March 21, 2005

Revive Me!

It's been several days since I've had a chance to update. Just general life with our busy family keeps us on the go. It finally seems like we are over the hump of the sick children - just a few sniffles and coughs left. We are ready for spring. It's "suppose" to reach in the low 40's for the coming days, which will be welcomed.

Saturday was 14 weeks since Matthew's death. We kept busy with things around the house. A man from church came and helped Norm with more of the drywalling in the afternoon. We hope to start painting the bathroom within the next few days. Saturday late afternoon we took the girls shopping. Each of us were blessed with a Target Gift Card from a special friend. Being we still do not have a big family van, we just took the girls, and will have a time out with the boys later. They had fun looking around, and we mainly encouraged them to get things they need. We were able to get a mirror too for our bathroom. Afterwards we took the girls to Baskin Robbins for an icecream treat - which was also part of their gift, and what a nice treat! It was late by the time we got home, but the icecream kept them awake with lots of silly giggling. :)

Yet, later, Jessica again said, how much fun Matthew would have had, and how excited he would have been. There's always that little lump in our throats. Even Norm said as he was looking around Target, the material things just have lost so much value as we see things so much more eternal - a hard way of being reminded in going through a death.

We were so concerned with Jayson & Benjamin who found Matthew and appear to be healing normally and well (still with tears, and reminders and a long ways to go). Right now we are more concerned about Jessica (8), because she seems to blame herself. She saw Matthew after he got up "that morning" as she refers to it, and greeted him and he did not reply. She keeps saying she wishes she would have talked to him more and maybe "woke him up better". When we first started to look for him, she was the first to knock on the bathroom door, and not get a response, but she just thought she was being "typically" ignored. She keeps telling us she wishes she would have done something sooner. We try to tell her over and over it is not her fault, and that it was Matthew's foolishness, and he certainly would feel terrible if he knew she was taking on any blame. So, specifically pray that Jessica would have more of a peace about this, and that she would give this over to the Lord. She has such a tender heart, and misses him dearly. They had a special bond. After Jessica's heart surgeries 7 years ago, Matthew spent a lot of time by her bedside, talking to her and reading to her. Through the years he would give her special presents - maybe thinking "her" time was limited. She often talks about our last Thanksgiving when Matthew played with her and picked her up and swung her around. It just hurts Norm & I terribly to see her carry such a burden on her little shoulders and heart, and we are praying for a healing & peace for her.

Sunday was a harder day. It was always such a family day, and we had more of a low that day, and dealing with emotions. Below are some verses that encouraged me, that I will end this post in.

Today though we were encouraged with a visit from Norm's brother Brian and SIL Paula. They brought our kids a big cake and sandwiches and took Norm & I out for lunch. It was nice to visit with them and have that encouragement. The kids were thrilled too when a big box arrived in the mail with beautiful new "Easter clothes" for each of them from grandparents. They had fun dressing up today. Norm & I went to our individual men's/ladies Bible study at church which was good. I am so thankful for the fellowship in our church and the accountability that is given.

Thank you again for the encouraging notes & comments. Here now is part of Psalm 119 that really encouraged me.

Psalm 119:145-160; 167, 168
145 I cried with all my heart; answer me, O LORD! I will observe Your statutes.
146 I cried to You; save me And I shall keep Your testimonies.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words.
148 My eyes anticipate the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.
149 Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your ordinances.
150 Those who follow after wickedness draw near; They are far from Your law.
151 You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth.
152 Of old I have known from Your testimonies That You have founded them forever.
153 Look upon my affliction and rescue me, For I do not forget Your law.
154 Plead my cause and redeem me; Revive me according to Your word.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked, For they do not seek Your statutes.
156 Great are Your mercies, O LORD; Revive me according to Your ordinances.
157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, Yet I do not turn aside from Your testimonies.
158 I behold the treacherous and loathe them, Because they do not keep Your word.
159 Consider how I love Your precepts; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your lovingkindness.
160 The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.
167 My soul keeps Your testimonies, And I love them exceedingly.
168 I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies, For all my ways are before You.

In Memory of my mom

(I found this in my draft file, and realized I never posted it, but want to keep it in by date, because of the significance of this date).

My mom died one year ago today. It was not the bittersweet good-bye I had hoped it would be. I only knew moments before she died that she was near death, and when I called the hospital, she was already gone. My dad had a private burial, and there was a memorial service five days later. There's been an estrangement on my side of the family for many years. It's been a difficult situation, on both sides, in different ways. By my parents choice, they have only "met" a few of our children. But we did go to the memorial service, with several of our children, including Matthew. My dad shook his hand, remarked about his firm handshake, and how tall he was. I am so thankful he got to meet him. Matthew trying to relate to him, even said days later, he wishes he could just show up at his door, and say, "I am your grandson, and I am here to help you." He thought maybe he could get through the years of hardness. Knowing the years of waiting I've gone through, we did not want him hurt either. Little did we know that Matthew would also be gone, less than a year later. God uniquely allowed for this short greeting. I am thankful.

My dad called a few weeks after Matthew died. It was the first call in many, many years. Though it was short, he called. He understood with me the pain of death. To preserve my family and not to "gossip" and share "one side" of the story, I will leave it there. But if you read this, please pray for my dad, and sister. As I told my dad numerous times, God didn't give up on me, or us, and neither will I give up on reconcilliation. I know God would want it, and I know if my mom could come back, she'd want it too. Kind of strange thinking Matthew is with my mom now.

If you have read through many of my posts you know how music touches me, and God so often speaks to me through music. This song from Selah I heard for the first time on our ride home after my mom's memorial service. Again, GOD'S PERFECT TIMING. It really touched me. The parts in bold just bring me to awe of God. Just to know His thoughts of each of us are neverending. And when I hear the part of "I think I glimpse eternity", it just makes me shiver, to think of Matthew and my mom meeting - and to know my mom does love me, forgive me and all is made right. That's wow - awe. . . And despite all the struggles of life, GOD will raise us with HIS strength - not our own.

You Raise Me Up - by Selah

When I am down, and oh my soul, so weary,
when troubles come and my heart burdened be.

Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
until You come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains.
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas.
I am strong, when I am on Your shoulders.
You raise me up to more than I can be

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains.
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas.
I am strong, when I am on Your shoulders.
You raise me up to more than I can be.

There is no life, no life without its hunger,
each restless heart beats so imperfectly.
But when You come and I am filled with wonder,
sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains.
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas.
I am strong, when I am on Your shoulders.
You raise me up to more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains.
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas.
I am strong, when I am on Your shoulders.
You raise me up, to more than I can be.

I love you mom . . .walk the golden streets with Matthew, Angela and Grandpa.
I think "I glimpse eternity" when I think of the days we all will be reunited

Friday, March 18, 2005

When God Ran (song)

We heard this song for the first time today. I found out it has been out awhile, but I think the Lord just saved it for us for now. We heard it on the radio in the car, and it really touched Norm and I - it seemed so appropriate for Matthew, and never pictured it just like this.

From what we understand Philips Craig & Dean first sang it, and now Casting Crowns has a version of it out.

You can hear the music at:

Norm & I have talked often - what was Matthew's first thought when he took that first breath in heaven? Was the glory of God so overwhelming that the past did not cross his mind? Was it just awe, and he still has not gotten off his knees? Was it "oh no . . . how did I get here . . . oh no my parents, my sister's and brothers" ? Was it a second of grief . . . and then God ran to him?

by Benny Hester

Almighty God,
The Great I Am
Immoveable Rock,
Omnipotent powerful

Awesome Lord,
Victorious Warrior
Mighty Conquerer,
Commanding King of Kings
And the only time,
the only time I ever saw Him run
Was when

He ran to me,
Took me in His arms, held my head to His chest
And said "My son's come home again".
Looked in my face, wiped the tears from my eyes
With forgiveness in His voice
He said "Son, do you know I still love you?"

It caught me by surprise when God ran

The day I left Home,
I knew I'd broken His heart
I wondered if
Things would ever be the same,

Then one night,
I remembered His love for me
And down that dusty road, ahead I could see
It was the only time,
the only time I ever saw Him run

Was when He ran to me,
Took me in His arms, held my head to His chest
And said "My son's come home again".
Looked in my face, wiped the tears from my eyes
With forgiveness in His voice
He said "Son, do you know I still love you?"

It caught me by surprise, It dropped me to my knees
When God ran

Holy God, Righteous One
Who turned my way
Now I know, You've been waiting
For this day

Monday, March 14, 2005

We Need a Van - Norm's Job, etc.

We try to be careful what is written on here, but Norm told me today since so many are reading this and praying for us, to let a need known. We had a 12 passenger van that we sold last summer. It was having problems, and the man that bought it knew about it all, and it helped us financially. When we all go out together, which is generally only church, Norm and our oldest son drive. If we go to grandparents or visit at a friends, we just drive two vehicles. But the kids, even our oldest who is more independent, have really been wanting to do something "special" together as a family, so we are seeking out trying to find a "good cheap 15 passenger van". This "special" means - day visits - just being able to all go away for the day as a family, or to be able to go visit someone, including Norm's brother that lives in Pennsylvania, that we have not been there in many years (8+???)

Norm had thought he found "the one" on Saturday, after looking through eBay. He bid on it, and then went with our boys 2 1/2 hours one way to see it. It was coming from a church and the people were real friendly and hopeful we would get it. Norm got back home about 10 minutes before the bidding ended, and bid again. But in the "excitement" of it, the last time he bid, he forgot to put in the decimal point and the cents, and it ended. He was so discouraged. It was just a little over $1,000 and ran good. It needed new brakes, but our son Stephen can do that now (and just got state certified). But, for some reason, it was not meant to be, and God must have something better planned, or is telling us to just wait.

If you know someone in the Michigan area who is trying to sell a 15 passenger van, this is what we are looking for! We need to find a good price, and not have to put a lot of money into it either once we get it. We would consider a 12 passenger, which is what we had before, but if we want to go on any trip, it just does not give us any room to store stuff.

Our children are growing up so fast, and I think especially with Matthew's death, we just know how important our time is with our family and making memories, and "being there" for them.

Many have asked how Norm's job search is going. He continues to send out resumes to places in the tool & die field. In Michigan, though it seems to be getting somewhat better, the tool & die field has suffered a lot, and the pay rate has gone down considerably. Norm knows he will have to take at least half of what he made before. But, we know too, we can live on a lot less. Norm does not want a job with a lot of extra overtime hours. It's not worth the time away from the family. He does not want to drive any further than 40 minutes one way.

When Norm was laid off the last time, he put full-time work into small engine repair, repairing mainly lawnmowers, tillers, snowblowers, etc. He did get work, but advertising was expensive in getting the work. He continued sending resumes out, and then did get a temporary job at a tool & die place, but was only for a few months, as they slowed down.

Norm's heart's desire is to try to find something so he can be home and work out of our home and be with our children and be a big part in training and raising them. (Please do NOT send us MLM opportunities - we've been there, and will not do that!!) I think he feels this even more strongly after losing Matthew, and feels he missed out on opportunities with him. He is not giving up on an outside job, and continues to apply, but wonders too why the door is continual shut to this. We also have a home business we mainly do through the spring, summer and fall, that we are licensed for have have been doing for over 10 years called Puppy Halfway House, which is taking in puppies and finding homes for them. Last year, because of Michigan economy it was slower than normal, but we think this year might be better. We will be starting this back up in a few weeks, when it gets a little warmer. I also have been making bracelets, which has helped pay for some of our utility bills, and I really enjoy doing it and keeping my hands busy. Norm has been doing a lot with the remodeling, but also selling things on eBay, and it's been neat to see how God provides. We just need a clear direction for the future, and are hoping thing will fall into place in the way He desires.

So, we'd greatly appreciate your prayers for the direction Norm should go regarding a job and the opportunity to find a 15 passenger van that would suit our family. It may be that our puppy business will really boom this spring and be a clear direction to go for now. It is something we can all do as a family, and our children love handling the pups. And, it's easy to not take in pups, when we need some time off - to go on a trip in our van! :)

We've had some better days. Lots of talking. We are still struggling with the colds, and several of the younger children had to go on to antibiotics after fighting a fever for over a week. So, prayfully we are on the mend with this! Thank you for the many e-mails, but most of all your prayers and caring.


Saturday, March 12, 2005

13 Weeks - Poem "Hold Them A Little Closer"

Another week - and we are doing ok. I think we all know we will "make it" yet, there are still the tears and precious memories that make us choke up. It was Benjamin's (11) turn tonight. He knows red was Matthew's favorite color, and says everywhere he looks, there's red. He misses the family time with Matthew - when it seems like we are all together, yet, there's the missing person. He said at times he wishes we could fast forward to the rapture. Both Norm & I understand. Yet, God is not through with us yet . We had a good talk with Benjamin, and he did go to bed with a smile. That is good.

A lady I've known for over 8 years by e-mail only - we have never met in person, but have e-mailed and talked on the phone several times. Her son Benjamin died in 1996. This is a poem she wrote 11 months after he died. She gave me permission to share it, as our hearts now understand hers more, and share the same pain.


I pray you never walk through
The agony I’ve known
I pray that all your little ones
Will stay until they’ve grown.
I pray that you can really hear
My brokenhearted cries
So you will know the anguish
When a child dies.

I pray it makes you hold them
Closer to your breast
And savor every moment
As if it were the best.
For none of us can ever know
How soon they will be gone
And all we’ll have are memories
To hold us in the dawn.

Oh dear and tired mother
Of rambunctious little lambs
Do not grow weary of washing
And helping little hands.
Remember that these precious ones
May not be with us long
And we will have to suffer
Such pain when they are gone.

So when you cry at one more day
Of toys spread on the floor
Think of if they weren’t there
To mess up anymore.
Think of all the precious things
You’ll miss and wish you had
You’ll see those things that irked you so
They weren’t all that bad.

Hold them closer for awhile
And stroke their silky hair
And touch them gently once for me
I wish that I were there.
For as I cry out for my son
Who cannot feel my touch
My heart cries out to tell you all
You can never love too much.

© Copyright 1997 Vickilynn Haycraft
All rights reserved
August 1, 1997
11 months after son Benjamin died

Thursday, March 10, 2005

We Struck WATER!

Our remodeling is coming along. When we have men here helping Norm, many times it's three things going at once - bathroom, bedroom, hallway, Stephen's room, etc. So, it's hard to see any one task done, but we are getting there. Most of the drywall is up in the bathroom (drop ceiling not started), and Norm got the bathroom sink/cabinet in tonight, and got the water hooked up to it, and IT WORKS! At first one of the new plumbing pieces that was in the cabinet leaked bad. Norm took it out and found a hairline crack.

Here's a picture of the start of our bathroom.

The view you are seeing is as we walk into the bathroom. Next to the sink is where a stackable washer/dryer will go, which is a gift we got for Christmas. Above the sink will be a mirrored medicine cabinet that will have to be on hinges so Norm can get at the piping there. Along the wall to the left of the cabinet will be a small shelf and mirror to hold curling iron, combs, hairdryer, etc. We are getting there. I think around the cabinet will be tiling on the wall. A friend is tiling the floors and suggested that, so we might do that as well.

We are still trying to get over this horrible respitory flu here. Jessica (8, our daughter with heart problems) has been sick the last couple of days and finally seemed a little perkier tonight and enjoyed the grilled cheese sandwiches that Norm made tonight. The three youngest are still quite congested and taking LONG naps and there is still very much a quietness around the house. If Bethany (20 months) walks around, she will for a short time, and then find me, and lay her head down on my lap or motion for me to pick her up. She has started a something the last several weeks where she has a pacifier in her mouth and holding at least one. Now it's not just finding ONE pacifier when she goes to bed, it's TWO! But, I think all started a couple weeks ago when we did a search for "plugs" to see who could find the most, and then one of the kids tied them all together and gave it to Bethany. She LOVED it! Spoiled?!?!?

Jayson went "back to work" today. The last several years Jayson and Matthew worked at a greenhouse for some friends of ours. It was generally Matthew & Jayson together. At first after Matthew died, Jayson said he could not do it. But by the time it came around, he was able. He was working with another homeschooled, Christian boy that we know quite well, and it sounds like the two of them worked together well. We are thankful for this, and the steps forward.

Today seemed to hit Norm harder with Matthew gone. Late this afternoon he brought up this toolbox from downstairs. Norm made this when he was in high school. A couple of years ago he gave it to Matthew, and Matthew thought it was so neat to have dad's old toolbox. Matthew was not really mechanically or "fix-it" inclined, but he had some tools in it, and kept this put away. It was his treasure.

Now this rusty lookin' toolbox is Norm's treasure. It brought tears to his eyes, knowing it meant something to Matthew. Tonight Norm said something again about Matthew's Chocolate Lab looking for Matthew. It seems every once and while, yet, she will go looking around for him, and then stays by Norm. She just does not seem "settled". We aren't quite yet either.

Tonight Norm received the following e-mail and it just came at the right time and touched him emensely. It was neat to see when he was having a rougher day, how God used a person we don't even know to send this to him.

Hello friend,
There are those burdens we are able to share and then those we will carry alone. What must be so difficult for you is that the one you are carrying alone is the same one you share carrying for your children.
May I say that the pursuit of understanding what has happened is an act of futility. Understanding is never the lesson of the trial but rather the resolution of your faith. It will take a real priest of his home to provide the leadership that will mold the mindsets of siblings involved. You must be one tremendous man for God to count you worthy of exemplifying this kind of faith.
You will be able to liken this experiance to the wake of a boat traveling along the shoreline. The first impact always crashes against the shore. There will continue to be other waves of greif but as time goes one each one will be a little softer and further apart. The end result will be a confession of faith that "it is well with my soul".
I have attatched a poem given to me in an hour of my grief. Perhaps it will provide something for you.

in loving kindness,

a fellow so-journer

How shall the morning bid the sound of reveille to be heard
when pangs of regrets rehearsed their lines through the watches of my night?

Could it possibly be my plight in life when motives were sincere to pay the price of recklessness that selfishly perseveres?

Can one’s loyalty be accountable to bear the shame of others, when caring is the only charge that conceivably was committed?

Dare I oppose a world beyond that I cannot understand, or feel that I could lodge protest against divine command?

There is no crimson in these veins or forces of remission that would ever stand in place for a man or his indiscretions.

Nobility is not the great reward of the fellowship of his suffering, but ugly scars like the one’s He wore then and for all time coming.

So this becomes my course of action while troubled by this burden, to know in the eternal scheme of things it is He who’s really hurting.

It is not about me at all, or requesting God’s attention, yet still blessed to have the love of God and the right of intercession.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Flu spelled backwards is ULF - that's how we feel!

Yes, we are still dealing with this flu/respitory bug. It's hit our family quite hard. Our oldest son spent most of his day in bed yesterday, and did not go to work today. All the kids have complained of bad headaches, chills, and then being real hot. Katie (3.5) woke up during a nap yesterday and held her head and cried. I can't remember the last time we have all been so sick at one time. (But it's been rather quite in the house and kids are going to bed BEFORE their bedtime without being told numerous times to GO TO BED!!)

We've had some "low key" days, mainly because of the illnesses. Katie (3.5) is our main one the last couple of days who keeps bringing up Matthew's name, and asks "when will he wake up?" She remembers seeing him at the funeral home. She does not understand. She told me today that she is taking care of Matthew's special pillow (an pillow I made with a quilted airplane on that she carries around with her, and HAS to have at bedtime) and that Matthew wants her to take care of it until he comes back. That sweet innocence.


Saturday, March 05, 2005

12 Weeks

Today was one of those up and down days, and actually we thought it was going to be more of an up day, but kind of ended sad, which is somewhat to be expected. Norm and I did hear the song "I'll Take You Back" that we shared with you in a previous post, close to 11 am when Matthew died, 12 weeks ago today. We both realized it at the same time.

We were real excited for our oldest son, Stephen, who is taking an automotive course, and took a State Certification Test for Brakes shortly after Matthew's death (but before his truck accident) and he PASSED with a high score. He had been told many ususally have to take it several times before they pass it! He will be 18 in April, so it's pretty neat that he has one passed already (out of I think 8 different certifications he can try for). He's a quiet kid with something like this, but I want to brag on him! :)

We have had some sickies here. It almost like an immediate bronchitis that hits real fast. It's virul, so antibiotics won't work - unless we get a respitory infection from it. Melody (5) started out the beginning of last week, and is still coughing a lot - almost to the point of getting sick. I came down with it Thursday - fever, chills, bad cough, etc., and spent all of Friday in bed. I cannot remember the last time I was this sick - so I guess that is good! Bethany came down with it Friday-with running a temp. Tonight it has hit Katie (3.5) and Heidi (13). So, it's going around for sure, and seems to take a while to get rid of.

Norm had a "boys afternoon out" and took them to a gun/hunting expo. The boys were thrilled and really liked it, but later Benjamin told us with tears in his eyes, how much Matthew would have loved it, because there were also coins there, and he collected coins. They did not buy any food while they were out but had Matthew gone he would have insisted on it! Norm and I were talking later tonight how we thought the children are "making it" and doing well, considering all they have gone through.

Then before Jessica (8) had to go to bed, she really fell apart, and shared many memories she has of Matthew, and then the deep pain she has of missing him. She shared everything from her birthday memories, to Disney memories, to the last Thanksgiving. She said how Matthew and Stephen were the only ones who would not tease her about missing her front teeth. She misses the "staring competions" they'd have at the table - even though sometimes it really annoyed Jessica. She told us how a man at church had picked her up and held her before her September birthday, and she told him how her older brothers do not do that anymore, and so he told the boys they HAD to do it for her birthday, and Matthew remembered, and he held her the longest. But where she really broke down was with the things Matthew won't see - like how her front teeth are totally in now, and he won't see her grow up, and how the little ones won't remember Matthew. She just sobbed. She told of a dream she had recently where Matthew came to their door and said that someone was here to visit, and she was excited to see HIM, and got up and ran to the door, but Matthew was gone. She questioned that "horrible day". She said too "it's not fair that Matthew did something dumb, and is in heaven with no pain, and we are so sad here." She said it like we have thought too. It's extra hard seeing our children go through these heartaches.

Since some have e-mailed asking, Norm did not get any responses since his two recent interviews. We are sending more resumes out, and seeing how God will direct at this time. We are thankful for how God has provided - even selling some of our "Y2K resources" - we didn't need them for Y2K - but are thankful we can use them now and/or sell some things!

So it's just taking one day at a time, going through it, and thankful we have the Lord. As a close friend use to say (who is also now in heaven) God is good all the time. All the time God is good.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Rough days - article to share . . .

Both Norm & I have had some rough days. Songs, the children, little things trigger the emotions. It's hard to go into a lot of details, but we appreciate the many notes we have received. A friend shared this article with me, and just wanted to post it here - maybe it will help some understand others that go through this deep pain we have. Though it is not from a Christian perspective, and does not share the hope we do have to see our children again in heaven, it speaks well for us. Thank you for your continued prayers.

What Is Normal?
Written by Clara Hinton Jan 27, 2003

Following a loss, well-meaning friends and family members have often said, “I wish that he/she would act normal again. It’s been so long since we’ve had any fun together. I can’t wait until the old person returns.” Unfortunately, what most people don’t understand is that life will never, ever again be the same for the parents who have lost a child. The fact is that the parents often realize early on, “I forget how to feel normal! I don’t even know what normal is anymore!”

When a child dies, no matter what the surrounding circumstances, life as was once known, is turned upside down for a while. Nothing makes much sense. The things that kept life so busy before the death of the child don’t matter anymore. Who cares if the laundry is clean? Who worries about keeping the garage neat? Why bother to think about buying groceries? Food has lost its taste, and there is no energy to cook a meal. For a long time following the death of a child, life seems void and meaningless. Friends and family members find this part of grief particularly disturbing. Others are ready to move forward in life, taking on the mundane routines of living once again. For the parent, though, life will never be viewed quite the same again.

Normal takes on a new meaning to parents who have had a child die. Things such a fine china, fancy furniture, and collectible knick-knacks don’t mean anything. It is of no interest to discuss the make and model of the car you are driving. What matters is finding some way to help you get through this time of acceptance and healing.

There is no set of rules for normal living following the loss of a child. Some people would prefer there to be a book of rules. It would make life a lot easier for everyone to have special grief guidelines to follow. Instead, we must learn to accept as normal whatever anyone chooses as his/her way of working through the particular grief of the day. We must each remember that grief is individual, and grief will touch every person just a little bit differently.

Tears. Anger. Frustration. Excessive talking. No talking. Working longer hours. All are normal ways to work through the tremendously difficult emotional swings of child loss. A parent will often think that he/she will never again resume normal living. In a sense, that is correct. Life will never again be the same because losing a child changes the way a parent views life. Grief never leaves. It becomes more gentle, but it never completely goes away.

All of this is not to say that life will never be joyful again. Joy will return, but probably in different ways than you experienced joy before the death of your child. Priorities in life will change. Small things will carry great meaning. A flower will take on the look of a miracle. The blue sky will give a feeling of renewed hope and inspiration. Somewhere deep down inside you will know that your new “normal” is a more simplistic, more abundant way of viewing life.

If you are feeling like you have forgotten what normal is since your child died, you are not alone. Every parent who has experienced child loss goes through a time of questioning. Following the questioning, though, is a renewed sense of self and a new perspective of life. Grief never leaves, and you’ll never feel like your old normal self again. But, you will feel hope and joy as you continue on in your journey of healing from the deep, life-changing grief of child loss.