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, September 24, 2005

Pray for my husband . . .

I just ask for needed prayers for my husband. As we were told by several, sometimes with men the grief hits more, later, and he has gone through several waves of this. The last couple of days, his grief has been very deep. He is a very hurting man, missing his son very much. Not many will understand a man pained like this. Not many men show their emotions or know how to reach out to another hurting man. Today was the first day of Junior Hunt Day, that kids under 18 have "their days" just for under this age, but an adult has to be with them. Norm missed it last year with Matthew, and was going to try to get out another time with him. It's one of those things - you get so busy, you plan on doing it, you put if off, and it never happens. Norm hurts greatly from that missed opportunity with him. And now he has the opportunity with another son, but he is hurting so much too. Several times in the past few days, his eyes have just welled up with tears, and I can see the pain. He's been through a lot, even in the past couple of months with misunderstandings that have hurt relationships, and not seeing the grief and pain this man carries. He just needs some compassion and understanding, for some to walk beside him and just share with him - not judge or tell him how he should or should not grieve. Like many of us in our family have felt through these last months, sometimes we need a "FRAGILE" sticker on.

I am not leaving the opportunity for comments. I just ask that you pray for him, and continued healing for our family in many ways.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

From Diapers to First Day of College

It seems funny and would never have imagined, to have one child in diapers, 7 children in between at different stages, and then our oldest off to college! Stephen (18) started his first class at our local community college yesterday, taking an automotive suspension class. He was very talkitive about it when he got home last tonight. Norm has met the teacher, who owns a local car repair place. Stephen found out today that the teacher is the top person in Michigan with ASE certification in automechanics. He seems to really like teaching and has a lot to pass on to the students. It's only 10 students in the class, several quite older because of the big layoff/closing of Electrolux here, and wanting to start a new career. I am sure Stephen will learn a lot and it's kind of exciting seeing this new phase in his and our lives.

Again, we are still trying to find that "new normal" and now getting back into another school year. We started after Labor Day. It seems good to be getting this schedule going again. It was so hard the months after Matthew died, and we did not have our whole hearts into it. Even the children seem to like the schedule more and am thankful to see them being more helpful and encouraging with each other. I am often asked, "how do you do it all?" I don't! The older ones help out with the younger ones; the children exchange certain subjects to have each other correct. The younger ones need a lot more one-on-one from me. We have also started AWANA which the kids like and give them time out and really are motived to memorize the Scripture verses.

I've had so many e-mails asking how we are doing, and it's still taking a day at a time. Some days seem so much better. Norm just said the other day how we definitely laugh more. There was not much of that the first few months. But the tears still come and the firsts are still arriving. Norm just in the last week also rearranged his whole workshop/garage area that he does his small engine repair work in. He moved everything around and is even in the process of painting the floor. There were so many reminders of Matthew working with him, and still coming across his things, and it finally came down for him to make these changes.

We are still so slowly working on "our bedroom". The girls are still all tightly squeezed in one room, but with the busyness of our two home businesses, and wanting to be outdoors more and doing gardening and canning, not much has gotten done for the remodeling. It still needs to be done, but I think too, Norm needed a break from it, as it was very overwhelming at times. I know we both wish it could just get immediately done, and have this overwith, but this too takes time. We still come across things of Matthew's and wonder what to hold on to, and what to part with. Some of it just hurts too much to keep and other things we can tuck away for awhile. The kids seem to be doing well for the most part, but then, all of a sudden, something will hit one of them. Today, Melody (5) came in with one of Matthew's red sweatshirts wrapped around her, asking why it was outside. She recognized it as his, which surprised me. Jayson actually has been wearing some of his sweatshirts to his job at a horse stable. Melody had it around her for quite a few hours today. At times we think things don't hit the younger ones as much, but then something like this surprises us.

I am still having problems with my bloodpressure, and even spent 5 hours in ER Monday night because of the pressure I was feeling on my chest. I had checked my blood pressure several times throughout the day, and at one point it was 198/88 which is way too high. So we went into our local ER and they did put us in a room right away because of how high it was. Thankfully, all the tests they did (EKG, x-rays, bloodwork) showed my heart strong and no signs of a heart attack or pending one. I did have to give in to starting on blood pressure medication. Today I saw our family doctor for follow-up and because I am having dizziness from BP medication, he's cut the dose in half, and take it at night. It definitely has lowered my BP, but hopefully the 1/2 dose will do as well.
So, we continue on this road of healing. It's not been easy and many ups and downs. But, some days we find ourselves breathing easier, and able to get on and some things seem more "normal". There's been long nights . . .and we know there still will be, but we are seeing glimpses of joy in the morning. The sunrise is coming but know there's still the varied storms to deal with and many firsts to get through yet.

This was a devotional sent to me that was an encouragement to me, from Back to the Bible: Joy in the Morning.

This song was also sent to me. I believe Selah has sung it in the past:

Trading My Sorrows
2 Corinthians 4:6-9

I'm trading my sorrows
I'm trading my shame
I'm laying them down for the joy of the Lord

I'm trading my sickness
I'm trading my pain
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

We say yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord Amen

I'm pressed but not crushed- persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I am blessed beyond the curse for His promise will endure
That His joy's gonna be my strength
Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning.

"Weeping may endure for a night
But joy comes in the morning."
Psalm 30:5b

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Some special poems . . .

Last week I shared a writing I came across regarding the writing I found for Press On. I wrote to the church that featured the article, and the author wrote back to us, after viewing Matthew's Memorial Page. He then wrote a poem after reading his story:

I know not what
My future holds-
Life or Death
His mercy unfolds.

I know not what
Future burdens I"ll bear.
I know I can't drift
Beyond His care.

I know as I age
I will bear new pain.
I know a bruised reed,
He will sustain.

I know not what day
I'll breathe my last.
I know He's waiting
For me to grasp.

May God strengthen you and your family through His deep and abiding love during these difficult times. May He use you and your family to help strengthen others, coping with similar difficulties. And may God give you peace and hope through His presence and the sufferings of His Son.

Know that I will continue to pray for you and your family

9/16/05 - Dean Robinson

Later Mr. Robinson also sent this poem to us that he has in a book he is writing:

Pain’s abyss-
Where hurt goes deep.
No hope to be found-
Only tears to weep.

In the abyss,
We are surrounded by wounds;
With no way to heal
And lost in dark rooms.

The old way is gone
In our emptiness;
And it stole our hope
And peace and rest.

Through the abyss
And through the pain
Fruit will grow—
From loss there is gain.

Mourning and grief
In its season will lead
To fruit that grows
From our mustard seed.

One foot in the old,
And one in the new,
The old is soon buried,
When the new way is due.

Old tears leave,
New hope sets in;
His truth goes deeper
Being incarnate with Him.

9/20/05 - Dean Robinson

Friday, September 16, 2005

Magazine Review: RARE JEWEL - July/August

I was immediately impressed when I received my first complementary copy of this magazine, Rare Jewel. The name, coming from the Scripture verse Proverbs 20:15 "Lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel" is full of Christian insights to help us to take strong stands and to better understand why we believe what we believe. It is a very high quality magazine, with glossy pages throughout, bright brilliant pictures that are almost worth considering framing (if you want to take your magazine apart). Portions of the articles from each issue can be read on their webpage, and are linked below.

Each magazine addresses major issues in the light of a Christian worldview. This issue, "In the Beginning" is about creation vs evolution, interviewing well-known personalities, such as Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis, who speaks on "The Church Has Not Taken A Stand on the Authority of the Word and also from Dr. Carl Wieland who is from Answers in Genesis and an article on the "Intelligent Design" of creation.

In the center of this magazine is a beautiful two page layout of pictures of God's great creations from rainbows to a butterfly. On the page is written a beautiful piece as the author observe's these creations.

On another full-page of this magazine is "The Declaration of Dependence"which is a new kind of petition to restore our nation's Christian foundations. The point of it is to show how our original Declaration of Independence was to declare independence from Great Britain but also declare our nation's dependence on God, of which the last, America has neglected. The new Declaration of Dependence mandates a reflection and a renewal of this commitment. You can read this whole Declaration of Dependence, and take a stand and sign it.

This magazine is for the whole family and one you can proudly have out on your coffee table. I would also highly recommend it for the homeschooling family. This issue for July and August would work well for those doing unit studies, and have a month or two just concentrating on all the information within the magazine, and then digging deeper. There's even some good Christian cartoons in it!

The September/October issue of Rare Jewel Magazine is about the The Next Great Awakening, which I will be reviewing soon.

NOTE: As a Mind & Media Reviewer, I was not compensated for providing this review. I received a complimentary subscription in order to review it and am thankful for this opportunity.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I was doing a search tonight for the words to the song Selah sings, "PRESS ON". Whenever my husband and I hear this songs, it brings tears, and it did again today, as we were listening to it. One of the first times we took this song to heart, was after some good friends who are missionaries to Thailand, sang it at our church as they were raising support to go. It's so hard sometimes to press on, when the burden seems so heavy, and the heart so pained.

But as I was searching for the words to this song, I came across a site from Woodland Hills Church of St. Paul, Minnesota. They have a writing on their webpage by Dean Robinson, that was so appropriate, and even MORE than I was searching for. I want to share it with you:


I love the song that goes, "In Jesus name, we press on." [see below] Tears come so easily with this song. In our journey, it is so easy for us to stop short. Our days can be filled with sorrow. Our hearts can get heavy and dreary. We long for a place to release our burdens. And even though we have heard the words, "Come unto me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest," we end up stopping short. We don't finish the race, and as a result we sit in our own misery. Our emotions speak louder than our spirit, causing us to focus on our failures rather than the victory we have in Christ.

Yes, there is a lot of darkness right now. John the Baptist said in his dark times, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." However, we cannot prepare the way of the Lord when we are stuck in our own
life's problems. Weariness is good – it reminds us that we need God. Darkness is good – his light shines brighter. Failures are good – they remind us we need a Savior. Burdens are good – they lead the way to Calvary, where they are lifted.

Though our days
Are filled with sorrow
And darkness leads
Us to tomorrow.

Though our burdens
Weigh us down
And in our hearts
Only sadness found.

There is a place
Of full release
Where all we find
Are joy and peace.

One step beyond
Our lowly shame.
One tear beyond
Our cries of pain.

We find in Him
A resting place.
A Refuge and Tower
Of His grace.

To find the joy
Of what Thou art.
To feel the love
That's in Your heart.
To sit and rest
And gaze on Thee
To fill my soul
With the beauty I see.

piece by Dean Robinson
email him about this piece at

PRESS ON - by Selah
words found on CCM Lyrics

When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
When the body is weary
When we stumble and fall

When the choices are hard
When we're battered and scarred
When we've spent our resources
When we've given our all

In Jesus' name, we press on
In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on

In Jesus' name, we press on
In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on
To press on

(c) 1983 Belwin-Mills Publishing, Inc. (ASCAP)
All rights admin. by Warner Bros. Publications, Inc. (ASCAP)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Another Birthday - Another Miracle

It's hard to believe, our 7th child, Jessica Joy, turned 9 years old today. She's a daily reminder that miracles still happen. She was are one and only homebirth, and a wonderful experience. Shortly after she was born, a doctor friend of ours came over and checked her and heard a heart murmur. Little did we know we'd be sent through a whirlwind of major heart problems, two surgeries at a little over a year of age, and 10 weeks in ICU. From first hearing she may not live a week - then a month - then, "if" we can get her to a year and so many pounds, then maybe we can try surgery. We got to 13 months (her oxygen levels at that time were around 68%). A long stay in ICU, and finally home. We were told after her surgeries, she'd need surgery every 3-5 years to "replace parts." At the end of October we will be at 8 years since her last surgery! God is good, and so thankful that HE is the Great Physician.

So, we celebrate nine years with her today.
What a

Yes, there were a few tears today. We always decorate with signs in the house after the child has gone to bed the night before. In the morning the kids all signed one of them, but there was an unintentional "space" and Jessica asked one of her siblings about it. Jessica and her decided to write Matthew's initials on that. She also later had tears, missing Matthew, and wants to save this sign in her scrapbook. But there were lots of smiles, and special time spent with her.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

9-11-01 We Still Remember - Pray for Our President

I am sure none of us will ever forget where we were when the horrendous actions of this day took place. We were getting ready to get our family pictures taken when we got a phone call to turn on the TV. We rarely have the TV on in the morning. My husband was in the shower, and I yelled to him, that New York was being attacked. It seemed too unreal. Somehow, we still went to get our family pictures take, but our action almost seemed too uncaring to put the fake smiles on our face to get a family picture. We were doing our pictures in a department store, and people were just standing around, not knowing what to do. I think of those families now, who lost their loved ones with such terror in their hearts. I am sure the visions don't leave.

Read the story of the photographer, Thomas E. Franklin, who took this picture, and the reuniting of these firemen, with the photographer and the President, 6 months after the World Trade Center attacks, and the unveiling of this US postal stamp.

Remember to pray for our president. This is an excellent video clip to remember how he is an ordinary man, with an extraordinary job.

First of all, then, I ask
that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,
for kings and for all in authority,
that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity.
This is good and pleasing to God our Savior,
who wills everyone to be saved
and to come to knowledge of the truth.
I Timothy 2:1-4

Nine Months

Nine months he grew in me,
Looking forward to what would be,
Now nine months he’s been gone
With many dark dawns.

Sixteen years of shared tears and joy
Sixteen years too short for our boy.
Little did we know how the years would fly
Little did we know how soon we’d say bye.

Now he’s sat at Jesus’ feet
And walked down the golden streets.
And though our hearts are filled with pain,
His life was certainly not in vain.

For Jesus our Savior died on a cross
So our son’s life would not be a loss.
Because he accepted Him in his heart
Now from heaven he’ll never part.

Someday at heaven’s gate we'll meet
And oh how the reunion will be so sweet
Though sixteen years seems such a short run
In heaven we’ll know, we’ve only begun.

Copyright © LVS 09-11-05

Friday, September 09, 2005

BOOK REVIEW: Letting Go of Disappointments & Painful Losses

Over the years, especially since the stillborn death of our daughter, Angela, and now the most recent death of our son, Matthew, I've read many books on grieving and getting through the death of a child. Some were just "too much", some made me have regrets, especially of the things I wish I would have made memories with with our still baby. Our church just added this book, Letting Go of Disappointments and Painful Losses, to our library, and what an encouragement it was to me. This is a very easy reading book, with tidbits of encouragements to help through a low time in your life. I am hoping that some quotes I share from this book will either help you and you'll want to get it, or you will know this is a book a hurting friend could really use.

The author, Pam Vredevelt, understands pain and loss, as she too has lost a baby and has a child with Down's Syndrome. She also shares many personal stories of others who have gone through deep pain. No doubt when she shared these words, she understands that ache within:

". . .We all have holes in our souls. But acknowledging this takes courage because we don't easily accept and embrace weakness, need, loss or suffering. For the most part, we harbor a subtle contempt for the debilities or deficiencies we perceive in ourselves and others. As a result, we end up rejecting key parts of our humanity. We gloss over our needs rather than admit them. We deny, minimize, or at least sidestep many forms of suffering. The result? We are left to struggle with our afflictions alone in the dark.

God never intended for us to suffer alone. From the very beginning of time, He has wanted people to enjoy intimate relationships with Him and others. He longs to walk arm-in-arm with us - and to provide empathetic friends to walk with us - through the sorrows and sufferings that are an inevitable part of life into his worlds. Connections matter. When we withdraw, detach, or close God and others out of our suffering, we turn away from our source of life and derail our own healing. In relationship with God and others, however, we can find the safety to let go and begin to heal...

There is a Companion awaiting your invitation. God sees. He cares. Your painful disappointments matter to Him, and He has not abandoned you in your pain. Nor is your pain an obstacle to His work in you. Your point of brokenness may very well become the place where He moves powerfully in a holy visitation. Through various sufferings I have learned that the empty places created by letting go become the place God can fill with His richest blessings..."

Mrs. Vredevelt's book is filled with many quotes, Scripture, and may give thoses pushes you need to keep you going, and to know God is still there.

When you are letting go,
remember that I am planting seeds of new life in you.
Your grief is only for a season.
My end is not death. It is always life.
I am the author of life.
Dr. Pamela Reeve, Parables of the Forest

God does not leave us comfortless,
but we have to be in dire need of comfort
to know that the truth of His promise.
It is in time of calamity . . . in days and nights
of sorrow and trouble that the presence,
the sufficiency, and the sympathy
of God grow very secure and very wonderful.
Then we find that the grace of God is sufficient
for all our needs, for every problem,
and for every difficulty, for every broken heart,
and for every human sorrow.
Peter Marshall

As Pam shares throughout the book, grieving is a process, and each person grieves differently and for different periods of time. Grief cannot be shut out. It causes more pain when it is. It can't be swept under the rug, because, when you pull that rug up, it's there.

" . . .Oftentimes our saying, Yes, Lord, simply opens the door to the grieving process. We suddenly find ourselves at the very core of our pain and sadness: the heavy emotional burden that has to be released before we can feel right again. By allowing the grief to enter through the front door of surrender, healing can slip in, quiet and unannounced, through the back door..."

I can certainly understand this. My husband and I have been quite open with each other with how we are doing emotionally going through this process since the earthly loss of our son. Just a few days ago, Norm said it was the first time in nine months he worked in the garage and did not have the stab of pain, remembering Matthew working along side him, or coming across something of his, that tore at his heart. He was able to concentrate on his repair jobs. It's a small step forward, as this is not where the best - or worst of our memories of Matthew are - but a baby step forward.

For me, I don't "look" for Matthew. Oh, those first months, I could just picture him bouncing up the stairs, looking in the fridge for food, or listening for his footsteps. I don't "look" for him at the store he use to work at. Though the pain is still so deep, and still very raw, we are getting "use" to him gone - which is almost as painful to say. Yet, when we think we have made a few steps forward, and "wham" something hits us - a memory, another holiday first, or a disappointment in someone who does not understand our grief and then it's like sliding down in that pit again, and trying to find the stability to begin to climb out, again. Mrs. Vredevelt's quote from C.S. Lewis says it well:

In grief nothing "stays put."
One keeps emerging from a phase,
but it always recurs. Round and round.
Everything repeats. Am I going in circles,
or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

This is a book I want in our home - probably an extra one too, to have available to give to a hurting friend. You can read this 116 page book from cover to cover in a few hours, and yet, go back and see the large blocked quotes and Scripture, that will bring the reminders of God's promises back. God certainly used Mrs. Vredevelt's painful life experiences and losses to help others.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Thinking of my son . . .

This was sent to me today from another mom who lost a son the same way. It's not "Scripturally" correct, but touched me greatly. I wonder often what Matthew's "new job" is in heaven, as we continue, "those remaining behind" to finishing running the race.

There is a special doorway to Heaven. A young man stands there. He surveys all that God has created, the universe and beyond. He gazes toward earth and says a simple prayer for his mother and family. Jesus calls to him and says, "Need not grieve for your family, they are well. The Father has special work for you to do and it includes those of earth whom are so special to you. You are needed here. In time they will see you again and all will be as one. This I promise."

The young man turns to Jesus and says, "I miss them and they me. My heart wishes to fly through the stars to comfort my mother." Jesus replies, "There is no love stronger than the love that was created the day of your earthly birth. That love will last for all eternity. It is a part of your mother and all who's lives you touched. A breath from your mouth she will feel on her cheek. A touch from you she will feel in her heart. Your face with a smile is forever burned into her memory. This will always be. Your words, 'I love You' she will always hear."

The young man smiles at Jesus. They walk arm in arm away from the portal of youth.

This doorway is for those whose lives were cut short for the only reason that our Lord needed them to come home early. Special duties await him, a special task that he will be better able to perform from heaven. His love for his mother is endless. As your broken heart mends you will begin to see that he never left your side. Your shadow no longer is yours, it is him. A gentle breeze that lifts your heart is him.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

God's Thoughts . . .

Katie in the sand - such a precious reminder of God's thoughts of us.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Another Family to Pray For - Another Choking Game Death

Another young Christian boy.

Teen Dies After Choking Himself To Get Rush - another, 16 year old boy, from Ohio. ". . . The biggest problem is that kids don't think it's going to happen to them and they don't grasp the consequences and they're invincible at that age," said Tricia Patton [mother]. The Pattons said their son was very friendly and easygoing. They said their faith, family and friends will help them through this ordeal. . ."

Jeff Patton Death Notice Just reading this short bit, reminds me of another boy who was a lot like Matthew.

KATRINA: "Conservative" Recommended Places to Donate to

Suggested Places to Donate to:

Thursday, September 01, 2005

God CAN Heal Our Land . . .

From WorldNet Daily:

IN KATRINA'S WAKE Hurricane hits just before homosexual event Christian activist: Act of God prevented 'Southern Decadence' festival

"Let us pray for those ravaged by this disaster. However, we must not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long," Marcavage said. "May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits, and bring us trembling before the throne of Almighty God."

Why to NOT give to the American Red Cross:
Man Fired By American Red Cross For Not Celebrating Homosexuality