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

Location: MICHIGAN, United States

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

Monday, October 31, 2005

Magazine Review: RARE JEWEL - Sept/Oct

This is my second review for this magazine, Rare Jewel Magazine. This Sept. / Oct. issue is about "The Next Great Awakening . . . can it happen here?". I found this to be a very thought provoking issue, and again another one for the coffee table and for homeschooled children to read and learn about the history of our great nation, the depravity of our nation now, and the hope for the future of our nation if we take a spiritual stand and if people allow God to heal our land.

What is meant by "Great Awakening" in this magazine is a "grand movement of the Holy Spirit - when an outburst of inspired preaching brings forth an overflow of spiritual conviction, personal piety, and social action." Another familiar term along with this is revival.

There are several articles of the history of past "awakenigns." One of the articles, The Great Awakening and the American Revolution, which happened in the 1700's. The author Kirby Anderson states "It indeed ignited a spiritual revival, but also helped unite the colonies and certainly provided the foundations for the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, and the Constitution of the United States."

Also presented in this magazine is the current national crisis and the spiritual conditions needed for another awakening. There is an excellent interview type article with Dr. Rick Scarborough, Founder and President of Vision America. He believes many Christians believe we are in the end times and have washed their hands of trying to do anything. He stands on the verse for a great awakening, in Matthew 24:14 which says "This Gospel shall be preached to every creature. Then shall the end come". As Christians we need to take stands in the government, get invovled, and most of all VOTE.

The main theme of this magazine, of the Great Awakening, is "we look back . . . and go forth." This is a magazine that every Christian family should read, and should be available in churches as well. What a wonderful gift this could also make for your pastor.

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, October 26, 2005

My Baby Boy's Birthday!

Sighhhh . . . My baby boy turned 12 today - next year joins into the teen rank. Hard to believe. One of his sisters stayed up late last night and made his cake. We gave him some gifts in the morning and he only had to do math for schoolwork today (a SPECIAL treat). We took him & Jessica out for lunch (McDonald's), and went to the Dollar Store. I think he had a fun day.

After AWANA tonight, we had to wait until our oldest got home from college and then gave him his cake. It was a red velvet cake and was very yummy!

(Our son in the background turns 16 on Saturday!!)


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Where do our readers live? HELP US! :)

We'd like to know where our readers are from. You don't have to give any personal information. We have signed up with Frappr Map, and it's pretty self-explainatory when you get there. My kids especially want to see this. When we were selling a lot of things on e-Bay we kept a map on the wall, and marked where our packages were going to. I think we sent to almost each state and numerous ones out of the country.

THANKS for your help! :)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Treasures in our Hearts

One verse I think of often when something one of the children may say that hits my heart is “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). I had one of those moments on Saturday. Our three youngest girls went to a little girl's birthday party and had so much fun. Before we went, everything was in a rush. Norm was also going to a meeting, and we were both leaving at the same time. Our van would not move. Some belt broke in it, so, we had to quickly move the girls into Norm's truck and Norm took our son's truck to the meeting. It was the first time I had driven the truck with the three girls line-up on the bench seat. The two youngest fought over who was going to sit next to mama! So, one sat next to me to the party, the other on the way home. On the way home our Katie was looking at the rings on my hands and asking me about them, and who gave them to me, and why. I told her daddy gave me both rings.

She asked me why I never take them off, and I told her it's because I am married to daddy and we both have rings on and we are married to each other and love each other and it's to show that (probably even in similar terms told). At the birthday party each of the girls got rings that open up and have lip-gloss in it. These are BIG rings! By the time we got home, Katie had used up all her lip-gloss (!!) and then gave me the ring. "Here, you wear this too, cuz I will love you forever too." Oh, my! What a treasure! I hope she will understand if I don't wear it forever that I will love her forever though! :)

This is our week for two special birthdays, and another milestone for Jessica. Benjamin will turn 12 this week, and Jayson will be 16. These are our two boys that found Matthew, so we will make it a special week for them. I can see the concern of our girls, and they keep asking for ways to earn money to get the boys "special things". My heart hurts with and for the boys, knowing though they don't say much, it's just all so different for them too. There's a void. And for Jessica, we rejoice too. On Jayson's birthday 8 years ago she had her first open heart surgery as a baby just over a year old. She went through another open heart surgery a few weeks later. All this resulted in a 10 week ICU stay. We were told she'd need surgery every 3-5 years to "replace parts." So, we rejoice that it will be 8 years that God has given her since the surgery. I mentioned in our last cardiology appointment how the cardiologist said to keep doing what we are doing. Keep praying! And pray for our boys too. I know it will be one of mixed emotions for all of us.

Why buy expensive toys?!?!? We read lots of old books and see how content the children are with things they make. These are oatmeal boxes - those boxes of individual packets. The girls make their own little "house" - the walls of oatmeal boxes and then a sheet over the top. They had so much fun. And they pushed it all down, and started over again!

And my last picture here we thought was quite adorable. Bethany took her "Sunday afternoon nap" ON the dog. She ADORES this chocolate lab (that also was Matthew's). She follows her around and can do anything to her. The dog was sleeping, and she laid down on top of her with her pacifier and was out. One of our twins did pick her up later and put her on the couch so she did not have an abrupt awakening if the dog got up, but we thought it was quite cute!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Little Brag'in

I am going to brag for a moment. I hope you don't mind! Our oldest son is taking an automotive course at our local community college. He took his first "mid-term" exam last week. He had his class today - and he got a 96% - but not just that, he got the highest grade in the class! Most of the people are quite a bit older than him. I just thought it was pretty neat.
Not too much else new here. Thankfully we seem to be all over the illnesses. Jayson & Stephen both had orthodontist appointments, mainly as a check up from their truck accident back in January which affected both of their jaws. Stephen is doing fine, and will just have to wear his brace every other day, as a maintenance type thing. Jayson's will sometimes fall out in the middle of the night, and then his jaw will lock up. So, now we have to go through the whole procedure to see if actual braces will be covered by our auto insurance. Stephen does have to get his wisdom teeth out too - they are lying sideways.
Norm and the boys have been busy getting wood for our heat for the winter. They found a huge maple tree that was already down at a construction site, and they have gotten about 4 truckloads of that. Thankfully he did get a few lawnmower and weedwacker job repairs too this week. Puppy sales have been VERY slow - non existant, right now.
I just published a new book review that I hope you will take the time to read. Thank you!



"Widow describes the loss of a spouse; orphan defines the loss of mother and father; but when bereaved parents need to tell of their suffering, no single word carries the painful message."

This is the first book I have read, that describes the personal deep grief I personally gone through in these last 10 months after the loss of our 16 year old son, Matthew. Harsh Grief Gentle Hope by Mary A. White, is her personal story of the murder of her adult, married son, while driving a taxi. Though our son died in a self-inflicted accident, the shock and horror we initially went through, was very similar.

Mary shares their journey through letting family and friends know, the shock again of an autopsy having to be done, and the mind-thoughts of thinking of that happening. She shares the blur of making the funeral and cemetary arrangements, and the overwhelmingness of family and friends continually surrounding them and how much this upheld them. This too, is a bittersweet memory for us.

What really touched me in her sharing, was the responses she received in her heart from God. This was one that did especially, at the burial of their son:

Dear God, I can't leave him here. I can't abandon him like this. He shouldn't have to stay here alone. It's so cold and lonely here. He's all by himself. Everyone is leaving. I can't leave him alone.

'My dear, he isn't alone, he's with Me. He's not here. He's happier than you could ever imagine. He is not lonely. He is not alone. He's warm, he's happy, he's alive, and he's content. He's with Me.'

I found several things so much the same in our "planning". We too had the burial before the memorial service. Another unique thing was one of the same songs was sung at both services: "Because He Lives". Though this touched "me" personally, I believe any person who has gone through the deep despair of losing a child, will find many things the same and being able to relate with the author.

The last half of the book deals with their healing and as she says is an "excruciating process. No one can predict or prescribe healing for another. Each healing is as unique as the person going through it. Each day is unpredictable. Each night brings the oblivion of troubled sleep, each awakening brings renewed pain and sorrow. Body, mind, and spirit - all are severely wounded through grief. All need healing. Each part of the human body and soul needs restoration and renewal. It takes time, a very long, painful time."

As anyone knows who has lost a loved one, which Mrs. White relates to also, is getting through the firsts. Her first holiday was Mother’s Day, two weeks after her son’s death. Our first holiday was Christmas, also, two weeks after Matthew’s death. The first birthday was very difficult (for both of us), yet she says God impressed upon her heart that she did have 30 years with him, to be thankful for. We have 16 years we are thankful for. She relates how seeing a taxi will rush back the feelings of thinking of his death. For us, it’s sirens and an ambulance. Answering the question, “How many children do you have” is one that takes a thought process. As Mrs. White learned and we have too, the answer is different according to the situation and who asks.

How do siblings relate to the loss of their sibling? This is one that we are still going through, and Mrs. White shared our hearts too when she stated: “The reality is that losing a brother or sister devastates the siblings left behind. The comfortable, familiar family structure has broken. Those remaining wonder what family life would have been like in ten or twenty or forty years. Every family gathering will always be a remind of the one who isn’t there.” She does not say, “they will get over it.”

Throughout the book, not only is she sharing her personal feelings, but what helped them get through the days, months, and years follow her son’s death. She says we cannot “practice grief” ortake lessons to prepare for it”. Mrs. White states that the period seven to twelve months after a death is generally the most difficult time. Reality sets in and shock wears off. The enormity of the loss is very real. She also says which confirmed what we have felt, is that this is the time family and friends can think that things should be back to “normal”. Because some may feel this way, she says this feeling may result in diminished sympathy, tolerance and help for your continued morning . . .The time frame may run as high as three years following a homicide or suicide [my heart says the “choking game” would fit in here because of it’s shock and self-infliction we thought at first it was suicide]. Our society doesn’t allow for this healing period. We live at a face pace and are expected to resume normal life, normal responses in a short period of time. It doesn’t happen that way. You may sustain your work schedule, but most likely your effectiveness will be reduced and your emotions put on hold while you struggle to recover.”

This book is a must for everyone. We will all face losses of some sort. We will know someone who has gone through a loss. This book will not only help a person to relate and understand their grief, but also equip them to help others in going through a loss. This book should be in your local library and church library. It would make a helpful gift for someone who has gone through a loss, and also a thoughtful idea to donate it to a library in memory of someone.

I would like to end this with a word I often use, and yet in the back of my mind, I wonder why we use the word “lost”. I often will say we lost a son. This is Mrs. White’s thoughts of God speaking to her:

". . .he isn’t lost. He’s found. He’s at home. He’s peaceful and happy, more than
you can imagine. Let your heart rest. Don’t be troubled.”


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ten Months - Update

I just read recently in an excellent book, Harsh Grief Gentle Hope, that I will review later,"Widow describes the loss of a spouse; orphan defines the loss of mother and father; but when bereaved parents need to tell of their suffering, no single word carries the painful message."

What word is there to describe for parents and siblings for their loss of a child and brother? To the average person who sees our children and asks how many children we have, or to our children, how many brothers and sisters they have, what is the answer? So, it's some of these things, that daily, we still go through, that brings back the sting of death.

We wonder how much our little children will remember Matthew. Bethany (2 1/2)recognizes his picture. For awhile she would not say his name, but I think the kids have reinforced in her mind about him, and so she picks him out and will name him in our family pictures. A week or so ago, we were grocery shopping and were in the candy aisle. Melody (5) suddenly pointed out some pumpkin marshmallow type candy and immediately remembered that Matthew had given her some of that, probably about a year ago at this time. He'd bring home from work, bags of candy that got a hole in it or was outdated. Melody broke down in the aisle, just sobbing over missing her brother. She was dearly loved by him. Katie still wants her "Matthew pillow" every night - which was a pillow I had made for Matthew when he was young with an airplane on it. I had also made him a matching quilt with airplane squares on it.

School has been going pretty well and we are getting into more of a schedule. We have had sick children off and on for the last two weeks. It seems one thing after the next, but maybe we will be healthier through the winter by getting it all overwith early!?!?!?!

Norm did not get the job at the local tool & die shop. We were both disappointed. There was another major bankruptcy of a main Michigan business, Delphi Corp., that gives work to many tool & die shops, and we know this is going to make it even tougher for this industry. It's much slower with our home business once the cool weather hits as lawns aren't being mowed, and people don't want to think of house training a puppy in snow! So, pray for us as decisions have to be made, and for God to show what direction to go again, at this time.

I got the nicest e-mail from a mom who has also gone through the loss of a son, and she took Matthew's picture and made it into a banner that can be used for a link back to Matthew's Memorial page. I love the way she did it. I had to downsize it to fit on this blog page, but if you click it it will go to the memorial page, with the full size picture of it.

This gal also has a webpage in memory of teens who have died. She has added the above banner to this. This will be another opportunity to share Matthew's life, his testimony of his personal faith in Jesus Christ, and also a warning of the choking game. By visiting this banner below, and then clicking the top link to "vote" for this banner, it will bring more hits on her webpage and in time, more viewers on Matthew's memorial webpage.

Clicking the above Teen Angels would be appreciated to bring awareness.

Thank you for your continued prayers and e-mail encouragements. It's one day at a time. I like the way the gal who has the Teens Angels website put it:

Grief is not a sign or weakness, nor a lack of faith; it is the price of love.

Yes, our grief is worth having had him, having loved him, having held him, and losing him, than not having him at all. And along with the hymn writer, Esther K. Rusthoi, we can say,

"It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus, one glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase. . ."

Friday, October 07, 2005

What is this?

What do you think this is?? No, it's not a big ball of dough or playdough! It's not a plastic bag filled with something!

Would you believe it is a mushroom?? I don't know anything about mushrooms. But it was in our woods. The kids found 3 together and this is the biggest one. They opened one of the smaller ones and it was all yellow and gooey inside. (very uky) Yes, they washed their hands very good after handling these!

We think it might be a puffball mushroom.

From what we found out it is edible, but we are hesitant with that. We did open this one, and it was a yellowish green color inside, but kind of spongy.

Anymore ideas?


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

BOOK REVIEW: Grace for the Race - Meditations for Busy Moms

This is a great book for busy moms! It may be just what you need first thing in the morning, along with your cup of coffee or tea, and your Bible. Grace for the Race - Meditations for Busy Moms, by Dena Dyer is an easy reading book of encouragements. I skimmed through the whole book in an afternoon (189 pages) but am now slowly going through it much more slowly each day or so, to glean more encouragements from it, I missed from reading through it quickly!

Each meditation (or devotional) starts with a short quote (generally one sentence) from someone like Erma Bombeck or Charles Spurgeon. Next comes about a one to two page devotional. Many times it's sharing her life experiences and/or how she may have gotten through struggle or a low point in her life. She shares about pregnancies, miscarriages, depression, children, forgiving, etc. At the end of her writing, she has "Notes from the Coach", a page or two of Scripture that relate to what she wrote about.

This book is perfect for the new mom, or a mom overwhelmed with all that she do with the busyiness as a mom. Get one for yourself - and you might want to pick one up for a friend too!

Mrs. Dena Dyer, the author, also has a webpage.

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

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

BOOK REVIEW: Bless the Lord, The 103rd Psalm

I was very awestruck when I first received this book, BLESS THE LORD, The 103rd Psalm, by Johanna Bluedorn. The beauty of this book, with quoting the 103rd Psalm in King James Version as it's text, is a book that draw you again and again in to see more meaning in these verses. This evening I read it to my children. My little girls, ages 2, 3 & 5 1/2 were drawn in very easily. Even one of my 13 year old girls was very interested in it. As we read each page, we discussed what that part of the verse meant, and how the picture correlated to it. The pictures all relate to a simple life of home, farm or town settings, somewhat old-fashioned, with great detail and beauty. There is so much in each picture, so I asked the children to look for things too.

My favorite page that personally touched me, was the portion of this verse that says: "Bless the Lord, ye His angels, that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His Word." In this picture lays a young boy asleep under two trees with his head on his dog and his Bible open on the ground. In the big beautiful trees tucked away in the leaves, hides two angels watching over him. Another page that I particularly liked was the portion of the verse: "But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children's children." The picture shows a family walking through the woods - children, with parents ahead, and grandparents ahead of them. You might want two books, to be able to frame some of the pictures!

There are twenty-seven different pictures in this book which Miss Bluedorn used beautiful watercolors and ink combinations to illustrate the 103rd Psalm. This homeschooled, self-taught young lady is also the author and illustrator of five other books: My Mommy, My Teacher; The Lord Builds the House, The Story of Mr. Pippin, and Little Bitty Baby Learns Hebrew.

Each time you open this book, you will find new things in the pictures, and new thoughts for the verses. In reading this to my children, I am sure in no time, they can have this memorized, and have visuals in their minds for the verses. As a homeschool mom, one of our verses for our conviction of homeschooling is: "Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth." (Deut. 11: 18-21) This book will help us in our training our children.

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

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Refiner's Fire (Poem)

He sat by the fire of seven-fold heat,
As He watched by the precious ore.
And closer He bent with a searching gaze
As He heated it more and more.

He knew He had ore that could stand the test
And He wanted the finest gold,
To mold as a crown for the King to wear,
Set with gems of price untold.

So He laid our gold in the burning fire,
Though we fain would have said Him, "Nay."
And He watched the dross that we had not seen,
As it melted and passed away.

And the gold grew brighter, and yet more bright
And our eyes were so dim with tears,
As we saw the fire, not the Master's hand,
And questioned with anxious fear.

Yet our gold shone out with a richer glow,
As it mirrored a Form above
That bent o'er the fire, though unseen by us
With a look of infinite love.

Can we think that it pleases His loving heart
To cause a moment of pain?
Ah, no, but He saw through the present cross
The bliss of eternal gain.

So He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure,
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat
Than was needed to make it pure!

Author Unknown (if you know the author please e-mail me)

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Walking this road . . .

We are all doing “okay”. It’s been a week of ups and downs, but overall pretty good. I think Norm & I are able to see things “together” more and seem to be at least at this time, grieving somewhat of the same way, and understand each other better. Some things just plain hurt, as we walk this road. Yesterday, Norm found some school things on his computer Matthew had worked on. It just brought back that lump for both of us. He was asked too how he is doing, if he is still “depressed” and it’s not a matter of “depression” it’s just getting through this unknown road of grieving a loss of a child. There’s no manual that can tell us what bumps we are going to run into and how far it will set us back- be it for an hour or all day. In many ways it’s a lonely road because so many just do not understand this road, are afraid to ask what we are facing on this road, and don’t want to walk this road with us, and most of all will not mention Matthew’s name. The kids feel it too – and will tell us how awful others will feel if they slip and call one of our boys, “Matthew” – like it should not be a name mentioned.

Last night four of our children, our “teenagers”, went to a friends with other homeschool teenage kids. We know the family hosting the party well. But, it was hard seeing just four of them going, and Matthew would have loved it. They sat around a bonfire and were asked to give a “highlight” of their summer. Our girls said they couldn’t think of anything to say. We understand. It was a survival summer.

Thursday I had the privilege of spending the day with a good friend, Kris, who is due in a month with her third child. This friend, was a girl I use to live with, and babysat HER and her siblings! Her mom and I were good friends. Her mom died 2 years ago. Now, Kris has become like a younger sister to me. She is 36 weeks pregnant, but is having a lot of contractions and on total bedrest, with an almost 3 year old girl and 1 ½ year old boy running around! So I brought one of my older girls to help run after them, and one of my younger girls to play with them. We had a nice time just talking and sharing. It’s a blessing for me how our friendship has developed. She has gone early with her other babies. Her last pregnancy she was actually pregnant with twins, and lost one, so this pregnancy is a little more stressful. So as you are reading this, if you can pray for Kris and the new little blessing, Caleb, I know it will encourage and strengthen them.

Norm had an interview Friday afternoon at a local tool & die. We are both totally open to God entirely leading this – be it an open or closed door. It is through a staffing agency, and he’s been told it’s only a “temporary job” with a slight possibility it going permanent. He did interview at the job site today for almost 2 hours. The good thing about it is it is less than a 10 minute drive from our home. The hard part is, it could be lots of hours, and being we have learned to live on a lot less, Norm does not want to get into something where he is away from the family so much. It’s also second shift, which is what our family is use to. The other thing is, this job is starting about the same time he took a job last year that was temporary, which was when Matthew died. Thankfully, it’s a completely different place, different direction to drive. So, I think either way it goes, we will be fine with it, though they have told him it will probably be two – three weeks before a decision is made.

Today Benjamin had a meltdown, missing his brother tremendously. As I mentioned before, this is bow hunting season. Our oldest has gotten two deer with his bow. This morning Benjamin was out practicing, and his sisters were too, with him. But, it just was not the same, and something with their "game" just did not go right, and he came in crying. In talking with him at length, he just plain misses Matthew and remembers all the times he practiced with him, and went out hunting with him. Benjamin cannot actually hunt yet, but he would go and sit quietly with Matthew. Special bonds were made with this. He told us how so many different things, he wants to turn around and see Matthew participating. He said too, he always thinks of "it" - Matthew's death - on Saturday's. Today, is Saturday. He's still a pretty crushed little boy. Our hearts broke with him this morning. Later in the afternoon Norm & the boys went out and got a new deer decoy to shoot at. The one they were using was just like a regular target on a hay bundle. So, this is something new and different that the boys & Norm can do together, but still shoot their bows. I think this will help.

I've been blessed this past week or so with a new friendship. A family came across Matthew's webpage, and also went through the same heartache we have. It's incredible (probably not the right word) of how similar our stories are. They are a Christian, homeschool family, have 6 children. Their son that died also wrote a beautiful poem shortly before he died. Matthew had written for a school assignment, "In God's Timing", which we had read at the funeral. But the similarities with wanting changes in the home, wanting everything VERY well lit, and her sharing in how they go through these past 3 years has been so helpful. The mom, Wendy, has been a great encouragement to me, and am very thankful for her honesty, and reaching out to me. I am thankful the way God leads with these "little" treasures along the way, to show He in deed cares, and does not leave us or forsake us, and show us through things like this. If you read this Wendy, THANK YOU!