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

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dance for Jesus

Today my husband's Aunt Laurie died (his mom's sister). She was one of 12 children, and the second of the children to die. She was a remarkable woman, who suffered with Rheumatoid Arthiritis since she was a young child. She had numerous reconstructive surgeries which left her frail and in pain, much of her life, and the last years in a power chair. She was a missionary to Africa & Bolivia, and her and her husband adopted two Bolivian children. Since 1991 she & her husband have been missionaries with Missionary Tech Team, which is a non-profit organization providing various technical services to other missions and organizations so they are more effective in their outreach (such as technical expertise in engineering, construction design, landscape design, graphic design, display and brochure design, computer networking, software development, furlough vehicle leasing and web site design and development).

Laurie wrote an autobiography, Treasures in Clay Jars, which tells her life story, and shows how God can use anybody despite the challenges she has gone through.

The artist of the Precious Moments figurines, Sam Butcher, in 1998 made a figurine in honor of Laurie called, "The Good Lord Will Always Uphold You", which is a picture of an angel standing on a bench while holding a tiny puppet of a little girl. The article that came with this figurine spoke of God's faithfulness in the life of Laurie through the years of pain and disability.

The last time we saw Aunt Laurie, was July 4, 2004, at our annual family reunion. Our daughter Jessica knew about Great Aunt Laurie, and prayed for her, and we'd tell her how she even looked like her. It was special for the two of them to meet (picture above), and over the last couple of years, have sent little notes back and forth. Jessica just got her last note from Great Aunt Laurie, about a month ago. Tonight the realization of another death hit her little heart, and she was very sad. I know I will continue to "see" Aunt Laurie through her, because so many times, I will see glimpes of Aunt Laurie in Jessica. Other family members have noticed this too.

For a woman that struggled for so many years, and could not walk for the last several years, I can only imagine the reunion with Jesus and her parents. My husband's mom said today she'd often talk to her sister of "dancing with Jesus." There won't be any stumbling or staggered walk. It made me think of Chris Rice's song,

Come to Jesus

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden's lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don't be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can't contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!

Dance for Jesus Aunt Laurie!

And to Uncle Jim, Anita, and Isaac-John, and all Laurie's sisters & brothers & Norm's mom, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

We were priviledged to know her and love her.


A note from Norm's mom:

Loni & Norm

Thank You for your tribute to my dear sister, Laurie Beth. I especially look forward to seeing my Savior, Jesus Christ and bowing humbly before Him, thanking Him for shedding His precious blood to cover my sin all in obedience to God the Father. What a joyous, yet humbling thought to ponder. I once related to Laurie just how much I will enjoy seeing her body & possibly dancing together in celebration of all that God has done for us.

Love, Mom

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I Didn't Know This . . .

We get The Voice of the Martyrs magazine, which is an excellent publication, regarding the pursecution of churches throughout the world. A picture caught my eye, of a rooster weather vane on top of a church steeple. In the article it read " . . . today I learned that some courageous churches in Muslim-dominated Indonesia have a rooster on their steeple so they will remember not to deny Jesus as Peter did before the rooster crowed." I did a search on "rooster weather vanes" and found a place that sells rooster weather vanes, and gave a brief history of these rooster weather vanes which stated "According to legend, over 1,000 years ago, papal decree ordered that a symbol of the rooster be mounted on every church steeple in Christendom. The rooster was a reminder to the congregation not to deny their faith as the apostle Peter did when the cock crowed three times. By the 13th century these stationary roosters were made into mobile weathercocks. To this day the rooster weather vane is considered the most classic and popular of all." I learned too that Roman Catholic churches are no longer capped by weathervanes. Rooster weathervanes found today are generally on top of Protestant churches, both in Europe and America.
I had just picked up a beautiful little ceramic rooster at Good Will for 99 cents. It now has a new meaning. It will also be a new reminder whenever we see rooster weather vanes, and to be bold for Jesus, and even though we have "freedom of speech", we can still deny Him by things we don't say or stand up for.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Funny Sign . . .

This sign was on another blog, I Have to Say, and I got quite a chuckle out of it. Sad thing is, we could never put one of these up at our pet shop - everyone would be getting a free puppy!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanks for praying . . .

A gracious thank you for all the e-mails & cards we have received. Thank you for praying us through. When I heard this song, it seemed appropriate to share. I am sure many of you hvae already heard it. I have it on a CD by Allan Ashbury.

Somebody's Praying Me Through

Pressing over me like a big blue sky
I know someone has me on their heart tonight
That's why I know it's gonna be alright
'Cause somebody's praying me through
Somebody's praying me through
It may be my Mother, it might be my Dad
Or an old friend I've forgot I had
But whoever it is I'm so glad that
Somebody's praying me through
Somebody's praying me through
Through the tears, through the rain
Through the sorrow, through the pain
It keeps bringing me through
Over and over again
So when you're drowning in a sea of hurt
And it feels like life couldn't get any worse
There's a blessing waiting to push back the curse
'Cause somebody's praying you through
Somebody's praying you through
Someone got down on their knees and prayed for me
Somebody's, somebody's praying you through

Written by Darrell R. Brown and Ty Lacy
© 2002 Almo Music Corp/Original Bliss Music (ASCAP) administered by Universal Music Group and Ariose Music (ASCAP) administered by EMI Christian Music Publishing.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving 2005

Therefore the Jews of the rural areas, who live in the rural towns, make the fourteenth day of the month Adar a holiday for rejoicing and feasting and sending portions of food to one another.
Esther 9:19

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Thessalonians 5:18

Though this is a particularly hard day for us, with such precious memories of our last Thanksgiving, we still have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for the secure hope to know without a doubt that this life is just a short passing through, and eternity with Jesus and our loved ones are forever, when every tear will be wiped away. There will be no more good-byes, no more pain, no more illness, no more rejections, and most of all, no sin. I am thankful that my children who can understand, know and love Jesus, and have invited Him into their lives as Savior. I am thankful that Matthew has this eternal security, and though we have tears in our eyes, he sits at the feet of this Savior. Today will be a different day. But we can look back over the last 11 1/2 months, though difficult, He sustained us, and has never forsaken us. I am thankful my husband's and my marriage is making it, though it's been major work. I am thankful that our children have not turned from God nor rejected Him or allowed satan to cause their hearts to turn from Him despite the challenges of this past year. I am thankful for friends who have been "in our face" to encourage us and hold us accountable. I am thankful for memories, and to have loved than have never loved at all.

I am truly thankful for last Thanksgiving, for the precious memories we made, and this family picture I had to "threaten" for! We usually go to family's or friends, but we stayed home, and got out the good china and silverware, and made all the fixings. We told the kids to dress nice. They kept asking "who is coming over?" I pushed for the picture of all the children and yes "threatened" they would not get any food, if I could not take a picture. I am thankful the children all had to write things they were thankful for. We read them at the table last year. It was all promted by God - not me - to make such special memories. I will put Matthew's paper up as a separate entry.

I am thankful for the lives that have been saved because of Matthew's death from reading his story and no longer playing the dangerous choking game. For eternities perspective, I know "it will be worth it all when we see Jesus". Today, though a mama with a broken heart, I have 9 children around me, who help melt those broken pieces together, who make me laugh again, who show me unconditional love, and even teens that will snuggle on the couch. I have a warm house, too much food to eat, overstuffed closets of clothes, and beautiful canned food for the pantry from Stephen's deer.

Holly, who's writing I've been reading for quite some time, wrote an article on the Choosing Home Blog called, "The Perspective of Grief" after the loss of a friend's six month old son. I have so many thoughts wandering through my mind, but she shares so well, and her words so from the heart, that I would like to end with a portion of her article. But hug your children a little tighter tonight. Thank God for the memories. Ignore the dishes in the sink, and read an extra bedtime story instead. And don't forget to take lots of pictures.

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. ...For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.
Psalm 107:1 & 9

What grief, what sorrow, what heaviness surrounds us all. To watch two young parents grieve so mightily is not an easy thing. To observe as a mama wraps the blanket around her baby and tucks him in for the last time, to know the hole in her heart will never completely heal…reminds us all to make the most of the time that we DO have.

With the perspective of grief, my fussy toddler doesn’t seem quite so fussy. I rejoice in his toothy grin and exuberance, even as he makes messes for me to clean up. My eleven year old stretching toward independence doesn’t seem quite so annoying. I’m able to catch a glimpse of the man he will become. The smushed bananas, the fingerprints on the wall, the piles of shoes and laundry really don’t even come close in importance to the little people growing up in your home. To be able to still touch our children, to hold them, to love them, to simply watch them grow up is a gift, a blessing not to be taken for granted.

Oh Lord, please be especially near to those who have lost children. Please hold them close and comfort them, remind them of your precious promises of the PLACE you are preparing for those of us who love you. For those of us who have never known this grief, please help us to reach out to those who have. Help us to be able to carry the load for them when they do not have the strength. Remind us of our blessings, not our burdens.

Matthew's Thanksgiving Paper 2004

  • I am thankful for my family who loves and cares for me.
  • I am thankful for my car because most of my friends don’t even have their own.
  • I am thankful for the wonderful job and that I have Christian employers.
  • I am thankful for my salvation through Jesus Christ who died for me.
  • I am thankful for my church and church family that helps my family in time of need.
  • I am thankful for my health that I take for granted all of the time.
  • I am thankful for the Bible that gives me direction and inspiration.
  • I am thankful for good Christian friends that I can count on.
  • I am thankful for God’s forgiveness because I have a sinful nature.
  • I am thankful for food to eat when I am hungry or not.
  • I am thankful for clothes to wear and more than one pair, unlike other people.
  • I am thankful for my raise that allows me to have a little more spending money.
  • I am thankful that I get paid holidays because most full time jobs don’t even get those.
  • I am thankful for my bed that is hard to get out of in the morning.
  • I am thankful for my dog that is fun to play with and does some cool tricks.
  • I am thankful for my dad’s new job that he has been looking for for months and finely got.
  • I am thankful God has blessed me and my family much and hope I can do more for Him in the future.

  • Thanksgiving, 2004
    ©Matthew Norman Vander Stel

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Your Anchor in a Storm

I read this on the Heart After Jesus Blog, in which the writer, got this from the author's webpage. It struck me, and thought I'd share it with you.

Many times, when we fall into trials we may be tempted to ask, "Where is God?" Well, God is there even when we can't see Him.

On gray, gloomy, rainy days, high above the overcast sky, the sun continues to shine. We can't feel its warmth or see its beauty, but it still exists.

God's beauty and His love for us are real even when our circumstances are difficult. If we think "above the clouds," we can have hope knowing that God is still there.

Just as gray, gloomy, overcast skies are temporary, so are our difficulties. If you are facing a discouraging situation in your life right now, remember that God is still there and rejoice in the fact that this too shall pass.

Sometimes, things are a little more intense than just a lttle rain. Many times, there are huge storms that come into our lives. But again, these shall pass as well.

God uses these storms to produce good fruit in us. The bible says we should rejoice and "Count it all joy when we fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience so that we may be made perfect, complete, and lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4).

Stories have been told about the only thing that saved the lives of people aboard a ship in a storm was a strong anchor. But, there are also stories of those who perished when their anchor did not hold.

Luke and the Apostle Paul were aboard a ship that was tossed by a raging storm. Luke writes in Acts 27:29, about the actions of the crew, "Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, we dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight."

It is written, "The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knows them who trust Him" (Nahum 1:7).

God is a strong anchor! Those who perished when their anchor did not hold apparently had weak anchors. What, or who, are you depending on to hold you in your storm? Is it some person? Is it money? Or, is it God?

God should be your anchor because salvation can be found in no other. Jesus said, "I do not pray that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from evil" (John 17:15). This is a promise that God will be our anchor in the storm and that He will keep us in His care, but only if we let Him.

A chorus in Ray Boltz' song entitled, "The Anchor Holds," goes like this:

The anchor holds
Though the ships been battered
The anchor holds
Though the sails are torn
I have fallen on my knees
As I face life's raging seas
The anchor holds
In spite of the storm

What a great message for those who are in the midst of a storm in their life!

In times of fair weather we have comfort of knowing our anchor is there. But, in a storm, our faith will be tested and then we will be challenged to believe that our anchor is still there.

Be encouraged if things are not what you want them to be. God has a wonderful plan for your life and He may be just using a storm to work on the inside of you right now. Ask Him to hold you up, strengthen you, and help you learn what He is trying to teach you. God is faithful and "Blessed is He who endures" (James 1:12).

God clearly wants us to trust Him. So sometimes, to remember the strength of our anchor, we will need to feel the strength of the storm.

Copyright 2005 Daniel N Brown

Our Thanksgiving

We decided to have "our" Thanksgiving today, as we needed some changes from last year, knowing we cannot repeat last year, and have it the same. We have been invited to spend Thanksgiving day with some friends of ours, which helps so much to have a different day. Today our church was having their big church family dinner, and even that seemed difficult for our family to attend. Each family stands up after dinner and shares about their year, and things they are thankful for. We have SO much to be thankful for, yet, the tears for both Norm & I would be too close. Norm was the first to say, he just could not do that this year. So we opted out, and decided to have a special dinner at home.

We did not even have the traditional turkey. We had duck, which was a first for me in preparing and a first for all the children to eat. It turned out very well - it's somewhat like chicken, but was sweeter and all dark meat. I'd make it again (if it weren't so expensive) so we may add some ducks to our "farm" in the spring with the chickens. We had sweet potatoes, squash, jello, and homemade wheat bread. I didn't make a lot - nothing real fancy, but it was special. We even got nice "Thanksgiving" themed paperplates to make it easy on all of us. :)

But I think some of this of course, triggered memories from last year. One of our children broke down tonight, just missing Matthew so much. Norm & I are so careful to talk alone when we are hurting, so that the children's emotions are their own, and not passed along. But she was just remembering so much, still questions of why, sad that Bethany won't remember Matthew, etc. To see our children's heart still hurt so much even though ours do too, adds to the intensity. Another one of our children broke down last week, and said how the nights are still difficult, and he often cries himself to sleep or wakes up and cries. He misses the "fun times" at night when he'd talk with Matthew, and play games, or discuss books Matthew had read or talk about the Oddessy tapes they listen too. He just has a loneliness yet for Matthew. For my husband and I, it tears at our hearts to not be able to "fix" their broken hearts.

Norm has started working again downstairs on our bedroom that use to be the boys' room. I think he needed time away from it, and the other many distractions through the summer which I am sure helped. It still has a LONG ways to go.

We had a good day, and will get through each day, one at a time. I have much to be thankful for, despite all that has happened. I am a blessed mom.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

BOOK REVIEW: BROKENNESS - How God Redeems Pain & Suffering

This is another "God-thing" as I say, when I KNOW without a doubt, God worked out the details, so I read this book. This is a book I received from Mind & Media for free,to in turn, write a review on it. For me, the author could have inserted my name throughout it, as though it was written just for me.

Brokenness is written by Pastor Lon Solomon, and published by Red Door Press. He's been a pastor for 37 years and knows about brokenness from the personal experience of the severe illness of their daughter, Jill, whom he dedicates the book to. There are so many things I would love to write about this book, but I'd be quoting the whole book, so I will share a few things that hit me, and hope that you will want to pick up a copy for yourself.

Throughout my blog, I have shared about how I can relate to the book of Job, and how much of his yearnings for God and understanding, seem so many of our questions of our trials. Pastor Solomon shares about Job throughout this book, and gives new insights, which I appreciated. Here is one thing that Pastor Solomon spoke about of his trial that he went through:
"Don't fret. God is simply preparing you so that He can use you the way you asked Him to.
The preparation is nasty, but it's a necessary part of God's answer to our prayer. Nobody likes, wants or understands these early steps . . . here is the good news. At the end of the tunnel there is a great light - the light of spiritual power and anointing, of usefulness to God and spiritual impact for Christ on our world.

Like all of God's servant's I had to learn this lesson the hard way. I won't lie and say it was easy . . . He knew that more than anything, I wanted my life to count for Christ. Because of that, God ignored my complaints and kept going.

Almost thirteen years later, I'm still standing, thanks to God's amazing grace. During this time I've seen God answer my prayer in greater and greater measure. As I look back, I'm thankful I didn't bail out on the process. I'd never want to endure it again, but I'm honestly glad God put me through it. . . God will use your life for His glory if that's your true desire - but it will cost you something." [emphasis mine]

Throughout the book, Pastor Solomon shares how brokenness can be used for God, if we allow Him. How often do we struggle with the trials we are going through, and blame God, get angry at Him, and/or reject Him? Here are a few quotes about brokenness, and the growth from it:

". . . spiritual usefulness without spiritual brokenness is a spiritual impossibility."

" . . . the more broken we are, the more God can and will use us. Brokenness and usefulness are directly proportional."

" . . . Brokenness is not a curse. It is a blessing that every follower of Christ needs desperately. Perhaps the fact that it is so seldom spoken of in modern Christianity helps explain why our modern brand of Christianity is so insipid and powerless."

Not only does Dr. Solomon relate to his own personal struggles with his seizure stricken daughter, but brings examples from those in Scripture and in history. One of my favorite stories he related to was with D.L. Moody, who had the largest congregations in Chicago and yet, felt he did not have "power" - spiritual power and cried out for it. God allowed him to lose everything in the Great Chicago Fire. He moved to New York, surrendered himself completely to God, and as the author said, "Crazy Moody became 'Broken Moody, the Man of God' who went on to shake two continents for Jesus Christ."

Pastor Solomon shares how "asking" for brokenness, can terrify us, and what it could require of us.

"We're scared of the cost of being broken. Parents fear that it will cost them their child. Business people fear that it will cost them their careers. Some fear it will cost them their health and wealth. . . We must remember that God will never ask anything of us unless He is prepared to walk with us hand in hand. He will sustain us every step of the way. As has been said, the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God will not keep us." (similar to a poem I posted awhile ago - emphasis added, mine).

Pastor Solomon shares a lot on forgiveness too, which is many times a big part of the picture of brokenness, because God has allowed people who have hurt us, said unkind things to us, to be His instruments in working in our lives. It's when we get to the place of forgiving, and not holding grudges, that the brokenness can be fulfilled.

For people who have been Christians for a long time, and yet feel they have not done much for God, or are too old, Pastor Solomon reminds us that Moses' first 80 years of life held no lasting spiritual value. Yes, he allowed brokenness in his life, and his last 40 years showed God's power, from the opening of the Red Sea, to the Ten Commandments. Though we may not live 120 years, God still can do a mighty work in us, if we allow Him.

After each chapter, Pastor Solomon has "discussion points" which would make this a great book for a group, couple or personal Bible study. I recommend this for any Christian to read, especially if you have been struggling with trials, and hardships, and/or deep pains. I would also recommend having an extra copy to give to a friend or donating to your church library.

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

Friday, November 18, 2005

Stephen Got ANOTHER Deer!!

He says this is nothing worthing bragging about, but it's sure helpful for our family. Stephen thought it was a doe when he took a shot at it, but ended up being a button buck. It's still a pretty nice size. We are thrilled!

And here he is with his sweetest dear.

Choking Game on Oprah today

I don't normally watch Oprah, but have gotten numerous e-mails that a segment regarding the "choking game" will be on her show today. You can read about some of it here, and from that link there are several links of stories of children who have died from this.

Also, got this article that is quite long, and revealing that you might want to read through. Here are a few thoughts from it:

The game is seen as a clean, quick, drug-free high by teens . . . children with good grades, nice homes, doting parents and too little life experience to consider its dangerous side . . .

Gated communities, wealthy families and private schools might shield our kids from urban threats, but not from their own adolescent missteps . . .

For a 30-second rush, it can cause brain damage, cardiac arrest, physical injuries from falling ordeath from asphyxiation, according to doctors. Medical examiners across the country are just beginning to realize that some teenage deaths ruled suicides may actually be accidents. A conference in Los Angeles last month of the National Assn. of Medical Examiners featured a seminar suggesting that coroners have been slow to recognize the phenomenon of "asphyxial games."


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Stephen Got an 8 Pt. Buck!! :)

We are all pretty excited tonight! Stephen got an 8 pt. buck - a nice lookin' heavy one. This is his third deer he's gotten - 2nd buck. But, it's the first one with his rifle - the other two he got with his bow (the first one at age 14!)

It was our first day of snow here. He was quite cold, and up in his tree stand, and decided to call it quits. He's been hunting at a friend's who have quite a bit of acreage. He got back to his truck, and unloaded the ammunition, and was about to leave when he heard two shots from a distance. He knew it would send some deer towards him. He was parked near some big round hay bales. He put one bullet in, and waited, and three deer showed up. He took a shot - no fire. He took another shot - no fire again. He then realized he had the safety on! The two does left, but the buck stayed. He took a shot and got it right through the lungs. For the hunters who want to know more "details" it was a 30/30 rifle - Lever Action type. He shot about 75 yards, the deer ran twenty yards and dropped. There were some other hunters who were nearby that helped him load it up in his truck. (Stephen is looking over my shoulder to make sure I have these details very correct!!) He came home honkin' up the driveway. We knew right away he must've gotten a deer! Our children were all just so excited to share his excitement. He gutted it with his dad, and had a real "show and tell" after church tonight. :)

So, we will probably be busy Friday canning up lots of yummy venison. We really like it canned. It takes a lot of the wild taste away, and never have to worry about losing all our meat if the electricity goes out. It also makes for quick meals, since it's already cooked up. And canning meat is MUCH easier than veggies. I think we will have a few roasts from it and Stephen wants to make some jerky too.

I am thankful he enjoys doing this, and what a wonderful blessing to have this meat for our family.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Outdoor Bible Giveaway & more! :)

November Giveaway
My referral ID is: 111476

I don't normally do this, but I got several e-mails on this and saw it on several blogs (thank you Amy & Karen). From the Challies website it says regarding the winners for this:

Two equal prizes will be awarded based on a random drawing from all entries received. Each winner will receive a copy of The Outdoor Bible, a NASB Bible printed on 100% plastic material, which makes it a fully waterproof Bible. It can be rained on, snowed on, or fully submerged in a body of water – with no damage.
Each winner will also be able to select one from a selection of books that includes titles written by R.C. Sproul, C.J. Mahaney, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Horton and others. The complete list will provided to winners at the close of the giveaway. The first winner whose name is drawn will have first selection of available books.

Have fun!

Friday, November 11, 2005


It’s 11 months, today. The last few days have been really hard - today especially - tears are near so often. This last month as we remember where we were a year ago, is so hard. Today is the “grand sale” at the place Matthew worked at. They have a 25% off sale every year at this time and it was so packed last year. I remember watching him from afar, and saw some friends I had not seen in years, and proudly pointed out my son, working at the counter. I can’t go today. I’d probably end up sobbing in the store. Around this time last year Matthew & I had a lunch at Arby’s. I was doing a Christmas gift list. He helped me with ideas for his siblings. This is when he told me he wanted a new Bible. It was put on the list. He was buried with that Bible. Yet, I am thankful for that special lunch date, which we rarely did. God must have made the arrangements. Sometime during this coming month there had been a bad storm and on his way home from work, his car did a complete u-turn in the middle of a normally busy road. Thankfully, no one was coming the opposite direction, and he made it home safely. I knew the roads had been bad, and had been praying for him. He was quite late getting home and was very shook up. He had only been driving a few months. God spared him, and gave us several more weeks – if only I had known. Thanksgiving – I think we all dread it. Oh, we have so much to be thankful for. It's the "day". Last year we did it all different and stayed home and had our own family time and it was truly special. I am thankful for that “last” picture of all the children from that day. I can’t bring myself to taking a picture of all the children together yet. One of his close friends was working with his dad in another state, and came over that night. Little did he know it would be the last time to see Matthew. Memories that are special – memories that bring tears and still hurt - memories to be thankful for, than not having at all. At church we have a Thanksgiving dinner the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Each family after the dinner time stands with their family and shares about the year and what they are thankful for. We have so much to be thankful for. But I don’t know how we will do it. Norm says he can’t. It seems unbearable. We want to avoid so much – yet, for the other children, we can’t. It’s not all just about “Matthew”. We have nine living children, but his death has zapped so much from us. I have seen my husband age before my eyes. The spark has not come back into his eyes. The children have noticed. They worry about their daddy. The bank tellers say he looks tired. His blood pressure has been up.

I have a dear old friend that lost his wife a little over a year ago. They were truly sweethearts. They were my Sunday School teachers when I was growing up and had not seen them in 20 years and was blessed to see them and say “good-bye” to his wife, 6 weeks before she died. I stay in touch with the man. One day he told me (in his southern accent) “honey, I learned pain pills, no matter how many you take, will not kill the pain of grief”. I never imagined this older, wiser man trying pain pills, but he too was walking this road of grief. He felt the pain. It’s real. It aches through the bones.

I’ve read through the book of Job several times since Matthew’s death. It’s one place I feel I can understand so well what he is feeling. He also had 10 children. I have the pain of burying two children. He lost all his. I can’t imagine. It’s when I think of the Trimper Family I have shared about recently. Their daughter Maddie just died. Their two sons have the same disease. I can understand their deep grief, as today, they go through the funeral visitation a time mourning, yet such a blur. But they have an additional “shadow” of death with their two son’s that could also succumb to this disease. I can’t imagine. I have much to be thankful for.

On 4-23-05 I marked in my Bible Job 30:16, 17, & 28: "And now my soul is poured out within me; Days of affliction have seized me, At night it pierces my bones within me, And my gnawing pains take no rest. . . Days of affliction confront me. I go about mourning without comfort." I still understand that pain.

Job 28:17, 18Have you entered into the springs of the sea Or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? I have.

Job 6:14 - For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend; so that he does not forsake the fear of the Almighty. This shows so clearly how we do need to encourage one another, and friends are needed through these rough times from day one to many years later, especially with the loss of a child. Don't forget. I think this had been one part hard for me (& my husband), when it seems close friends & family forget where we are and that we are in such pain. It can be quite lonely. (Also see Job 19:13-22)

Job 17:11 - My days are past, my plans are torn apart, even the wishes of my heart.

Job 9:25 - HOPE - Though I say, 'I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my sad countenance and be cheerful', I am afraid of all my pains, I know that you will not acquit me.

Job 11:16 (NIV) MORE HOPE & a PROMISE - You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. God says someday our tears will be wiped away, and to think of these times "as waters gone by" - it is hard to imagine when it hurts so much now.

Job 5:11 . . . He sets on high those who are lowly, And those who mourn are lifted to safety.

Psalm 30:5 . . . weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. The night has been long.

And a verse that has been given to me many times by a close friend as a reminder:

Job 23:10 - But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

Getting to the point of being as gold for Jesus, is quite painful. We aren't giving up. But to our family and friends alike, don't give up on us either. It's really hard. We are hurting. We are not over anything. This month coming month will be hard, and we might not know what to do with any of it. It might be last minute decisions. We might change our mind a minute later. Maybe we will win some trip to Hawaii and take the whole family for ALL the holidays! But, close friend of mine whose mom died a 1 1/2 years ago said the firsts, especially the holidays, we can't run away from, but she said she cried through them. Running away sounds easier at times! Just keep praying - for peace that floods us - for our patience - for more silly things from the little ones that makes us laugh more - for "joy in the morning."

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

What YOU Can Do To Bring Awareness

Today I received a phone call from an ER doctor who works with an ER doctor friend of mine. There's been another "choking game" death in our area, about an hour away. Another young boy. Another family broken hearted and in a fog. The doctor was going to give the mom Matthew's Website address, and if she reads this, know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. My heart is heavy for you tonight.

I've had people ask what they can do to bring awareness, besides most importantly talking to their children. I received an e-mail for a support group I am in, suggesting a "letter should be sent by any adult concerned about the dangers of the choking game to any community leader (school principal, church president, sports league chairman, etc.) that has the contact information of parents. The letter alerts the community leader about the choking game and requests that the leader send an appropriate alert letter to all parents he or she has contact information for."

The e-mail I received gives a link to a copy of the e-mail on-line along with various sample letters that can be sent and an actual principal's letter. Please help out. CLICK BELOW:


A Child's Simpleness

Yesterday, with tears in her eyes, Melody (almost 6) said to one of her older sisters,

I miss Matthew,
I miss Mascott
(our dog that died a few months ago),
I miss Oreo
(our cat that died earlier too)
and my special whistle
(lost wood whistle made by older sister).

Monday, November 07, 2005

Heaven is Richer, Again

A few posts back I shared with you about the Trimper family that lives in our area. Tonight, their little girl, Maddie, passed away. This family has been on a long journey of many ups and downs.

Please keep them in your prayers. You can visit their website, and see their journal, and from their sign their guestbook.


Friday, November 04, 2005



The will of God will never take you,

Where the grace of God cannot keep you.
Where the arms of God cannot support you,
Where the riches of God cannot supply your needs,
Where the power of God cannot endow you,

The will of God will never take you,
Where the Spirit of God cannot work through you,
Where the wisdom of God cannot teach you,
Where the army of God cannot protect you,
Where the hands of God cannot mold you,

The Will of God will never take you,
Where the love of God cannot enfold you,
Where the mercies of God cannot sustain you,
Where the peace of God cannot calm your fears,
Where the authority of God cannot overrule for you,

The will of God will never take you,
Where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears,
Where the Word of God cannot feed you,
Where the mircacles of God cannot be done for you,
Where the omnipresence of God cannot find you.

by Rebekah L. Kenaston

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Pray for the Trimper Family

When we see what other families can face, our problems seem so minor. Imagine having three children, and then finding out each of your children have been tested positive for metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), a rare, fatal, genetic disease that affects just one in 100,000 people. There is no known cure.

Meet the Trimper family - Jeff & Jane & their three children, Max, Maddie & Sam. They live in our area, and I was introduced to them from our doctor friend several years ago. In October 2002 they found out their son, Max, has MLD. Their daughter, Maddie (7) is the one struggling the most at this moment, with the Epstein-Barr virus, a side-effect of her battle. She was transferred from an area Michigan hospital she had been in since the end of September to New York on October 10th, where she remains. As I write this I keep checking their journal for an update and pray she is recovering successfully from surgery. She has a tumor and her intestines are blocked. It's been very wearing on this family for the last several years as they have gone out of state several times for medical help. Now they wait anixously on Maddie. I am amazed at Jane's words when on this past Sunday she wrote:

"The whole thing would be so much easier to deal with if we knew how it would end. If we knew for certain that Maddie would be okay in a few weeks, we could remain strong. If we knew for certain that God was going to take her, we could load her with pain medicine and keep her comfortable. The problem is that no one knows what His plan for her is. After all we have seen and all we have watched, we know that no one controls what will happen except God and Maddie. No matter how often you pray or even how you pray or what you believe, the control is His. We simply trust - not because we know we will get what we want but because we know we will get what is right. It isn't easy. And that may be the biggest understatement I have ever written."

I'd like to encourage our readers to pray for this family, and especiall Maddie at this time. I know the waiting for 10 weeks at the bedside of our daughter, Jessica after her open heart surgeries was long, and we did not know whether we'd take her home, or God would take her Home. But this was one child. Yes, I know the pain of burying two children, but I don't wait in anticipation if my other children are going to die too from the same disease, (though I pray a lot when my teenagers go out in the car!) I hope that you will pray for this family. Here are some links so you can keep up to date personally.

UPDATE: 4:25 p.m from their journal - Maddie made it through surgery! PTL!

Trimper Daily Journal

Newspaper Articles:
02-07-03 The Battle of their Life
08-22-03 'I Literally Cried'
12-23-03 2003 'a good Christmas' for the Trimper family
12-24-04 Beating the Odds
12-24-04 Area family receives a miracle for Christmas
10-13-05 ‘Trust and hope’ keep family going