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, December 31, 2005

Year's End - Mornings Joy

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light:
they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death,
upon them hath the light shined.
Isaiah 9:2

2005 was a very difficult year. We certainly did walk through a very dark shadow. I never knew such pain and void could be in our lives, or the pain I'd see through my children. I never knew everywhere I looked, there would be reminders. I never saw how much my children look alike, until this past year, when I'd see glimpses of Matthew in gestures, side facial glances, posture, or even in their voices. I never saw such grief, pain and weariness in my husband. I understand why 75% of marriages don't make it after the death of a child, and am thankful though it was the hardest year of our marriage, by God's grace, and strong servants of His, standing with us, we made it. (But don't stop praying either.)

Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

And though it was a year of such pain, I know He never left us, and He was continually carrying us along, even when we doubted and questioned - even when we wondered why and how and wanted to run away from it all. There were so many times, things happened at the right time, a phone call, a song on the radio, a card or note in the mail.

Though sometimes the pain comes rushing back, almost as the initial shock, and we still grieve over the loss of Matthew and broken dreams and understand more, that "His ways are not our ways" we know it's ok too, that we do miss him, and we won't forget him.

Can a woman forget her nursing child
And have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
Behold I have inscribed you on the palm of My hands.
Isaiah 49.14-16

"Those we love are with the Lord,
and the Lord has promised to be with us.
If they are with Him,
and He is with us,
they cannot be faraway."
Peter Marshall

We won't forget. We know there is a reason God allowed us to go through this, and sometimes it even seemed we were going through it alone. But our race here on earth is not done. We once again have had many opportunities to share Jesus, to share about the dangerous choking game, and to encourage someone else who may seem alone or going through a hard time. Matthew had a passion for souls. I've shared before how the summer before he died, when my husband and I were out, on his own, he went to the neighbors with his Bible to make sure Mr. Mike knew the Lord. Little did Mr. Mike know how many times Matthew prayed with tears in his eyes or heart, concerned about his soul - and a few months later, Mr. Mike sat at our church at Matthew's memorial service. Sometimes, I wonder if Matthew is cheering us on from heaven.

Therefore since we also are surrounded
with so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight and
the sin which so easily besets us,
and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and sat down at the right of the throne of God.
For consider Him who endured such contradiction
of sinners against Himself,
lest you be weary and faint in your minds.
You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
Hebrews 12:1-4

Yes, it's been a long night, but we see the tip of the sunrise for a new morning.

This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.
The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:21-23

Weeping may endure for a night,
but joy cometh in the morning.
Psalm 30:5

So we do not look at what we can see at this moment,
the troubles all around us,
but we look forward to the joys in heaven
which we have not yet seen.
The troubles will soon be over,
but the joys to come will last forever.
For we know that when this tent we live in now
is taken down
- when we die and leave these bodies -
we will have wonderful new bodies in heaven,
homes that will be ours for evermore,
made for us by God himself, and not by human hands.
2 Corinthians 4.18 - 5.1

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time,
are not worthy to be compared with the glory
that is to be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow,
nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away.
Revelation 21.4

I am trading my sorrow
I am trading my pain
I am laying them down for the

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

All is Calm

I am sure the "Silent Night" song has special meaning for many, but as we sang it several times over this past weekend, it had new meaning to us - to know things are calm and peaceful and there is bright hope of tomorrow. Just imagine the hearts of those when Jesus was born and what hope they were given at that time.

We had a good, peaceful, calm weekend. It wasn't without tears, but overall, it went very well, and we had very good family time together. A couple of the girls especially, just plain miss Matthew, and when it's good family time together, and though it was so nice, there's still that ache of missing him being a part of it. But we got through those tender moments.

We went to a Christmas Eve service Saturday night that was wonderful. It was just people in our church participating in various things, from Scripture reading, to singing, to sharing. One of our daughters sang with two of her friends. It was nice fellowship afterwards, but not too late, that we still all made it to church Christmas morning. Last Christmas Eve, there was not a service, but our church family came to our house, and just surrounded us and got us through that day. So, it was good to be with them again, in a different atmosphere, with much more joy. I made Sunday Christmas dinner for the family, which was so wonderfully supplied to us by the gals that came over on Friday. We exchanged a few gifts. The children had picked names, and were very excited to give to each other. Monday we went and celebrated with Norm's family, and it was a very nice, relaxing time with his brothers and sister. The girls especially loved being with their 9 girl cousins. It was neat to hear them singing and enjoying each other. The generosity of family and friends was overwhelming and just neat to see how God supplied. Our children get just as excited about "hand-me-downs" as new clothes, and I think especially the younger girls have pretty much a "new" wardrobe with several people giving us things and we were able to replace our "hand-me-downs" with newer. One of my little girls favorite toys is little Teddy Bears they got several sets of clothes for, and I actually prefer them dressing and redressing these bears than them dressing and redressing themselves! That is the challenge with 5 girls in one bedroom and trying to keep their clothes orderly!

Please continue to pray for Norm regarding either more work for small engines coming into his home business, or an outside job to open up. He did not get the job he was so hopeful for. The owner just is not sure what he wants to do as far as further business opportunities, and even if he wants to keep the machines he was having Norm work on (which were quite outdated as far as the computerized part). He was quite indecisive, which was hard for Norm, but there must be something else God has planned. So, this is still and up and down thing.

Thank you for your prayers for our family and the many notes, e-mails and cards. It was so good to hear from so many.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

My Gifts Under the Tree . .

The gifts I have been given are piled high under the tree. I do not mean material gifts like those we give to our loved ones at this time. I mean the ones God has blessed me with. I have been blessed first and foremost with His salvation, and eternity in heaven. Really, what more could or should I ask for? I have been blessed with His Word, the Bible, where in many countries many only have sections of Scripture, if at all. He has given me a loving, caring husband - the God-appointed man in my life, for the past 20 years. He has blessed me with 9 children on earth, and a daughter and son and three little ones in heaven, that makes heaven much sweeter. Our children here in our home are following God, and those old enough have made a clear profession of their faith in God. The younger ones have "child-like faith" that I am too many times lacking. We have food on the table at each meal, choices for meals, leftovers, and too many snacks available. We have overstuffed closets of clothes, and too many shoes to choose from (yet can't find a matching pair before church!!). We have piles of wood to put in the wood furnance, and a warm home. We have been blessed with a wonderful church family, a pastor that is truly a shepherd and friends that have walked this past year with us. We have "noise" in our home - from laughter, to the pitter-patter of little feet running down the hallway too early in the morning, to loud slobbery kisses with a sweet voice that says "I wuv you" and melts a heart. So, you see, I have many gifts piled beneath the tree. But I don't mean an evergreen tree, decorated with bright lights and shiny ornaments. I mean the tree that stood atop Calvary- the one stained red with the blood of the Savior who gives these gifts to me.

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Neat Day . . .

Our children knew this year it would be moreso, focusing on the birth of Jesus. Our church is having a Christmas Eve service and Christmas morning service, and we think it's really neat to be able to spend time remembering the reason we celebrate. Some churches are canceling services. Through the years, my husband & I have had a lot of discussions, especially for our children's sake of how to celebrate Christmas. and to what degree. I like what Brad wrote on his blog, The Broken Messenger, in a post, "Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday"? We had told the children, that this year would be family gifts - games - and we have given them a couple already, to help encourage family togetherness. It's been neat to see the children playing Monopoly again, which was Matthew's favorite game, and I really did not think I'd see them playing it again. But the last week, it's been out several times.

Today we were blessed with some real neat gifts by some ladies that don't even really know us, but wanted to bless our family. One of the ladies, Lynda, who lives in our area, I met after Matthew died. She had met Matthew at the store he worked at, and she too also lost a child, and knows the pain we are going through. We have talked and e-mailed throughout this past year. A few days ago she called and told me about a close friend of hers who lost her sister in the spring very unexpectedly and in her memory her friend wanted to bless another family with gifts and Lynda told her about us. Well, today, they arrived, with too much to even mention. Food, treats, and blessings of gifts that were just precious not because of "things" but because of the tremendous outpouring from the heart, to help heal a heart. It was neat too that though they did not really know our family, and though I gave them some "needed item" ideas (socks, t-shirts, etc), and not only did they give these items, they gave things the kids loved - as though the did know them! The 2 older boys got nice winter coats. One of our older girls got boots that is exactly her taste (she loves the "country" look) and we all said it - that it was as though she picked it out herself. It was just so unique. The gal whose sister die, was just so pleasant, and was certainly just as excited about the giving part, as the children were in receiving. She said how it helped her so much in getting through this first Christmas without her sister, and did not think she'd have this kind of joy this year. It touched our lives greatly. I wonder what is in the little minds of my young ones who don't quite comprehend this "stranger" coming into our home, and lavishing gifts upon them - and then leaving. Maybe it will help them understand God's love - God who sent His Son to be born to die - that we cannot understand or see - but such great love and compassion He had & has for us. What a neat example these gals were for us and our children.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My Willow Tree Angel Boy

I got this from a friend today. A friend I made after losing Matthew. A friend that also lost a son the same way we did. Her son will be gone a year the beginning of January. It just touched me greatly. Here in her grief, still getting through the first year and holidays, sent this. Little did she know that I love the Willow Tree ornaments and figurines, and don't have any, so what a neat one to start with. This little boy holds a lab puppy, and Matthew loved his Chocolate lab.

So, this is a special thank you to my friend Beth. This is just precious, like you!

Cupcake Ideas . . .

My girls and I have been noticing more the beautiful cupcakes in the grocery store, and at least for us, the "new thing" with putting a group of cupcakes together, and decorating as one piece. We started to do some searches for this. We first landed on this website, Cupcakes Take the Cake. There are some BEAUTIFUL ones (but this is not necessarily a Christian website, so this site still needs parental supervision).

From this website, there is a link to 52 Cupcakes, where the gal gives a new cupcake design each week and refers to a book, 125 Best Cupcake Recipes several times. One recipe she mentions is Malted Milk Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting, from this book. It looks wonderful.

I also found another referal to Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. Both of the books that I mentioned here I also found in our library system.

I just love the flower one above. Wouldn't that be beautiful for a wedding or baby shower, or even at a wedding, with a small wedding cake and then serving the cupcakes to the guests? I like the "ease" of it, for serving - even for birthdays. I'd like to find some cute ones for birthdays too.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The 12 Days of Homeschool

A friend sent this to me - and thought I'd share this. For those of you who homeschool, I think you will appreciate it! I've the questions below too. :)

The 12 Days of Homeschool
(Sung to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas")

On the ___ day of homeschool my neighbor said to me:

1. Can you homeschool legally?
2. Are they socialized?
3. Do you give them tests?
4. What about P.E.?
5. You are so strange!
6. I could never do this.
7. How do you do field trips?
8. Are you qualified?
9. What about graduation?
10. What about the prom?
11. Can they go to college?
12. Will they get a job?

1. Can you homeschool legally? Yes! Each state is different with their requirements. In Michigan we must do it for religious purposes but there are no other requirements. A good place to check is with Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

2. Are they socialized? This is always a funny one for me to answer. YES, they are socialized! We have several home businesses, which the children participate in. We get together with other HS families. The one neat thing with "socialization" with HS'd kids, is that they tend tsocializeze well with all ages, rather than kids just their age. Our children are not age segregated, and so learn to get along better with all ages.

3. Do you give them tests? Yes! And when we give them tests, if they do not do well, they have to go back and redo work so they do understand. We don't just keep moving them forward. And, when we start a new math book, I generally first give them tests to see where they would be in the book. So much of the math book is review at the beginning, for purposes of a "regular" school setting, when they may have forgotten a lot over the summer.

4. What about P.E.? Well, yesterday they went sledding for three hours - does that count? Our children do a lot of outside activities. Our older ones today are hauling wood to put in our basement.

5. You are so strange! Ahhhem . . . it's been said before!

6. I could never do this. I do have a lot of people say this to me, and my usual response is "If I can do it, anyone can." You fit it into your schedule. My husband worked 2nd shift for many years, and had our children been out of the home for school, he would not have seen them all week. Most kids in our area have this week off for winter break. We are still doing school, but can take other days off when we need to.

7. How do you do field trips? With our size family, we can qualify for a "large group" many times for museums, zoos, etc. But, we have gone with other homeschool families to the Grand Rapids Gypsum Mine, Meijer Gardens, Gerald R. Ford Museum, trips to various libraries, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Petra - Lost City of Stone, John Ball Zoo, Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village, etc.

8. Are you qualified? Well, I know my children better than anyone else, and I can help not just with teaching academics, but also instill upon them Godly values and morals. Most schools will not do this. What I do not know, I learn along with the children and/or get outside help/tutoring.

9. What about graduation? There are various ways of doing this. We have only graduated one so far, and he did not want a "program" as such. We gave him a party. Some HS'd children participate in a large group with a formal graduation like in a high school. We know another family who had a party, but before it, had several people speak and give their blessings on the child. Some homeschool families do a curriculum through aorganizeded group, possibly where they mail in all the school work, and then they get an actual diploma from that school. We know another family who has a certified teacher come in their home once a month, and go over all the children's papers, and then can give the children a diploma.

10. What about the prom? This is one great reason NOT to homeschool! No pressure here!

11. Can they go to college? Sure can! Our oldest had to take the preliminary tests to get in, and has done fine with getting accepted and getting state grants. Many colleges are looking for homeschooled children.

12. Will they get a job? As with a non-homeschooled student, it really depends on the person, how they apply themselves, schooling, learning what they want to do, and working with it. Our oldest son is taking automotive and welding courses and has had several jobs in this area, and working on the side for friends and neighbors. He now has an internship job locally.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Snow Day & Hot Chocolate!

This is a wonderful recipe, and the kids love it after coming in from sledding.

Gourmet Hot Chocolate Mix

  • 8 qt. Carnation powdered milk
  • 16 oz. Canister Chocolate Milk mix
  • 6 oz. Canister powdered coffee
    creamer (French Vanilla, Hazelnut, Irish Cream & our favorite is either
    "Pepperment Mocha" or "Nutmeg" both a CoffeeMate item)
  • 1/2 cup powdered

Combine all in large sealable container

For one serving measure 1/3 – 1/2 cup of mix into cup & fill with hot water or milk.

Add whip cream and/or marshmallows!

Makes 60 servings (and TONS of calories)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

100 Things About Me

I've been working on this for awhile now. I've seen this on numerous blogs, so now here's mine. :)

  1. I've been married 20+ years
  2. My husband & I eloped
  3. I’ve birthed 11 babies
  4. I always wanted a large family
  5. I have had one homebirth
  6. I’ve had 4 c-sections
  7. I prayed for my first child to be born late so he was born on my grandpa’s birthday.
  8. My first child was 10 days late, born on my grandpa’s birthday!
  9. I love hymns
  10. My very favorite music group is Karey & Kelly Nickel
  11. I’ve been a Christian since age 12
  12. I am pro-life
  13. I used to be a legal secretary
  14. I also used to work at a stock brokerage
  15. I don’t understand anything about stocks & bonds
  16. I was adopted
  17. I found my birthparents after I was married
  18. My birth dad is mostly Greek
  19. My favorite candy growing up was Candy Corn
  20. Found out it was my birth moms too
  21. I have one sister I grew up with
  22. I have 7 biological siblings, most of whom I’ve met
  23. I went to public school
  24. I always liked typing
  25. I went to a Baptist College and got a two year secretarial degree
  26. I was baptized with my sister on New Years Eve when I was 19 years old
  27. I like to knit
  28. I like to crochet
  29. I LOVE to emboss and make cards
  30. I LOVE to make bracelets
  31. I like to sew
  32. I don't have the patience with hard patterns and give up too easily
  33. I LOVE to do scrapbooking
  34. I love taking pictures
  35. I like to read
  36. I used to do a lot of cross-stitching
  37. I don’t watch much TV
  38. I’d love to go on a cruise sometime
  39. I’d love to go to Hawaii sometime
  40. I have never been out of the USA
  41. I’d love to go to Australia
  42. I didn’t get my driver’s license ‘til I was almost 20
  43. I love dogs
  44. My dad use to give the news on a radio station
  45. I grew up near Milwaukee
  46. I like the smell of beer being made in Milwaukee
  47. I don’t drink beer!
  48. I don’t like sports
  49. But I like to watch the Olympics
  50. I used to love to swim
  51. I make bread from scratch
  52. I even grind the whole wheat berries
  53. I am NOT a morning person
  54. But I could stay up all night (scrapbooking, making cards)
  55. I like to listen to a Christian radio station
  56. I love baby lambs
  57. I look forward to grandchildren
  58. I stay in touch with a friend from third grade
  59. I don’t play any musical instruments
  60. I wish I would have learned to play the piano
  61. I took one semester of piano in college
  62. I got a “D” in the class – I met my husband that semester!
  63. I used to have a licensed daycare
  64. I don’t have one favorite color
  65. But I like sage green and burgundy the most
  66. I collect “Naturewood” Pfaltzgraff stoneware
  67. I used to collect Precious Moments
  68. I sold most but kept special ones
  69. I light candles almost everyday
  70. I like using “real” silverware
  71. I don’t dye my hair
  72. I have just a few “white” hairs
  73. I usually pull them out
  74. I rarely wear make-up
  75. I love chocolate – too much
  76. Take 5” is my favorite candy bar
  77. This is why I wear plus size clothing
  78. I love 100% cotton clothes
  79. CJ Banks clothing is my favorite
  80. I like wearing denim jumpers
  81. I love to go to Good Will
  82. I like e-Bay
  83. I don’t like to cook
  84. I do like baking, sometimes
  85. Angel Food Cake is my favorite cake
  86. I make it from scratch – a dozen egg whites
  87. Now one of my daughters makes it though
  88. Mexican food is my favorite
  89. I love Greek Gyros though
  90. Olga’s Kitchen is one of my favorite restaurants
  91. But so is Don Pablos Mexican Restaurant
  92. I don’t like Italian food much
  93. I’ve had the same e-mail address for over 10 years!
  94. I’ve never had my “own” car
  95. I’d like a PT Cruiser!
  96. I don’t like balloons
  97. I do at least 4 loads of wash a day
  98. We have 2 washers and 2 dryers
  99. I like to hang wash outside
  100. I will spend eternity in heaven

If you have one of these on your blog . . . let me know! :)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What Do WE See?

From Damascus Road

As they peered with searching eyes into the manger, what did the shepherds see? I mean, what did they really see? As they looked into the crude manger, did they see in the Christ child’s intent gaze, the love and compassion that must surely have been there? Did they see the calloused feet that would walk the dusty roads of Galilee? Did they notice the strong hands that, as a carpenter, would ever so lovingly work with the wood in Joseph’s shop and that would eventually, with tender loving care, heal the sick and bring sight to the blind? Could they discern that searching, compelling look, that seeks out the hearts of all men? Were they privy to the look of pain and agony that He would one day have as He was beaten, spat upon, scorned, and then crucified? Could they detect the confident look that foretold His resurrection and eventual return to a fallen world.

From the perspective of two thousand years, we gaze into that same manger. What do we see? What do we really see? Do we see just the son of a humble carpenter? Do we, with a self-righteous cluck of our tongues, say, “ Surely, because of His lowly estate, He will live in squalor and poverty all His life and amount to nothing?” Do we see a rebel and rabble rouser destined for nothing but a horrible death? Do we see just a self-proclaimed king? Do we intone, “He must be destined for naught. Do we ask, just like His disciple Nathanael , “ What good can come out of Nazareth?” Do we say , as His detractors did, “Surely a troublemaker such as this will come to no account.” Are we perhaps a bit more optimistic and see a respected prophet? Do we intone with a condescending smirk, “Hmmm… maybe he’ll amount to something after all?” Or do we, as He intended, see the nail-scarred hands, that down thru the centuries, have reached out to a fallen world? More importantly, are we willing to grasp those hands and to take up His cross and follow Him? Do we see the love in His eyes? A love, that was so great that He willingly allowed himself to be nailed to a Roman cross and pay the price that we, so justly, deserved to pay. And finally, do we see the Creator of the universe, a risen Savior, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and soon coming King?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Thank you . . .

Thank you all for uplifting us in prayer especially over these last few days. In some ways it's a "sigh of relief" that we made it through this first year. It was a rough year. But God's grace and mercy are new every morning and am so thankful we can start out new each day despite our failures and lack of faith.

Last week our pastor came over and asked us what we wanted to do this (past) weekend. During the days following Matthew's death and Christmas Eve, people were continually in our home, just being available. They were willing to do that, or have some time of fellowship at their home, which is what we did. It was good to get away. We spent Saturday afternoon and evening at the pastor's house and quite a few families from church were there as well. The children went sledding and had a good time. Of course, there was lots of food.

Sunday was more of a "normal" day and we went to church. It was a little difficult, but ok. In the afternoon one of Norm's brothers & SIL came with their two children, and that was of great encouragement.

Today we went to Norm's Aunt Laurie's memorial service - his mom's sister. It was a very nice service, a lot of special memories of her shared, and beautiful music. Uniquely, her service was exactly a year after Matthew's service. One of the last songs was an old hymn, Day by Day, that touched both Norm & I. We just could relate to it, so I am sharing it below.

Please be in prayer regarding a job opportunity for Norm. He has been in touch with a Christian business owner that has the type of tooling machine that Norm has worked on and programmed for many years. This is a new machine in his shop, and he is not sure what he wants to do with it. It's been kind of up and down whether he will hire Norm, but Norm has now convinced him to let him come in and work on the machine and show him what can be done on it. If he is hired, it will probably be part-time to start out, which would work out good, especially through the winter months when our home businesses are slow. Norm really would like this job - but also want's God's will with it too.

Day by Day Song

Day by Day

Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best
Lovingly, it's part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and with rest.

Ev'ry day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,"
This the pledge to me He hath made.
Help me then in ev'ry tribulation
So to trust thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy Holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E'er to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
'Til I reach the blessed, promised land.

Words by Lina Berg
Music by Oscar Ahnfelt

Sunday, December 11, 2005

In Memory

Drawing by Norm's mom, a special, treasured gift for me on Mother's Day.

Stephen & Matthew - little buddies with puppies

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

CHOKING GAME UPDATE - The numbers are getting higher

I am going to keep this post as my second or third post to be able to update this, but will only keep the last month's news up, and have now on the side of the blog, a permanent box with deaths and news. Since our son died from the choking game, we feel it so important to continue to get the word out so other families do not go through the heartache we continue to go through.

12-10-05 11 year old Boy Dies - "boy was 'an average 11-year-old boy' who came from a "very stable, loving" home."

12-05-05 - Schools Warned About Choking Game - For the most part this article bothers me because it could actually give kids ideas in how/what to try for the choking game. However, there was one part, which shows the choking game death numbers even higher: "The National Association of School Nurses estimates between 500 and 1,000 young people nationwide suffer brain damage or die each year after playing the game."

11-13-05: Appleton, Wisconsin - Exposing a Deadly Game - Excellent article

11-12-05: Detroit, Michigan - The Choking Game - "In 2004, nationwide up to 500 children died from playing the choking game. That number does not include those who suffered strokes or memory loss."

11-11-05 - Ferndale, Michigan - Parents warned of dangerous 'choking' game

11-08-05 Dangerous 'Choking Game' Gaining Popularity "Brain damage, disability and in some cases even death," Dr. Lisa Miller, a pediatrician said. "It's just children who are looking for interesting way to experiment with their bodies. They're walking the fine line of life and death."

11-08-05 Teens Dying from the Choking Game - "Dee Hodges' son [Trever, 11] died six weeks ago. The sixth grader loved, fishing, soccer, spending long summer days at the sandpit, and being with his sister. . . his father wanted to go thru the pain of of telling his sons story so that even in death his son can shine a light on dark trend ..and possibly save a young persons life. 'So I just want people to know the kids and parents ..they call it the pass out game..and it's not a game.. what I seen that day is not a game at all.' "

11-04-05 'Choking Game' Becoming Deadly Fad For Adolescents - "Nationwide, about 30 kids have died from playing the deadly game . . . Coroners across the country are reversing their suicide rulings as they learn more about the choking game."

11-04-05 Special Report: The Choking Game - "While it has been around for decades, some experts say the Internet has helped it grow in popularity. Our own search uncovered a number of chatrooms featuring the subject. So, if you think your child doesn’t know about it, think again. 'I hear about it in the private schools, I hear about it in the public schools,' Sam says."

10-26-05 Mother, school try to raise awareness of 'choking game' - It again shows the importance of getting the information out on this dangerous game. I've been questioned why I write this blog - it's important kids & parents know the dangers of this game. We didn't know. But we know already families reading this blog and Matthews Memorial Page have found out their kids are aware, and by God's grace interveened to prevent another fatal accident.

10-18-05 About the choking game was on NBC's Inside Edition today.

10-17-05 Have you warned your kids yet? Choking Game Can Be Deadly For Kids

10-14-05 Kyle Kelly McCarthy - a 13 year old boy from Appleton, Wisconsin died this week suffered a brain injury while attempting to get high playing ``the choking game.''

Friday, December 09, 2005

"Journal in a Jar" Idea

I receive a e-mail newsletter from "Debt-Proof Living" (use to be called Cheapskate Living). Mary, the author, gave a neat idea for a "Journal in a Jar". This would be a neat assignment for your children to put together to give to a special friend or grandparents. As a homeschool mom, the ideas start running for the older teens to be able to write on for the coming year! Here is the newsletter, along with links to be able to do this:

The idea is to assemble in a glass canning jar (or a box) everything your recipient needs to write the story of his or her life. Possibly the most fun element of this gift is the year's worth of specific questions that will act as daily idea starters for your recipient's journal-writing, like: Why was your name chosen for you? What was happening in the world when you were born? What is your personal secret to happiness? You can include as many questions or prompts as you like, however, 365 ensure a complete journal that touches on all areas of a person's life. Once completed, you will want to add a tag or card that explains what this is and how the recipient will use it: "Recipe for Your Life History. The purpose of this gift is to help you preserve a written account of your life.

Instructions: Combine a generous slice of your life history, a dash of nostalgia, several cups of facts and feelings and (the number you come up with) deliciously interesting questions. Draw one slip of paper each day until all are gone. Paste or write the question at the top of a blank page. Fill in your answer. Enjoy the memories that celebrate something very important ... You!"

Not just a great gift idea for parents and grandparents, this is an idea for kids, too. Draw a picture of your favorite pet or animal. Draw a picture of your favorite thing todo in the summertime. Draw a picture of your favorite place to go. Draw a picture of your favorite thing to do with Grandma or Grandpa.

For an older child or teen: Tell about your favorite pet. What kind of animal is it? When did you get him/her? Tell about your hardest day at school. What is your favorite band? Adapt your questions and prompts so the result will be more detailed and the answers more complete and specific. Make it fun by including questions you know will make the person laugh because the answers are so hilarious. Add a nice blank journal with plenty of pages. Attach one or more nice pens.

To help you get going I have posted hundreds of questions/prompts for all age groups, as young as 5 and as old as 105,
at my Web site. You can copy and paste to your word processing program, then add your own unique questions. Print, cut apart and drop them into the jar or other container.

Journal in a Jar is not a gift you can make on Christmas Eve. You need to get started now. And while you're at it, make one for yourself. Your finished journal will become a legacy for your children.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

And Now She's 6!

Somehow coaxed daddy into putting a dollar into her new purse!

"Helping" make Melody's cake!

LOOK AT THE TOES! Yikes!! They painted her toes with chocolate. The dog got them clean!

Eating her cake with her subjects - siblings.

It was a good day! . . .

but after we had the younger ones tucked in bed, including our birthday girl, several mentioned how they missed Matthew and another celebration he missed (though we know in our hearts his celebration is more splendorous in heaven). Norm & I did not bring it up, but we can tell their emotions and pain are still real, and in some ways just as raw. Jessica was the one who broke down the most . . .she's afraid of forgetting special memories of Matthew, she is sad that Bethany will not remember him, certain things around the house, outside, and even at the neighbors bothers her. She hates hearing the words "911" - and hates the sounds of sirens - though over the past months we have tried to tell the kids how it bothers us all, but to pray for the people they are going to help. She told me tonight how it was the first time she counted the days after Melody's birthday - and it's "only 5 days". Several of the children said, like Norm & I are feeling, that Saturday will almost be harder, as he died on a Saturday. So, we went through a fun day, and did spoil Melody maybe a little too much, but there's still the hurdle to get through. It's painful, and in someways, lonely, because few truly understand this deep grief & pain. Norm & I try to talk about things privately & Jessica was surprised tonight when I told her we think of Matthew everyday and talk about him everyday to each other. She thought it was "just her" hurting so much. She sobbed so hard. So once again, our hearts not only hurt for the child we miss, but for the ache we cannot heal in our children. Continue to keep us and esp. our children in your prayers.

Our Princess turns 6!

Such sweet memories from her birthday last year - her big 5th birthday. She wanted a princess birthday, and we did it all! She had friends, a butterfly birthday cake, real china - even the little crown and gloves and LOTS of fun! Her name, Melody, was a God-given name, and fits her so well. God certainly planned the timing of her birth in more ways than one.

She was our first baby after our stillborn baby, Angela Hope. She did not replace Anglea, but brought such joy in our hearts - a new song, because of God's grace. And now she's on the other side - right before a difficult reminder of Matthew's homegoing, and brings us that joyful reminder of God's grace and the song that is still in our hearts. So, we wipe away these tears, and rejoice in God's goodness that is reminded so wonderfully again, with the children we are so blessed with.

Melody is a very "dramatic" child. She fits the "princess" mold - and yet, such a loveable, endearing child. So, we shall see what today brings! She asked before bed if we will have the house all decorated for her by morning! So, I need to get a few things up before getting to bed!



Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Last Week . . .

A lot of things have triggered our minds as we begin to walk through this last week before the first anniversary date of Matthew's death. I think in many ways "Saturday" seems more like the death date, then the 11th - which will be Sunday, since he died on a Saturday, and the events of the day will be forever etched in our minds. Yesterday Norm even brought up how it's hard to imagine that a year ago (yesterday) he was still alive - working, and looking forward to so many things. Today, when we walked in the church, it was all decorated for Christmas. I was not prepared for that in my mind, and it sucked away my breath. It was decorated like it was for Matthew's funeral service. The Christmas trees in the same place. We had communion today too and it made me realize, the Sunday before his death, he had communion too. The man that sang at Matthew's funeral service, sang a solo today, and it was a very touching song.

This Tuesday is Melody's 6th birthday. She is SO excited about it. I am thankful she does not relate the timing of her birthday to Matthew's death. We try to be so careful what and when we talk about things. She is one though that is very tender, and often speaks of missing Matthew and will cry. I am thankful to we have a reason to CELEBRATE this week. Our young Katie's birthday is the day before Matthew's birthday. I know these had to be God's timings, to give us the joy even in the sadness.

I've been reading another book, To Live Again, which is by Catherine Marshall. It was recommended to me, even though it is more about the author going through the loss of her husband, Peter Marshal, at a young age, and having a young aged son. It was originally written in 1957 and immediately made the New York Times bestseller list and has sold over 4 1/2 million copies. I would highly recommend this if you know of someone who has lost a spouse - or anyone close to them. She writes beautifully, and shares a lot about heaven and things to ponder on. This is one sentence, that I liked, and will end with, for today.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Author of Berenstain Bears Dies

I grew up with the Berenstain Bears Books. This was one of my favorites, The Big Honey Hunt, first written, in 1962. My children love these books, and we are just starting to read them again, with our younger children. I just read that the author, Stan Berenstain died. You can read his obituary and about him and his family. He and his wife also wrote an autobiography titled, Down A Sunny Dirt Road.

Compassionate Friends Worldwide Memorial Day Dec. 11th

Uniquely, this is on Matthew's actual date, one year after his death.

9th Worldwide Candle Lighting

In loving memory of all children who are no longer with us, The Compassionate Friends [TCF] extends an invitation for you, your family, and friends to join other bereaved families around the globe for the ninth annual Worldwide Candle Lighting.

Held annually on the second Sunday in December, The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting unites family and friends worldwide as they light candles to honour and remember children who have died. On Sunday, December 11, 2005 , hundreds of community candle lighting ceremonies will be held in parks, churches, and other public places by TCF chapters, allied organizations, and other compassionate groups. Thousands more will be held informally in homes.

As candles are lit at 7 p.m. [your] local time, bereaved families commemorate and honour their loved ones in a way that transcends all ethnic, cultural, religious, and political boundaries.

Probably the largest candle lighting in the world, the ceremony creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone. Hundreds of formal events are held and many informal candle lightings are held in homes as families gather in quiet remembrance of children, siblings and grandchildren who are no longer with them.

Since the Worldwide Candle Lighting started in 1997 it has since swelled in numbers as word has spread throughout the world of this act of remembrance. A memorial message board is available during the event at the TCF USA Web site, and hundreds of messages are received each year from countries all round the world.

Please join us this year and light a candle at 7 pm your local time