Wednesday, December 31, 2008


so i'm pretty much reprimanded from our children for posting the picture on the previous post, therefore - for our sanity in our home, i've removed said picture (but if you really want to see it, my arm could be twisted to send it to you via email - shhhh, we won't share that with the kids! :))

so the flu bug continues in our home. sunday i came down with it. last night greg got caught with it for real this time and today gracie has fallen. she was TOTALLY bummed due to the fact that we were going to go to the mall with her friend and then onto her friend's house for new year's eve. pretty much a disasterous holiday season. i do have to look on the bright side of things.....

- we didn't lose electricty
- greg had scheduled vacation this week - COULDN'T have done the last two days without him!
-we didn't get any sewer back-up from last weeks melt down like other people in georgetown township (just a little more water in luke's bedroom....and a few days later some more water in the utility room from someone forgetting to shut off the laundry room faucet....we won't name names....he truly was trying to help!)
-we still are getting things crossed off greg's MEGA sized to-do list
-HOPEFULLY we're on the down swing with this bug
-andrew has proven once again (as of this writing) that he has a steel gut!!
-this w/e away with greg still looks promising (pray HHHAAARRRDDD! :) we NEED this w/e away together!!!

so tomorrow night - new year's eve - won't be sooo bad. we'll be together as a family - playing games/watching movies/eating snacks/watching the ball drop.....hopefully NO BUCKETS ALLOWED!!!!!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!! may 2009 be better than the ending of 2008!!! :):)

Saturday, December 27, 2008


a picture is worth a thousand words....isn't that the saying? (*update - children wailed at seeing themselves like they were...begged me to remove it! :)) is how we are spending our Christmas vacation - with everyone carrying their own buckets around. YUP.....the flu has hit.

first there was abby.....early, early Christmas morning. then there was luke - later on Christmas day. then we had a lull...thought we were in the clear.....washed enough hands, we thought.....were getting a little too confident that we had dodged a major bullet. BOY WERE WE WRONG!!!!! saturday came....everyone feeling fine - that is until around 4pm. this time? caleb... full force - poor kid! then at 7pm - ben succummed. by 8pm - greg is now in bed~!!!!!!

UGH!!!!!!! opened up all the windows. did MAJOR cleaning today. hands are raw....pure raw from washing. kids sick of hearing "when you pass a bathroom, wash your hands 5 times - soap and water!!!" grace is having empathy sickness. "i'm scared i'm gonna get it next mom!" didn't have the heart to say, 'yup, you're probably right!" andrew has always had this uncanny ability to bypass any illnesses and lydia is incredibly cranky. we're just chasing her around with a bucket since she won't be able to give us ANY forewarning. what is "i think i'm gonna get sick, mom?" in spanish?

so christmas here????? BA HUMBUG!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


so the other day was our first official snow day. i was actually hoping for one....i'm ready for Christmas break, ready for a slower pace, no schedule, late nights, and sleeping in. i must have been feeling ill - ME wanting a snow day....WHAT WAS I THINKING???? i thought i'd give you a picture (or two) of what a snow day looks like at our house.

5:15am - awaken by an automated phone call from jps saying there is a snow day. turn off kid's
alarm clocks

6:00am - ben wakes up, needs changing and bottle

6:30am - ben STILL awake, put ben in bed with me so he doesn't wake everyone else up

7:30am - ben sawing logs, mom awake, andrew WIDE awake

8:00am - mom (tired and somewhat cranky...but determined to have a good day) up and
making monkey bread for the kids for breakfast (as ANY GOOD mom would do for
their children on a snow day.....ya right@!!!)

9:00am - everyone up, begging for a "no-chore-pajama-day"
9:30am - let the movie madness begin!!!

11:00am - pretty quiet.....too quiet.....where's lydia???? oh , lydie!!!!

11:02am - gracie cleaning up lydia's mess..

11:03am - lydia experiencing a time out!!

1:00pm - movie madness done...onto baking and playing wii

1:30pm - kids are getting antsy and cranky...TAKE IT OUTSIDE!

3:00pm - grace on the phone with her best friend planning their trip to the mall....CRAZY!!

4:00pm - witching hour has begun....but still doing still has her hair

5:00pm - snow just doesn't stop.....

1st snow day done...all in all.....a pretty good day. we'll see what the next few days hold!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


today was a hard one for me for some reason (maybe becuz i'm over WHY am i awake yet at 11:35pm?????) i was driving around picking up kids and getting to school for caleb's bball game when i kept hearing over and over in my head "honey, he's gone....honey, he's gone....honey, he's gone" oh how i wish i could just lose that memory! i'm sure another one would take it's place. i could tell tears were just under the surface for me all day....and i let them flow from the ride from my sister's house to school.....pulled over and just let it all out. it felt good in a way - not to hold it in....but in another way it just opened my heart scar just a little.

sunday night was our kid's christmas program - absolutely adorable!! when the kids were all sitting in the benches waiting to do their program i looked over at them all and suddenly it struck me....there's one less child in that group. one less seth. i looked over at seth's friend, grayden - who he'd always be by and saw a short little guy with the same color hair and the same height as seth. my heart skipped several beats wondering whether or not God was going to supply another one of His gifts to me.... He did - it was luke. of course it was luke!! he's looking SO MUCH like his older brother! what a gift and what a bittersweet moment.

at the end of the program i noticed something in our mailbox at church. i went to go and get it and didn't have a chance to look at it until we got home. it was a children's book called 'If you find a rock'. it's a beautiful book about stones.....seth stones. (he ALWAYS was looking for stones) i don't know who it was from, but they put his name in the space for "this book belongs to" along with a verse about God being our Rock. what this person didn't know was it is an amazing gift they gave us becuz one of the pictures in this precious book had a boy hanging onto a stone.....they are the EXACT hands that seth had. when i say exact....i mean the same bit off nails, the same grime under them, the same short stubby cute little fingers.....they were seth's hands. i will treasure this book for as long as i live, and when i have another day like today i just may pull this out and look at our little guy's hands and have sweet, sweet memories of our seffers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


i don't understand....i don't get this grief stuff at times. at one minute i hate that i am constantly counting 8 kids and then remembering 'nope, only 7'...and then wishing for the time i would stop doing that. that is - until it happens. it happened i think for the first time last night. i was doing some Christmas shopping and getting the kids some stocking stuffers...counted out 7 and went on to the next thing at hand. it wasn't until coming home when i realized that i didn't even blink at getting 7 things and not happened - and i fell apart at the thought of it. did i truly just forget about seth? did i forget that i have one less child to buy for? did i forget the empty whole in my heart? it happened - and i hated myself for it. i don't get it...first i want one thing, thinking that then my heart won't hurt so badly and then when i get it - i don't want it any longer and my pain is still there. i'm so confused!! what AM i suppose to be feeling!?!?! what IS the right thought process?!?!?! am i suppose to live the rest of my life feeling down and counting 8 minus 1? or do i go on and just thinking of ourselves as having 7 children?

i know of a mom who when asked after losing her child 3 years prior 'have you ever experienced joy since your child's death?' and the mom replied with 'no, i haven't'. honestly....that scared me to death! if you know me at all i think i would describe myself as a joyful person - to not be able and experience joy again after losing seth...well, that would be like a totally different person for me. i was scared at that possibility. people would say 'oh, jolynn, you'll experience joy again - it'll just be a bittersweet joy'. well, no offense to that ( i know that they were just trying to be helpful)...but i don't want bittersweet joy....i want the WHOLE package!!! (how selfish is THAT thought!). i think God has taught me something in the past year regarding joy. in my mind - joy is way up here....bittersweet joy is a couple of notches below that. i think God is teaching me that the joy that He has blessed me with is not a bittersweet joy....just a different joy - same level as the previous joy, but just different (does that make ANY sense???) it's like your love of your children - the love is not greater for one than the other, just a different kind becuz they are different kids. i think that God wants me to learn that i do have joy in my just looks different than before seth died.

my devotion this morning was on this very subject - it said "joy sometimes needs pain to give it birth. fanny crosby was a wonderful american hymn writer who lived from 1820-1915 and who wrote more than 2,000 hyms. yet she could never have written the beautiful words 'i shall see Him face to face' if not for the fact that she had never gazed upon green fields, evening sunsets, nor even the twinkle in her mother's eye. it was the loss of her own vision that helped her to gain her remarkable spiritual discernment and insight. It's comforting to know that sorrow stays only for the night and then takes its leave in the morning. and a thunderstorm is very brief when compared to a long summer day. remember, 'weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning' "

joy sometimes needs pain to give it birth....hmmmm. i guess the joy that God has given me now wouldn't have been possible if not for the fact that seth is with Him now and not with us. i didn't think anything good could have come out of losing seth...i MAY just be getting some glimpses of it now. doesn't make the pain go away - i guess i'm just trying to live with this new kind of joy. thank you, Lord...for yet another gift this Christmas.

Friday, November 28, 2008


let Christmas begin......
we started putting up the Christmas decorations including the kid's tree upstairs. this tree is one that we put all the kid's ornaments they've made throughout the years. it's a colaboration of paper/paper mache/pictures/and any other adorable ornament they've made in school. this year we let the kids take charge of it...from start to finish (with just a little help along the way..)
so i just wanted to give you a glimpse into the Christmas spirit at our home....

LUKE: that's not the part that goes first
CALEB: get outta my way, i think i know what
i'm doing!
MOM: boys.....

ANDREW: can i have this ornament for my tree?
MOM: yes

LUKE: i'm going to put the branches down now
CALEB: stop it stupid....they don't go down yet until we screw in these screws to tighten
the tree down!
MOM: boys...

ANDREW: can i have this ornament for my tree?
MOM: sure

GRACE: i don't think that works like
that...the cords have to go together in
order for the lights to go on
CALEB: no duh
LUKE: i'm going to put the branches down now
ABBY: look mom, my ornament from kindergarten!

GRACE: can i have this ornament for my tree?
MOM: sure
ANDREW: i made this one in 1st grade
LUKE: no you didn't I made that one
ANDREW: nuh huh...i made it
LUKE: did not
ANDREW: did too
MOM: boys!!!!!!.....
GRACE: my christmas tree is going to look so cool
ABBY: so is mine
CALEB: where's that one tree that light's up on the ends,mom....can i have that one?
MOM: sure
LUKE: but i wanna have one too...which one can i have
MOM: we'll find you one, bud
ANDREW can i have this ornament mom?
MOM: sure
LUKE: look i'm a professional juggler (as we watch him throw 2 ornaments up in the air and
step on a third)
MOM: pick up the broken pieces, luke!
CALEB: (putting about 16 ornaments all in the same area)
GRACE: need to separate these ones
CALEB: you do it then!
ABBY: look mom...i found seth's kindergarten ornament!

MOM: yea, look at how little he looks!
ANDREW: can i have this ornament mom
MOM: sure honey (wondering at this point WHERE he's going to put all those ornaments!)
ABBY: i want this rope thing mom (beaded strand)
LUKE: no i want it
GRACE: what are YOU gonna do with it?
MOM: merry christmas, merry, merry christmas from your favorite kmart store!
ABBY: did you just make that up?
MOM: nope, it used to be a commercial when i was growing up
LUKE: that sounds like a really old commercial
MOM: thanks, luke!
CALEB: good goin' butthead
LUKE: yea, like you know what you're talking about
CALEB: more than you
LUKE: well....
DAD: are you guys just about done so we can get this picture done? ben is getting way cranky
down here!
MOM: just about done!
GRACE: we are no where close to being done, yet dad (said in unison with mom!)

GRACE: i get lydia out of bed when we're done for the picture!
ABBY: no way...i'm gonna!
GRACE: you got her out from her nap!
ABBY: no i didn't that was yesterday!
MOM: girls!!


GRACE: we're done mom.......whadya think?
MOM: i think it's just perfect!
ABBY: so do i
LUKE: i think it's the most beautiful tree ever
ANDREW: mom, can i have this ornament for my tree
mom: sure
CALEB: not bad....for our first time!
MOM: you guys did great!
(notice abby hanging onto seth's
kindergarten ornament)

so...this is how we started our Christmas season....i hope that we're just a normal family trying to make memories with our kids. when everything and everyone had calmed down i went up to look at the tree closer and found this....i think purposefully placed...........caleb had hung his kindergarten ornament right next to seth's. took away all the "bad" of the night and just reminded me that we are all still family. through all the arguments, non-encouraging words, and always having the last word....we're all still family - whether here together on earth or apart from us in Heaven.
Merry Christmas everyone.....God's blessings

Monday, November 24, 2008


i shouldn't be awake's almost 1 am and here i am.....i hate nights like this. i hate going to bed without greg. he's at the hospital...catching a baby....and i'm here not wanting to go to bed - not wanting my mind to wander to places i don't want them to go. it's these quiet times that i dread the most....times when seth seeps in and my heart hurt comes back - in full swing.

the other day there was the most magnifiscent rainbow that i've seen in a very long time!
we got all the kids to come and see the double rainbow. we were just all looking out the window when one of the kids asked "i wonder if seth can see rainbows in Heaven?" wow....what a great question! it just proves to me that seth isn't just far from my heart....but from his brother and sister's hearts as well. it was good to hear them talk about him.
luke came home the other week with something put up inside his shirt. he came to me right away from the bus and said, "mom, can i talk to you privately?" so we went into our room and he pulls out a broken recorder (o the joys of hearing 4th grade recorder players!). it was in 2 pieces. "wow, bud, looks like ya did a number on your recorder!" "i just dropped it mom" "well, it doesn't look like it would break like that if you just dropped it....let's try the truth this time". to which tears well up in his eyes and fall quickly down his cheeks. "i was playing like it was a light saber and it flew outta my hands and broke" i told him it sounded like an accident and that it was no big deal we'd just get him another one (with of course him paying for it!!:)) i thought that was the end of it, but he just started crying harder...."you don't get it was seth's recorder!!!" oh, buddy!! he was thoroughly crushed that he broke his brother's recorder. i tried to make light of the situation and told him that seth probably wouldn't care right now. luke then said that he thought that seth probably had a new one anyway in Heaven and that it probably was "gold plated with diamonds all over it". great imagination, luke!! i said that we could just put it in seth's trunk - that seemed to suffice him......again......seth is always just under the surface.
it's strange.....there was a wonderful Christian man who served on jenison christian's school board with greg. he just passed away yesterday from cancer. all i can think about is his family first, but then strange thoughts of.....i wish i could have told steve to make sure and find seth and tell him how much we love and miss him. greg called it "Heaven's postal service". a few months ago a dear, dear sweet man from our church passed away at a wonderful age of around 93. andy and his wife alyda were in our Bible study for years with us. such an amazing couple they are. i remember the last time i spoke with andy. i told him that i thought that this would be the last i'd see him this side of Heaven. he agreed. i remember leaning up to say good bye to him and whispered in his ear "please give seth a hug from his mom" dear friend mustered all the strength he could to cup his huge soft hands around my face and whispered back "it'll be one of the first things i do when i get there".....Heaven's postal silly. i KNOW that i can just ask God to do those things, but it's just the fact of knowing in person someone that'll be seeing him soon....brings seth a little closer to my heart. boy, do i miss him so........i wish i could just give him a hug myself...............someday.
these quiet times are good and bad......good becuz it's so quiet and i can get alot done, and bad becuz i have too much "mind wandering time" on my hands. dear Lord, give seth a hug for me...and tell him i love him....

Monday, November 17, 2008


yesterday we baptized lydia into our family of God. what a day. you know, i think that since seth died - days like yesterday are more precious to me.....sweeter.....and yet at the same time - bittersweet. will i ever be able to sit in that front bench at church and NOT think of the day we had to say goodbye? yesterday was such a special why do i have to 'ruin' it in my mind by thinking of the one that's no longer here? caleb, grace, abby, luke, and andrew sang 'welcome to the family' to lydia. caleb was able to hold lydie - they all did such a great job....we were SO proud of them! and then there were the few moments when i thought to myself....there's one missing - another gaping big hole. why do i have to that? we have been blessed so dearly with 7 healthy, wonderful (most of the time! :)) children....when will i be able to see those 7 and not the one missing?

don't get me wasn't a terrible day, actually it was a great day - it's just those few times when seth seeps into my mind when i get sad....when i miss him more than usual. i wish that i could think of him and be happy rather than sad. maybe time will give that to me someday. until then....i will cherish the one while enjoying the 7.

i wish i knew how to download the video from yesterday when the kids were singing to lydia. it was so precious. we gave caleb a pocketful of fruit snacks to give her if she got antsy.....i think he may have gone through the entire pocket! :) while she was being baptized abby had snuck up some fruit snacks with her (probably more for herself than for anyone else!!! :)).....thankfully!!! lydia got just a little antsy and so abby started giving her them....until she turned around and mouthed "i only got one left!!!" to which i then saw abby giving lydia little BITS of fruit was so sweet!!
we were so proud of them....proud of the family we now have. is it right to be proud at times like that? i'm not sure. all i know is that yesterday was one of those days that, like mary, i will ponder and treasure them in my heart welcome to the family lydia.....welcome home!

Monday, November 10, 2008


brotherly love is alive and well in our home......NOT!!! luke and andrew tend to "push each other's buttons" frequently, but last night it hit a new level. i had to stay at home last night from church becuz ben was extremely cranky and teething, so luke, andrew, lydia, ben and i were here. luke and andrew had started playing connect 4 when it hit........'brotherly love' at it's best.

competition between those two is always high, but when playing connect 4.....we need to be around in the nearby vacinity otherwise bad, bad things happen. this time was no exception. andrew has a tendency to either cheat horribly, or take FOREVER taking his turn when he knows he's going down....which irritates luke to NO END!! this time.....andrew took forever. he couldn't move anywhere without having luke win - and that didn't set well with andrew AT ALL. (there have been times where andrew will push the lever over just to make the checkers fall before he has to cave in and lose!!!) well....andrew finally made his move - he chucked 2 checkers at luke's head and started yelling at him and if you know luke - he didn't take that sitting down. in fact after the first few checkers thrown at him, luke dove over the game and started tackling him rubbing his head into the carpet. legs were flying....arms were pinched....faces were slapped.....and i was just in the kitchen!! after getting them off each other i sent them both to their rooms to cool off.

it was about 20 minutes later that i let them outta their 'respective corners'. luke came out first and i told him that the only way that they both were going to be let out was to apologize to each other. to which i received a very angry "BUT I DIDN'T START IT!!!!!".........back to his room. meanwhile i could hear andrew coming out of his room and start sitting on the steps. he was quite amazed when he heard his mom call up to him "andrew back in your room until i call you!" andrew called back "how'd you know i was on the steps!?!?!?" i replied............"mom's know EVERYTHING!!!"

before i finally let them out i told both of them that they'd have to apologize. here's andrew sitting on the steps "come here, luke....i'll apologize first!!! come here, i want outta here!!! get over here!!!!" meanwhile luke is just going as slow as humanly possible up the stairs - just to get andrew's goat. brotherly love.....alive and well!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


today finally came. it's done. all over. our year of firsts is finished. and can i say......thank you, Lord for this year. i NEVER thought that i could get to this side of losing a child and say thank you.....thank you, Lord for getting us through it. thank you all for praying us through this past year. we especially felt them today. i awoke with a peace that washed through the secret parts of me.....a peace that passed understanding. i think that our "tidal wave of grief" came over us this passed weekend and we're just now re-surfacing and seeing the sun shine again.

a dear friend of mine emailed me last week encouraging me to see myself as moses. remember the story.....moses needed to keep his arms raised in order for the israelites to win the battle and he began to get very tired, exhausted, and i'm sure....wanting to give up. then along came his family and friends telling him that they'd hold his arms up for him when he couldn't any longer. you all have been that to us - holding our arms up....encouraging us to keep going - and for that we will be eternally grateful. it's such a beautiful picture of people loving people enough to go through a storm with each other....just to help them get through. we've heard many of you tell us that you mourn with us for seth. you miss seth just as we do. you laugh at the memories you have of him. i'm not sure if any of you will EVER understand what it means to us when you tell us's like you are trying to keep him alive as much as we are....again, eternally grateful.

i know how awkward it is at times for you all when you see me, greg, or the kids....'do we ask them how they're doing?' 'maybe it'll just be too hard for them to hear seth's name' ' we don't want to say anything wrong'. we understand those feelings and worries....we've been there too. please, let me just say....i LOVE hearing seth's name. i LOVE hearing that you still think about him. i LOVE when you say that you're still thinking and praying for us. like abby just told me yesterday "mom, i don't mind them bringing up seth...sometimes i'm going to be sad and sometimes i'm going to be ok." out of a 10 year old's mouth! so please, never stop reminding us how much you're missing our boy.....because we're all in the same boat on that storm.

greg shared with me his devotion that he had the other was just for us, as if God was speaking directly to our hurting hearts. "Why shouldn't we go through heartbreaks? through those doorways God is opening up ways of fellowship with His Son. (fellowship with Jesus!!! - i am so honored to be in His presence!) Most of us fall and collapse at the first grip of pain; we sit down on the threshold of God's purpose and die away of self-pity, and all so called Christian sympathy will aid us to our death bed. But God will not. (i LOVE the next sentence - absolutely BEAUTIFUL!) He comes with the grip of the pierced hand of His Son, and says - "enter into fellowship with Me; arise and shine (like the stars in the Heavens!!!) If through a broken heart God can bring His purposes to pass in the world, then thank Him for breaking your heart." arise and shine, people!!! :) like the stars of the heavens! WOW!! how cool was that!!

God is so very close to us....if we just let Him in. if we just go to Him - He wants to fellowship with ME! WOW! THAT is how i can say today, on this first heaven birthday of our son.....thank you, Lord. thank you for letting us rest in Your arms. thank you for holding us so close and telling us that we WILL get through this. peace. one that passes ALL understanding.

today was a good day. greg stayed home, kids all decided to go to school (even andrew!:)). we dropped off lydie and ben to marcy's house (thank you!!! thank you!!! thank you!!!) and we went out to breakfast (of course, the only place a crc couple go to - russ') and sat for hours talking. just us. no interruptions. just me and my hero. we then left and did our civic duty and voted. and then went to the cemetary. can i suggest to anyone the most beautiful place in the fall is georgetown's cemetary. absolutely breathtaking. it was such a gorgeous day - thank you, Lord for that! we sat at seth's stone and talked about bringing him home from russia, about how he could WHINE - oh, how that child could WHINE!. we talked about what we miss most about him, about how each of the kids are doing, and how amazing God has helped us through this year.
then i got to go get some pampering. greg had scheduled a facial and pedicure for me and my dear, dear friend. i was so pampered (anyone wanting/needing to get pampered - MGB in grandville is THE place to do it!!) i felt so relaxed. it was wonderful. we then picked up the kids from school and took them to ihop - yes, ihop. it was one of seth's favorite restaurants. half way through the meal we realized that we should have ordered a platter full of sausages!!! seth LOVED, LOVED, LOVED was quite strange - he even wrote about them!!! boys!
we were going to take the ones who wanted to go to the cemetary there, but we ran out of sunlight, so we'll do that tomorrow. all in all ..... a very sweet, tender day.
last year at this time, when we had to finally say goodbye to seth, the wonderful nurses in the PICU gave us our 'seth bracelets'. one for each of us. we all wore them. wore them until they wore out - and then we restrung them again and again. so for today and greg's bday (on thursday - say happy bday if you see him!! :)) i got us both more permanent matching seth bracelets (picture uptop again - UGH!!!) when we got home i went and cut off my other seth bracelet. i kissed it 3 times like i always do (i would ask seth for a kiss, he'd give me one. i'd ask for another one, he'd reluctantly give me one. and then i'd ask for a 3rd to which i'd get a 'muuuuuummmmm', but he'd always comply. i'd tell him that i had to get 3 kisses from him to make up for the first 5 years when i didn't have him!). so i kissed my seth bracelet 3 times and then cut it off. it was HUGE for me. it sounds so strange....for pete's sake it's just a bracelet! but it felt as if i was looking ahead to a new chapter. never giving up on the previous ones... NEVER, EVER forgetting them, just going ahead with the new ones. it felt good. it felt as if God was telling me....he's still alive, he's just with Me for now. so happy heaven birthday, seffers....i can't wait to see you blow out your candles - TOGETHER someday.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


oh when will this day end? it was a hard, difficult day. going to church this morning was terribly hard. we had flowers in front in honor of seth's "first Heaven bday"..... i didn't see anything but those flowers from a year ago. so many beautiful flowers. we were so overwhelmed by the outpouring of love. we were overwhelmed today as well. it's hard for me to stop my mind from doing the "this time last year game". this time last year we were being told that seth was in a car accident, being brought into this little room with a chaplain running to be by our side, being told by a friend of greg's (another physician who graciously went with seth in the ambulance to evaluate him) all of seth's injuries. i remember greg kneeling in front of me saying "honey, he's gone". i remember being so very confused that right after that they ushered us back to see seth and them telling us to talk to him that he may hear us. i remember thinking that seth was always so horribly terrified he must have been (looking back....he was already Home at that point - no fear any more)

i remember our parents and family and friends coming to the hospital to be by our side while we waited for seth's body to finally stop. i remember stroking seth's hands and kissing them over and over and smelling them thinking that i want to never forget that smell. i remember seeing his dirty little fingers and thinking 'oh i just want them to move, please move them buddy, tell me you're still here with us!' i remember singing to him and others singing with us. i remember how wonderful the nurses were to us that night. i remember it being daylight savings time and thinking that i have to endure one extra hour of waiting to say good-bye. and then greg's brother telling me that we had one more hour to spend with seth.
i remember talking with the gift of life guy. him taking us back to another little room. sitting there talking over how we could possibly help someone else and thinking that some family somewhere was on the verge of getting 'their call'. i remember him asking to 'give him 24 more hours so that they could harvest more organs and greg and i saying that we just couldn't do another day....we needed to get to the kids and tell them that seth was gone. i remember going back to the room to tell our family our decision to try and harvest at least his kidneys and eyes. oh how i wanted his eyes to continue on.....he had THE most beautiful eyes - they truly were windows to his soul. i remember after telling everyone we asked to have a circle prayer. people prayed and i remember thinking during the entire prayer....this can't be happening - he's going to be alright, he's going to sit up and jokingly tell us 'haha - i tricked you all!' i remember thinking that we need to know that we could glorify God even in the midst of our worst nightmare. i remember singing the doxology after that prayer.... 'praise God from whom all blessings flow....praise Him all creatures here below....praise Him above the Heavenly host...praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost' . i pray that we WERE able to glorify Him.
i remember saying goodbye. through sobs and tears telling seffers goodbye. our pastors and wife had come with us and one of them did the MOST beautiful thing for our boy. we all prayed and then they laid their hands on seth's head and blessed him....i don't know why it touched me so, but it was the most beautiful thing they could have done at that moment. i remember leaving seth's room and going to the waiting room and collapsing into a chair. it was so surreal...i could hear everyone around me, but i wasn't there....i was numb. i left in a wheelchair. i remember getting to the van and looking back at the door just as someone was entering the hospital with 2 white containers and someone shouting out 'we're bringing in the two kidney pods!' and thinking they were for seth....our boy....our little seffers. i was numb.

i remember sleeping all the way to allendale where the kids were at mom and dad's and that as soon as we hit the driveway i was given the strength that could only have been from God Himself. i remember abby meeting me at the door to the van asking with terror filled eyes 'mom, did seth die' and me saying that we needed to go and have our family meeting inside with everyone. we were surrounded by our family....we needed to have them there just in case the kids needed more help than we could offer. i remember greg and i and the kids sitting in a circle on the floor and me telling them that seth WAS in a car accident and that he broke both his legs, his arm, that he alot of his organs inside were hurt, but that most of all his head was really hurt badly and that seth got his new room today. to which andrew answered "I want a new room" "no honey, seth died today". how could i have just told them that? this was all so terribly, terribly wrong. it was a time for us - our family - to just sob over losing seth. the kids had alot of questions....mostly about the accident, but also some heavy Heaven questions. i was so glad that we had family surrounding us.....they truly were lifting us up and helping us through the most difficult times in our lives. i truly believe that God was right there in that room....crying right along with us - and at the same time giving us the strength to be strong for the kids.
i remember greg and i and the kids all sleeping together in the living room for the first week - we didn't want them going to bed and just think. i remember family being at our house the entire week - i LOVED that.... i didn't want to have a quiet house. they were all together making the seth stars we handed out at the funeral, sharing sweet memories, holding each of us up. i remember the next day - monday - having to go to the funeral home. we had our parents go with could we make these decisions? obituary, service bulletins, visitation hours, horrible decisions. i remember going to the floral shop to pick out the flowers. brian and amy took care of us in such a loving way. i honestly can say that it was in the middle of hudsonville floral where i finally let it go. how absolutely embarrassing and yet i felt God's love through them.....such a gift. i remember going to the cemetary to pick out a plot - what a do you pick out a piece of land to place our son's body? it was so bitter cold and windy - fit the situation. i remember going to school afterwards. once again being completely surrounded with God's love by the teacher's there. we wanted to ask the upper deck to sing at seth's funeral - they did such a beautiful job.....we will FOREVER be grateful to them for that. i remember going home and collapsing. how did i get through that day? ONLY by the grace of God.

i remember so many times when we felt the grace of God. from the overwhelming outpouring of people visiting, to the ladies at school providing food during the visitations, making it through the funeral. i truly didn't think i could....again ONLY by the grace of God. my friend, chariss, was taking pictures throughout that week. i wanted to share 2 that were so beautiful...they NEED to be shared.....(bugger....i can't get them to move down here - they're uptop). both our brother's taking such care of our boy...i love to see the beautiful trees in the background - just a reminder of God's faithfulness.
i know some may be could she share these memories....shouldn't they be saved just for their family? i don't think of it that way.....i needed to share so that if anyone is EVER asked by God to give up something they NEVER thought they could - i want you to know that our God DOES and WILL give you the strength to survive....through family and friends praying you to stay in your 'grace bubble' - you WILL make it through. we're not alone....God is truly carrying us and there is NO sweeter place than to be in the arms of God. we've experienced that this past year.....seth experienced that almost a year ago today. we've almost made it through this first year - and we can honestly say....God IS good - all the time.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


last year at this time greg & i were getting ready to go away for the weekend. a very NEEDED weekend away. we were going with his brother and wife for our yearly weekend together. i was so excited....time with greg, no kids, adult conversation, just a time to relax. never in my wildest dreams did i know that the next day when i would be bringing the kids to where they needed to be i would be saying goodbye to seth for the last time. i remember it like it was yesterday. i brought the girls and luke over to mom and dad's in allendale - as usual seth and luke were arguing in the van on the way there. i remember losing my cool and yelling at them to stop. oh if i could just take those words back now. i didn't want seth's last words from me to be angry ones. i never dreamed they would be.

as we were leaving our house (caleb, seth, and andrew stayed back with our babysitter - keri....she is a JEWEL!) we were saying goodbye to the boys. we had gotten them some movies to watch and andrew and caleb were setting them up to start watching their "marathon".....but it was seth that hung back to say goodbye. i think back to that moment now and wonder - did God allow him the insight to say goodbye? i think actually it was a gift more for us than for him. i hugged him and tried to grab a kiss from him and got his usual 'fight' to not give a kiss. "stop, mum!! ugghhhh!" and then his infectious sweet little raspy laugh. i actually had forgotten that moment all together up until a few hours ago. i've tried all year to remember the last time i said goodbye to him and couldn't remember.....yet another gift. greg did his usual 'tickle-him-down-until-he-caved' hug. "i don't give, dad, i don't give" laughing so hard he was probably peeing his pants just a little! :) greg knew his tickle spot and used it mercilessly.....another gift.

and then we said goodbye. oh how i ache to run back a give one last last kiss. oh how i ache to hold him one last time. to hear his voice again. i'm not sure if i've ever written about the last time i DID hear his voice. it was actually last summer....some may not believe this story, but my mother's heart chooses to believe that God can provide anything that we need. i was out on the deck early in the morning trying to do my devotions. the one for the day was about listening to God and if you're not hearing Him you're not listening enough...not quiet enough. so here i am sitting in this chair, eyes closed repeating to myself "think on Him, think on Him, think on Him" then they came..... "hi, mum" "i wonder what i'm going to fix for supper tonight?" "hi, mum" "boy did greg look GOOD this morning going to work!:)" "hi, mum" "i wish that i wouldn't be eating so horribly right now" "hi, mum"....... all of these phrases coming to me and each time i would just say over "think on Him, think on Him, think on Him" (those of you who know me know that my mind can go in about a million different directions at the same time!). but the phrase that kept coming back at least 5 different times was "hi, mum" i was hearing seth. i thought to myself that i was just saying that to myself, but after the 5th time i thought that maybe, just maybe God was allowing this to happen so i let my mind go....

"hi, mum" oh, buddy i miss you so much! "i say hi to ya every day mum!" oh, seffers, and every day i end each and every one of my prayers with ....and give seth a hug from us and tell him we love him" to which i heard as CLEAR as if he were alive and saying out loud to me "i KNOW mum" like....would you PLEASE stop asking that becuz it's bugging me!!! :) but the sweetest part of this time that God gave me was as i was sitting there.....eyes closed and soaking in my conversation with our little guy....i literally FELT him crawl on my lap and sit there giving me a last time. it could have been abby right there on my lap - that's how real it felt! do i believe that God could enable seth to give me one last bet i do. (and i KNOW that seth is in Heaven becuz he would have NEVER willingly give me a hug!! :)) do i believe it truly happened? my mom's heart needs to believe that it happened......another gift.

today is a sweeter day.....a bittersweet day, not such a heavy one. i'm thankful for that. i'm thankful that i can hold on to the promise that i WILL see our seffers again and i WILL be able to hug him again. i dream about that time alot. until then.....Lord, give our seth a hug for us and tell him we love him. (no, buddy....i'll never stop praying that prayer)

Monday, October 27, 2008

I CHOOSE......

at the times when i feel the most alone....God surprises me again and again. this morning ben woke up at 5am. i fed him and then couldn't get back to sleep. i sat down with my Bible crying out to God saying "give me something. give me anything. just make this pain end. make it go away." and He delivered - boy did He deliver (why am i so surprised? He never ceases to amaze me) He gave me this verse: Psalm 71: 20-21 "though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. you will increase my honor and comfort me once again." i've written this to so many people who are going through trials, but today i read it with new eyes. today it was for me - only for me. 'you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.' that's exactly where i feel - in a deep dark pit. but i choose to cling to His promise of restoring my life. i choose to cling to Him. i choose to press on..............

Sunday, October 26, 2008


the heaviness has really taken me by surprise. i can't explain it except.....heaviness. it feels as if a huge weight is on top of me pushing down and making my heart just hurt. it just feels heavy - grief does. i don't know if that makes any sense, but it's the only word that describes my mood lately. the pain of losing seth is so overwhelming at's just heavy. i was telling a friend that i see myself on one mountain and i need to get to another one, but the chasm that i have to go through to get there is just too great.....the pain to much.....the energy in order to get there - i just don't have. i can so relate to David when he cried out to God "how long o Lord, how long?" it feels as if it's been forever.

i just wish nov 4 would come and go. be done with it. get it behind us. i'm hoping that this is the hard part and that the actual day isn't as bad as what i'm least that's what people have said....that's what i'm hoping and praying for.

God has blessed me so much with greg. he's such an amazing husband...puts up with me when i can't put up with myself. he just sits and holds me and lets me cry....i am so very blessed. i just hope that i am there for him.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


whoever said that grief was like waves hit the mark......dead on. it's just the intensity of those waves that surprise me at times. there are those little "ankle biter" waves - times when i think of seth and have a bittersweet memory of him. and there are those times when they are tidal waves. a tidal wave hit this morning.....head on.

abby and luke were going on a field trip today and they were going to be outside most of the day so they were going to need their hats/mittens. luke was looking through the baskets of them and proceeded to dump them all out looking for a pair (lovely.....let the winter ritual of losing mittens begin already!). he grabbed a pair and ran off for the bus - leaving behind of course a mess of mittens and hats. i sat down to start sorting them all ...... then is when i saw it......seth's royal blue detroit lions hat. it was the hat he ALWAYS wore in the winter. (see above picture....i couldn't get it to move down here) i could see him in it. i could hear him complain that he had to wear a hat again. i could smell him. i just want to see him in it again!!!!

grief IS like waves.......some you're able to breathe through.......and others you just feel as if you're drowning. my sister emailed me a beautiful verse in Isaiah 41: 10, 13 "so do not fear, for i am with you; i will strengthen you and help you; i will uphold you with my righteous right hand. for i am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; i will help you". it's such a beautiful picture of never being alone - even when it feels like you are. i like the part where He says that He will not only help me, but strengthen me. i don't feel strong today....but i have a hope that one day that strength WILL come and i pray that God alone will be glorified for it. today's tidal wave?......i felt like i was i couldn't i didn't want to do this 'grief' stuff any more....but i wasn't drowning. i see that now. God was breathing for me....breathing into me a new strength. strength that will get me through the next wave and the next and the one after that. to GOD be the glory!!! amen and amen.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


i know it is. i feel that it is. i hear that it is. i know that the 4th is coming .....and i'm dreading it as much as i was dreading seeing seth for the last time. i can just physically feel it coming. tears are just below the surface. patience with the kids is gone because i'm so on edge. i'm so very tired - always so tired. it's that emotional tiredness. that grief tiredness. i'm so scattered and yet so focused on what's coming in the weeks ahead.

it's still the little things that catch you off guard that hurt the most. little things like shoes. a few weeks ago we were sitting in church. we've now put lydia and ben in the nursery. i love that and i hate that. i love it because i can get something out of the services again and i hate it because we're back to just 5 kids in the bench with us. it was this one Sunday when i looked down at the boys on the other side of greg and saw only 3 sitting there again, but this time luke had his feet up on the pew in front of us and he was wearing seth's old shoes. i physically gasped and then sat forward to peer on the other side. i don't know what i was looking for....did i count wrong, was seth really there and this was all just a horrible, horrible nightmare? little things like shoes brings it all back to the surface for me.

and yet it's in church where i feel such peace. this morning was a perfect example of how our family at church has come around us and grieved with us....they making sure that we know we're not doing this alone. greg was at home this morning since he was up all night catching babies. so the kids and i and the 5 kids sitting in the pew. i was doing just fine until we sang amazing grace. the last verse has always choked me up...."when we've been there ten thousand years. bright shining as the sun." this time, though, i fell apart.... just a little bit. so here i am trying not to make a scene and yet feeling so alone without greg and all of the sudden i feel a hand on my shoulder from a dear 'sister' of mine. a few minutes later another hand, this time with a much needed hanky. it reminded me of my grandma's hanky's - it was almost as if grandma was there encouraging me and telling me that she was not only with me right there, but telling me that seth was ok too. i can so picture grandma with seth. i picture that the day seth entered Heaven - grandma would have been one of the first to meet him i'm sure. she'd cup his face with her hands and tell him "welcome Home, sweetie, i'm your momma's grandma and i'm so glad to finally hold ya myself!" (i wish you all could have known my absolute beautiful soul). all from a silly little hanky. our family...our Ridgewood family surrounding us with their love yet again. we are so very blessed.

the other day i had a devotion that was just the picture of our grief. "james vernon mcgee says that when a shepherd seeks to lead his sheep to better grass up the winding, thorny mountain paths, he often finds that the sheep will not follow him. they fear the unknown ridges and the sharp rocks. the shepherd will then reach into the flock and take a little lamb on one arm and another on his other arm. then he starts up the precipitous pathway. soon the two mother sheep begin to follow, and afterward the entire flock. thus they ascend the tortuous path to greener pastures. so it is with the Good Shepherd. sometimes he reaches into the flock and takes a lamb to himself. he uses the experience to lead his people, to lift them to new heights of commitment as they follow the little lamb all the way home." i pray that that is happening. we've told the kids several times in this last year that for some reason God had this happen in their lives. we don't understand it yet, but maybe someday they will. seth's death will have shaped their lives in such a way as to hopefully bring glory and honor to God. that's my biggest prayer....that through all of this pain that we've endured - that God is glorified. i remember saying that in the hospital a year ago. i needed to know that we could glorify God even when He chooses to take a child back. i needed to know that I could glorify God so that way i know that my faith was secure.....was true. what selfish thinking that is! i was worried about my faith. when will i ever get this right?

it's coming......the 4th is. people have asked what we're going to do. i'm not sure. i don't know what's the RIGHT thing. i don't think there IS a right thing. all i know is that i pray in whatever we do we will be able to honor seth and glorify God in such a way as to make them both proud.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


i've never posted twice in one day before, but the kids said the sweetest thing tonight while cleaning up from supper. luke was playing peek-a-boo with ben and he said that "ben is the best player of that game ever, mom!" to which andrew answered "yea....he wins every time!" oh i just LOVE what they come up with at times!!


some of you may know us well enough to know that we have had multiple different bedroom arrangements in our just takes us about 5 years to finally figure out which one works the best!!! when we moved into our house we had 4 bedrooms upstairs (still do) one being a larger one. then about 2 1/2 years ago greg and his dad finished off 2 more bedrooms downstairs. i had a friend ask me once about every arrangement we had and at the end of the conversation i had to just laugh.....we spend more time moving these kids' STUFF around than we do enjoying them where they're at!!! so, let me give you a little look into the "van wienen's house of musical rooms".

BR #1: flag room - due to red, white, and blue colors.....upstairs
BR #2: frog room - due to the rain forest frogs making their way onto the
BR #3: flower room - used to be the play room and now since has become the flower
room for obvious reasons.......upstairs
BR #4: the big room - no real cutesy name...........upstairs
BR #5: sports room - becuz of the inability to even SEE the colors of the walls due to
the vast number of sports posters plastered all over!.......downstairs
BR#6: the water room - becuz it's been flooded at least 4 times in the last year
(ENTIRELY different story!)......downstairs

as mentioned before #5 and #6 just entered the equation 2 1/2 years begins our story...

BR #1: Caleb - promised for him before we even started building
BR #2: Seth & Luke - lasted for an EXTREMELY short period of time. something about not
wanting to hear about "seth is wearing my underwear AGAIN" or
"luke is stealing ALL of my stuff!"
BR#3: play room for the same EXTREMELY short period of time. became seth's room and the
toys were banished to the basement
BR#4: grace and abby - living together in utter harmony (although i'm sure there were fights -
they were just over powered by the boys!)


BR #1: caleb and andrew - since caleb went to russia with us and we thought andrew would
know him the best. right AND wrong! putting a 4 year old in with a 3rd grader turned
out to be one of our not so good decisions......
BR#2: luke and andrew - even WORSE decision than putting andrew with caleb!!! talk about
2 personalities that DO NOT mesh!

DECISION TO ADD MORE ROOMS......for familial survival

BR#1: luke - since he wanted the window seat which we later found out the little bugger would
sometimes crawl out of the window onto the roof to retrieve balls/frisbees/what not
that the boys had thrown up there! therefore, luke didn't last too long in that room
BR#2: andrew - when the frogs came into being.
BR#3: grace - "FINALLY i get my OWN room" was the chant for months. also when the
flowers were painted on the walls
BR#4: abby - big room - all alone and miserable!!! WE CAN'T WIN HERE
PEOPLE!!!!......she was so lonely. about that time we knew that lydia was going to be
coming so we told her that she would go in with abby - bought us time
BR#5: caleb - and the sports posters went up and up and up and up and up
BR #6: seth - no water at that point. he ALWAYS was looking at liscense plates on cars trying
to find all the states. he would drive us CRAZY on road trips!! so we were in the
process of collecting liscences to put on his wall when he finally confessed to being
scared of his room (took him an entire year to be able to tell us this!) since it
reminded him of the orphanage. gives us GREAT reassurance - that we're
building rooms that remind him of his orphanage!!! reminder to self - hire the
next part of the basement to be finished!


BR#1: seth - in his more nightmares
BR#2: andrew... quiet with his frogs
BR#3: grace.....still in "heaven" with her own room
BR#4: abby.....lonely yet hopeful
BR#5: caleb.....sports and smells (not the nicest smelling room! - teenagers!)
BR#6: luke.....calls himself "bigger" than seth since he was in the basement (what next!)

to which we told happy that you all have your own rooms will NOT last becuz we don't know what God has in store for the future. God must have been laughing becuz it was about then that we found out about Ben!!!!!!

well.....this has gone on WAY too long and you've probably gotten so sick of hearing about our bedroom woes. suffice it to say abby and grace are back together again (thoroughly enjoying the new loft that was built in their room - if anyone ever needs an AMAZING builder call Bruce Tebben at.....:)). and the rest are enjoying peace and harmony in their own rooms.......for now!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


it's quiet today. that's good and bad. i have such a migraine that just doesn't seem to let up. had a dentist appointment today and i feel horrible for the tech - she was telling me everything that was wrong with my teeth (God bless her...) and i just felt my eyes just welling up. she could tell i wasn't handling it well and she said she felt bad "i didn't want to overwhelm you" she didn't - it's just the day. she told me "it's time for mom..." it just struck me...."it's time for mom...."

i left the appointment and fell apart in the van. these last 11 months greg and i HAVE been focusing on making sure the kids are ok, taking care of ben, bringing lydia home. we have said many times that the time we were dreading the most was after lydia was home and things settled down a little felt as if it would be THEN that we'd have to really deal with seth's death. we have 2 different pictures of our family on the fridge. one taken this time last year and one taken after lydia was home. i look at those 2 pictures and am amazed at how TERRIBLY different they are. last years picture.....6 kids - older, active kids. this year's picture....7 kids - young, old....and one gapping whole missing one of our children. so much change. so many blessings. so much pain. so much joy. how can a family experience such polar opposites at the same time? how can i look at the kids and be filled with such joy and yet have a such an empty pit in my heart at the same time?

what does my grief look like? it's like that commercial for depression...."where does depression hurt?......all over" what does my grief look like? right now it's working in circles and not getting a spitting thing accomplished. it's not being able to finish the laundry in the usual 2 stretches to 4 and 5 days. it's not feeling like cleaning my house and being bugged that it's so dirty (dirty is relative here, people - i don't want you to have an image of a cyclone hitting our house....i'm a slightly obsessive/compulsive dirty is quite relative :)) it's starting one thing and being completely distracted and starting to do 5 other things. it's having a heavy heart. it's not having any ambition. it's laughing at something one minute and then crying the next. it's looking at our kids and being so very thankful for those we have here. it's not wanting to change the kid's school pictures on the wall - knowing that one of them will stay the same. it's changing the kid's clothes over and seeing all the clothes that seth used to wear. it's having a hope and a promise that we'll all see our seffers again. it's being carried by my Heavenly Father so tenderly that at times i can almost feel His breath on my cheek. it's hearing Him say that we're not alone. it's being loved even though we don't feel like loving. what does my grief look like? a happy/sad. happy that seth is more loved than he has EVER been in his entire life and yet sad that i can't see him experience it.

i can tell that we're coming close to the year anniversary when seth went Home. i can tell that we've tried our best in taking care of the kids and their grief. i can tell that it just may be.....time for mom.

Friday, October 3, 2008


it's been a rough week. i've been following the carepages of a calvin christian sophmore who has been in critical condition all week and who passed away on thursday am. for some reason greg and i have been playing the "where/what were we doing this time last year" game. 11 months tomorrow. 11 months when our nightmare began. 11 months of broken hearts. 11 months of crying for no good reason at times. 11 months of screaming out to God "i want him back". 11 months of just aching to hold our son just one more time.

watching the gortsema family go through this week of hell, has just brought back our week from hell - all too clearly for me. my heart aches for them having to make those same grueling decisions we had to make....picking out a coffin, picking out flowers, picking out a cemetary plot, writing an obituary for seth - all so very, very wrong. wanting to be strong for the kids and yet feeling like you're completely losing it inside your own mind. my heart just aches for the gortsema family. my "heart hurt" is just stronger than usual.
the kids went to grief camp (camp compass) last saturday. they seemed to have enjoyed it. we pray that it was the right thing for them to do. that's just what started this hard week. just am thinking and missing seth more this week. the day that travis died was such a cold and rainy day and it was just a horrible day for me. i was devasted all over again. but God's timing was impecable once again. after this hard day for me, greg came home with this cute little apple basket filled with trick or treat goodies. the card (from one of greg's co-workers) read something like "wanted you to have a smile on your face again. the witch ( a darling little figurine for halloween) is for jolynn - thought it'd make her smile (which it did, mary - thank you!!). the 3 little spider rings are for the girls (thankfully not a rubber ducky!!) there were 7 flashlights on the side for the kids. but my most favorite part was the 300(!!!!!) glow in the dark necklaces. the card said that we may hand these out to any trick-or-treater so that the entire neighborhood could shine for seth. what an extremely thoughtful and caring gesture for her to remember us in this way. thank you mary!!!

then this morning...andrew needed a coat and had found one "look it mom!! it's seth's old coat and it fits me perfectly!!" all i could see was seth wearing it. i could just close my eyes and see him complaining about wearing it again "it gets in my way when i'm playing bball mum!!!!" oh how much would i give in order to hear thosee words again!! i had slumped back into the kitchen when abby came back in holding a note from a fellow JCS mom.

timing....His timing is just absolutely perfect.

He's still watching out for us. He's still right close by. He's sill wanting to cover us with His love....what an amazing God we serve!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008


there are lessons that a mom is entitled to pass onto her children. lessons like to share your toys. or lesson to tie your shoe. or possibly lesson to finish your homework on time. but there are certain lessons that a mom has no clue that she should even teach her kids. i learned one of those lessons last week. let me set the stage......

3:30pm - preparing supper to put into the oven before the kids get home by 3:50pm. lydia wakes up .... i go get her only to find her with a stinky pants. do i quick change her (oh, by the way, there's no QUICK anything when it comes to changing lydie's diapers) or do i wait and finish putting together supper before the kids get home? i chose the latter. so here i am - finishing up the casserole with lydie at my feet .....smelling to high heaven. the kids get after another after another "lydie stinks mom!" "mom, i think lydia needs her diaper changed!" "MOM!!! she REALLY smells!!" you get the picture. (i did wonder to myself several times why no one OFFERED to change her pants since 3 of the 5 of them know how to....but that's going to be another lesson for another day).

i'm trying to hurry and finish with the meal so i won't have to hear about lydia's dirty pants anymore when all of the sudden i hear lydia at my feet....but more than that - i'm SMELLING lydia at my feet. this time - no stinky pants....oh, no......i smell this horrible smell of what may be an entire bottle of.................. FEBREEZE!!! what came out of my mouth next i NEVER thought i'd be saying "WHO FEBREEZED THEIR YOUNGER SISTER!!!!!" innocently one older brother stepped up to proudly say that he "took care of the dirty pants" - by emptying a 1/2 bottle of febreeze on her head!!!!! "WHAT possessed you???" "well, mom - she stunk...i made her smell better didn't i?" who could argue with that? (although, i don't know which is worse - a poopy pants or a child with a poopy pants and a febreeze bath!)

so....lesson number #485......don't ever, under no circumstances drench your younger sibling with febreeze - even if she has a poopy pants!!

lesson number to give your sister a bath!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


It just dawned on me - many of you had seth moments too. if you would....if you're able and willing....could you share them with me? i LOVE hearing things about him that i didn't know he had said or did. could you help me keep him alive - just for a while longer? thanks ..... from a mom who wants to hang on for as long as i'm able.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


we have a seth trunk in the middle of our living room. it's a trunk with many things that remind us of seth. the kids occasionally put things in there for him - sometimes i find the funniest things (mostly pretty stones that they find that remind them of him). one of the most precious things in our seth trunk for me is his journal. we were given his journal from school that he had written in before he died. i love looking at his little handwriting - he HATED writing mind you....would have MUCH rather been outside playing basketball but he had to do his assignments too. the last entry he wrote were things he was thankful for "i am thankful that we have the bible. i am thankful for mom and dads. i'm thankful for God. i'm thankful for earth"

we've kept this journal in his trunk and have told the kids that whenever they have a memory of seth that they have to write them down. i've explained to them that i don't have alot of memories when i was 9,10,11,12,13 years old - i've forgotten much of that time in my life. i don't want them to be 30 something and look back on their brother and not have many memories of him. oh, i know that they'll never forget seth...but i don't want them to forget how he used to take his leftover food from his lunch box and put it in his locker box so he wouldn't get into trouble for not eating his entire lunch (to which we'd never know, that is, until we started smelling some awful rank stuff in the locker room coming from his locker box!) those are the things that make a brother a friend....i don't want them to lose their friend. so we tell them often write your memories of him down.

i was thinking about that today.....the things that i don't want to forget about our seth - those little things that i will always cherish.

-i want to remember when we were on vacation once and we were on a stony beach and of course he was looking for his precious agates. he ran up to me and had something in his hand. he shyly and quietly said to me "here mum...i love you". he ran away quickly before i was able to see what he gave me. i opened my hand and found this.....

it stays with me in my purse every day. it's one of the things that he gave to me that i will forever cherish

-i want to remember how he still would rock himself to sleep....reminding me of the start of his short life when he had to comfort himself in the orphanage - rocking himself to sleep.

-i want to remember his little smirk of a smile when we first brought him home

-i want to remember the first few nights when we brought him home. he, luke, and caleb were all in one room together. seth and caleb were on bunk beds (seth on bottom) and luke was in a toddler bed. we would find him asleep in bed with luke in his little bed - just trying to find something that was familiar to him.

-i want to remember how he would try and sneak up around me in the mornings - just to see if he could get me to jump.

-i want to remember how caleb taught him how to roller blade.

-i want to remember how he had such a little barrel chest. he had such a football body.

-i want to remember how his 3rd toe would always rest on top of all his other toes - not for the lack of us trying to straighten them back out! we think he must have been squished into too small shoes for the first 4 years of his life.

-i want to remember how he LOVED playing with his cousins. especially light sabers with kyle!

-i want to remember the time when he and i were in his room reading a book and he asked me "mum...God is in Heaven isn't He?" He sure is i replied to which he commented "how do I get there to be with Him?" i told him that all he has to do is ask. "i just gotta ask????" you just have to ask, honey. "i wanna, mum, i wanna" so in that brown cozy chair with him on the arm rest and me in the seat he folded his hands really tight and squinted his eyes super shut. he peeked out of his one eye and quietly asked "i just ask?" you just ask, seffers. after he said his beautiful little prayer i will NEVER forget his reaction. he opens his eyes and looks over at me with a look that a child has after he has just opened a Christmas gift and he so excitedly squeals to me "mum, i feel warm all over!!! i just know He just came in!!" (THAT is my one single most favorite memory of him)

-i want to remember how he loved playing basketball with his brothers and greg

-i want to remember how i would ALWAYS tell him to push up his glasses

-i want to remember in myrtle beach the last time we were there and i was trying to get a nice picture of him and he was just being goofy and i clicked one of my favorite pictures of him...

-i want to remember how he would spend hours searching for agates in the stony area in the back of our house (providentially we had never landscaped that area - we're turning that into our seth garden)

-i want to remember how it took him 1 year to tell us that he didn't like having his bedroom downstairs becuz it reminded him of the bathroom the caregivers put him into at the orphanage when he was naughty (they told him that there were monsters behind the square box on the wall and that if they made a noise or tried to get out the monsters would come and get him - terrible memories for him). we moved him to an upstairs bedroom that week.

-i want to remember how he desperately wanted a friend and was so excited when troy powney invited him over. "i finally have a friend mum!" ( i will forever be grateful to you for that pam!)

-i want to remember his last Sunday school Christmas program when he, grayden hoekwater, and tanner baker were the 3 wisemen and they had these beautifully made kings robes. when they were getting ready for the program one of the boys had the brilliant idea of taking his pants off (i wouldn't be surprised if it were seth's idea). so here were those 3 stinker boys running around with their robes on and no pants - beaming from ear to ear.

-i want to remember how we FORCED him to take one year of piano - THAT was a long year! he didn't like it at all....again, he'd MUCH rather have been outside playing basketball.

-i want to remember how he smelled.

-i want to remember how his fingernails were ALWAYS dirty - as any 10 year old little boy

-i want to remember how he and caleb would play football together in the front yard.

-i want to remember how it felt checking on him at night before going to bed myself and kissing him on the head.

i just want to remember our little boy - every little aspect of him. i don't want to forget what an amazing gift from God he was to us. i want to honor those 5 years we had him. i want God to be glorified in his life even after his death. i don't want to let go. i want him back. i want one last hug, one last kiss, one last laugh. but i have a hope....the reality that i WILL get more hugs, i WILL get more kisses, i WILL get more laughs. oh how i yearn for that day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


many of you have asked how it's been going with lydia. so i just wanted to update you a little on what she's been up to.....i watch our neice (emily) on fridays - she is also adopted from guatemala and is only 1 week older than lydie - i'm finding they are partners in crime. they locked me out of the house last week. i went into the garage for something and the screen door is closed when i come back - here these two little black haired, brown eyed beauties are on the other side just a gigglin'. i knew they were up to something but didn't know what until i tried the door - yup...locked - not a lock that i can use my key ....oh's the little black switch that emmie obviously knows how to push up and down - this time - up and locked! i can only see their heads at the window and here i am begging them to unlock the door - one knowing EXACTLY what i was asking and one having no clue but still laughing at her mama non the less. thankfully emmie finally unlocked the door (i wasn't too concerned since the slider was unlocked anyway) - true partners in crime!

the other things that lydie does in her spare time is try and put ben's shoes on her dolls - at least she's trying to put them on their feet and not on their heads or something!!! (although the picture looks like she's trying to put it on her ear)

trying on new accessories....

having her first ice cream cone.....

hanging out with ben.....

she has been doing so well. she just walks the circle around the main floor - oh about 3 dozen times a day! her eating is doing somewhat better depending on the day and her mood - she really is a little picky eater!! (no wonder she just got smaller and smaller in the orphanage!) she has no words yet but sure does make her wishes known!! we have early on from ottawa county coming out to evaluate her next week. hopefully we can get speech therapy, OT, and PT involved to help her catch up. we moved her into her own room (don't ask grace if she appreciated giving up her bedroom - NOT a happy day for her!) becuz of school schedules and such. she just seems like she's always been here! we are so blessed, so happy, and so in love with our new little girl!

Monday, September 15, 2008


oh the joys of the kids getting their pictures taken!! as much as i love the first day of school - i HATE picture day!! we have all the best intentions....set out the outfits the night before....take showers the night before so that hair doesn't go to school wet...get up early just in case of a wardrobe malfunction....but i can NEVER plan on every situation!

one woke up in an extremely bad mood - she will remain nameless (grace) - and NOTHING was working for her....especially her hair "it's all FUZZY!!!" well ...water it flat "i CAN'T use water - then it'll look WET!!" (of course it would - why didn't I think of that!) "this outfit doesn't look right!!! these jeans just don't look right with the shirt!" one will SEE the jeans in the picture. but they will see me NOW!! i then just let her figure her outfit/hairstyle out herself. she left at least with clothes on.

one woke up FINALLY! raced to get dressed and put on play clothes instead of his school clothes we laid out the night before. send him back upstairs....comes down with Sunday clothes back up and get the clothes we set out last night....comes down for the third time time with totally wrong clothes - AGAIN!!! WALK the child upstairs and find 3 outfits thrown all over the floor and missing the outfit we laid out....after 10min of searching we find it and that one is done.

one leaves for school perfectly fine. right combed.....good mood.....nothing in his teeth. pick him up at 11am (after his picture mind you) for a dr's appointment. he comes out running and the first thing i notice is this HUGE chain around his neck. you know the kind......the chains that gang members attach to their wallets, but our son uses it as a necklace instead!!!! it's big enough that he was already getting bruises around his neck from running and the chain bouncing up and down on his neck! "please, please, please tell me that you didn't wear that for your pictures!" "well.....yea, mom - don't you think it looks great??!?!?! i got it from the wow box at school since i've done so good lately!" (who could argue with THAT one?!?!)

and one tries so very hard to smile.....and it just turns into this grimace of a face. anyone remember the episode of Friends where chandler can't smile - no matter how hard he tries? yea, well......that would be our son, once again - nameless (andrew). no matter how many times he tries it just comes out like he's constipated or something. it's a face only a mom could love! combine that with his very needed orthodontia work - truly a face only a mom could love!

so picture day came and went.....bad hair, ugly clothes (or so the kids think), "fuzzy hair", gang chains, and bad smiles.....can we say .................... RETAKES!!!!

Monday, September 8, 2008


so has anyone ever felt that they may have traumatized their child ever? i think i may have last week! child - lydia......trauma from - a duck washcloth. i had lydie in the bath with all her toys - which she used to love to have in there with her. ben was in to and they were having so much fun just splashing each other (i actually had my 2nd shower of the day with them!) it is so fun to watch them together! night and day difference!!!! red hair - black hair......double chin - no chin.....rolls everywhere - skin and bones.....2 teeth - mouthful of teeth.....pot belly - no get the picture. anyway i was watching them play and then found a duck washcloth that is a puppet too. i was using the best duck voice i have and talking with them. initially they were having a ball with it, then it happened........lydia started pointing at the duck and the duck grabbed her fingers with it's beak. INSTANT HYSTERIA!!! i don't know if she ever had a run in with a duck in the orphanage or what, but i tell you what i've never seen a child freak out as quickly as that! she pushed herself to the back of the tub screaming and trying to get away from the washcloth as much as possible. she was shaking like a leaf!! so what would any good mom try and do? well of course try and show her that it's just a puppet. 2nd round of INSTANT HYSTERIA!!! that obviously didn't work at all. so after THROWING the blasted puppet out of the room to show her that it wasn't after her after all - i got her out of the tub just a-shiverin' (and not from being cold either!)

needless to say, she now can't have anything in the tub with her at all. another bath a few days later with no duck washcloth but just a few toys (including some rubber duckies) - she started to freak out that the other toys were coming toward her....hence the reason i think i've traumatized her for life!! so bath time is just bubble time - darn it....i miss doing my duck voice! it was pretty good if i don't say so myself! at least i got smiles out of her afterwards.......

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


for those of you who know me well you know that....... i LOVE the first day of school. i love everything about it - the kid's excitement (masked by them complaining about having to go), getting their backpacks packed, getting them breakfast, watching them wait anxiously for the bus, taking their pictures, and always my happy dance. i'll never forget last year when grace asked me "mom, could you just wait to do your happy dance until we're gone?" today i just don't have it in me. today there's just this overwhelming sadness that i just can't seem to shake. today i miss our seffers. my heart is just hurting and my heart wound feels as if it's broke full open and bleeding again.

i always get the kids on the bus and then hop into the van and meet them at school to take pictures of them with their friends. i can't seem to get myself to go today. i can't see seth's friends all together without him there shooting hoops until the first bell. i can't seem to make myself put on a happy face in front of the other moms/dads. i know that God has planned lydia coming home right now so that in part it wouldn't be so hard today. i just can't seem to be excited about lydia with everyone when on the inside i'm just wanting to cry out "don't you know that my heart is breaking here? don't you see that seth isn't here?" i'm sure (without a doubt) that people would remember, but i just can't put myself in a place where there's a chance that they won't. i just need to hide today - in a way honor seth. i just need him to know how much i miss him today. oh how i would have loved to take his picture this morning, instead i'll stay home and look at his last year's picture of his 1st day of school.

i miss his cute little smile. i miss his way of acting like he doesn't want a kiss from his mom but enjoying it immensly when i do get in there and give him a big slobbery one. i miss his hugs. i would give anything to break up a fight between him and luke or andrew at the bus stop. i miss him showing me his new tricks that involve basketball. i remember him showing me just weeks before he died how he was finally able to dribble through his legs - he was SO proud of that accomplishment (as was i). i miss his mischieveousness. you always knew when he was up to something no good! i know that he wasn't an angel - not by far, but he still was our special little guy. (he'd HATE being called little!) i just miss our seffers today.

but, God has given us so many gifts since He decided to take seth Home. so many gifts that it's just mind boggling. bringing us lydia at this this's not lost on us - God is still so much alive in our lives. having ben and watching him grow the way he is - and the absolute joy he has brought to all of us. giving us the other kids to watch and grow and raise. God is still good - all the time. and to know that He still loves me even when i focus on what i don't have anymore is so comforting. i can just picture Him here with me ...... crying right along with me....letting me be sad......waiting for me to crawl on His lap and wrap His arms around me. we have such a loving Father. He knows exactly this pain of losing a child.

so, even during this day of overwhelming sadness.....i have hope. wow. that ALONE is a gift. that ALONE is from God. never, never would i believed i could claim that promise after these last 10 months. praise God that He has allowed us to be able to do that. yes, my heart wound is bleeding......yes, my heart is heavy...... but i will NOT let that allow me to reject the love that our Father wants to lavish on us. He will once again heal my heart. I know He will, He's promised.... but for now - today - i just want our seth back.
1st day of got up (yes - ALL of them excited this year!!), backpacks were packed, breakfast was eaten, circle prayers said, bus stop waiting - finished, pictures taken........
happy dance?..... maybe next year.