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.