Posted in Five Minute Friday, Grief

Five Minute Friday: Broken


Start . . .



I won’t be broken.  The “what ifs” will be gone.   I won’t lay awake half the night praying for children’s broken decisions, how gossip has broken another child, and how bills will be paid and new school books be bought.  I won’t worry about our broken bodies and wonder about the side affects of continued medications.  We won’t fret about how much more the car will get broken, when new noises appear.  Friendships and relationships will no longer be broken nor turning away from each other, saying time will heal, yet it never does.  Broken homes won’t crumble, but will be built on solid rock with so many rooms and our glorious Savior before our eyes.  Broken hearts will be healed and tears finally wiped dry. Broken promises will be forgiven and truly forgotten. No broken guitar strings or voices broken in fear. No more broken out faces, broken bones or broken bodies, emotionally, spiritually or emotionally.  Children won’t be born with broken hearts or bodies broken down with cancer.  Parents won’t be broken at their children’s graves.

No broken communication with Jesus.  

Someday . . . 

Broken Heart


For, forever.

He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

. . . Finish

Kept Signature Joining Lisa-Jo and her Five Minute Friday. ” five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right “
Posted in Faith, Family, Five Minute Friday, Grief

Five Minute Friday: AFTER Finding Joy in the Morning


start . . .
I really should just tell you to go read Lisa-Jo’s post on after today.  I can relate to her “after” thoughts.  This right here says a lot:

And holes that joy used to slip through are slowly closing over.
I’m a survivor of the after.

I am also the survivor of the after . . . many afters . . .

  • after my husband and I eloped and some family accepted after several months – other family never did;
  • after a wonderful home birth and then after two open heart surgeries for that baby;
  • after the burial of our stillborn baby;
  • after several job losses and finding a church family, 
  • after the death of my mom and no good-byes or reconciliation this side of heaven;
  • a half  a year later, after, the death of a 16 year old son, much of what time has been associated with;

after finding joy in the morning even in the grief . . . .

  • after the arrival of  our 12th born child and treasuring life and going on;
  • after three weddings in 15 months and a new daughter & 2 new sons;
  • after the continued joy and anticipation of our first grandbaby;
  • after learning and continuing to learn, that Jesus is enough;
  • after knowing I am a survivor because I am

Kept Signature

Joining Lisa-Jo and her Five Minute Friday.
” five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right “

Posted in Choking Game, Family, Grief, Matthew

Heartbreaking – Choking Game Kills Yet Another


t breaks my heart to read today of yet, another child dying from the choking game.   

This time, a beautiful little girl, Aja Chandler, only 11 years old.  My heart breaks for the family finding her dead in her bedroom. I know too well the long road of healing ahead, the memories of finding her, and not just the first of everything to go through, but  the second year, third year, and all the things kids her age will now pass her by with, including when her friends graduate and begin to marry. We are there now.  Her picture will never age.  And the “what ifs” will consume the parents minds for quite some time.  

I hate it for them.  I still hate it for us, 8 years later.

Our son was 16 when he died from the choking game.  Aja, only 11. I have daughters her age.  Have you talked to your children yet?  Please, if you haven’t, make it a priority.  We had to make good out of our son’s death.  To know other kid’s lives have saved from “playing” with this game helps our hearts that will never totally heal until we are reunited in heaven.  May the same be said of Aja Chandler.

May Aja’s family and friends allow God to give them the peace that passes all understanding during this devastating time.  

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Posted in Faith, Family, Grief

In Memory of our 15 year old baby girl, Angela Hope

AngelaDaisesI think of her often. What does she look like? When I see her again, will Jesus hand me a baby or will she be a grown woman? I know when I am in heaven, it won’t matter, but I imagine her full of life, maybe 3 years old, fluttering around in a lacy white dress, picking daisies and grabbing her big brother’s hand to run through the green pastures.  

Does she play hide-n-seek with Uriah, Victoria and Timothy? Does she run with the many babies that came to heaven too early because of the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade today?

angelDoes God part the clouds for her to peak in on us? Did she see her twin sisters as they married last year in their pretty wedding dresses? Was she as excited as her sisters, clapping her hands as little girls do? Was she a silent flower girl, throwing daisy petals from the heavens?

When my seven daughters here (including my daughter-in-law), were lined up for pictures, was she peeking through?

I especially remember that precious little baby girl I held 15 years ago today, so perfect, yet so very silent, never to hear her first cry or see the color of her eyes.

Does she hear us sing happy birthday and watch as her siblings blow out her birthday candles?

Does she catch the kisses I blow to her today?

And does she blow kisses back?

I think so.

Happy Birthday our Angela Hope.

We love you.


Posted in Faith, Family, Grief

Thankfulness Through Song ~ “How Great Thou Art” {Day 12}


had another song picked out for today, but then just read that a homeschool family  in the area lost their daughter in a car accident today.  My heart breaks for them.  Right before Thanksgiving . . .  before Christmas. It will all be a blur of months ahead for them.  We know this time too well, with the loss of a child.   I looked at one of their son’s Facebook page, and this is what he wrote:    \

Oh Lord my God when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds thy hands have made I see the stars I hear the rolling thunder thy power through out the universe displayed… And all these displayed in my sister Anneke – beauty you compare only to the stars loved like rolling thunder… I love you Lord for her and the time I was blessed with to get to know her.

In everything give thanks.  What a demonstration!  WOW!  Yes, How Great Though Art!  And what hope we have!

How Great Though Art
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home- what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, my God, how great thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Posted in Books, Grief, REVIEW

Book Review: Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief by Margaret McSweeney

Loss is a four-letter word that grips our hearts and gridlocks our lives. Grief can hold us captive until we surrender it to God. How do we find the necessary grace to journey through the mourning process? Juxtaposed to the outpouring of her mother’s words about grief, the author shares her parallel journey from the emotional abyss of grief after becoming an adult orphan. With candor, the author shares her own emotions experienced along the spectrum of loss after her parents’ deaths: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—adding interactive options for readers. Five sections cover these common emotions and provide:
  • comfort Scripture lists
  • counsel sections from grief experts
  • chronicling sections with detailed helps
  • tangible handles on dealing with grief during holidays, capturing loved ones’ legacy, and more.
Above provided by New Hope Publishers


or someone who may have just gone through the earthly loss of someone close, it can be hard reading deep books. Their mind can be in such a fog and it’s so hard to comprehend.  I believe this can be a book to give to someone who has either had a close loss or to a friend or family member who wants to understand another’s loss.  Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief by Margaret McSweeney is like reading someone’s personal journal and various conversations of reply throughout this easy reading, tender book.  
Carolyn Rhea first wrote the book, When Grief Is Your Constant Companion: God’s Grace for a Woman’s Heartache after the death of her husband, which consisted of 52 devotionals for women walking the same grief journey.  After Mrs. Rhea passed away, her daughter, Margaret McSweeney was asked to expand her mother’s book.  Aftermath includes some of her mom’s poetry and writings, and Margaret’s walk of grief after the death of her mom.  It’s a very personal book, one of sharing so many raw emotions, the ups and downs and the ultimate security in Jesus.  It also showed to me, how important our little notes we leave behind, being in our Bibles, notebooks or letters to family is so important.  These are treasures that are passed on and show our hearts.
I highly recommend Aftermath for anyone to read . . . and would even be good for a family anticipating the death of a loved one, in things to prepare for and memories that can be made.

 This review was written in exchange for a copy of the book, and expresses my honest opinion of the book. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Margaret McSweeney is a well-published author often writing online articles for Make It Better (the former North Shore Magazine) and freelance articles for the Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. In addition, she has authored and compiled several books including A Mother’s Heart Knows; Go Back and Be Happy; Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace and most recently, Mother of Pearl.

Margaret has a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in international business. As is the founder of Pearl Girls, Margaret collaborates with other writers on projects to help fund a safe house for WINGS, an organization that helps women and their children who are victims of domestic violence, and to build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda through Hands of Hope. For the past 10 years she has served on the board of directors and leadership advisory board for WINGS. Margaret lives with her husband and 2 daughters in the Chicago suburbs. Learn more about Margaret and the work of Pearl Girls at

Posted in Books, Faith, Grief, Matthew, REVIEW

Book Review: Desperate for Hope by Bruce W. Martin

Things are going just fine,
and then the call comes.

There’s been an accident.
There’s a mass in your breast.
The company’s downsizing.
Your husband is leaving.
Your daughter was raped.
And all of a sudden your life
is spinning out of control.
By Bruce W. Martin,


ave you had a call or life changing experience, like the author mentioned above?

We have . . .  from our daughter having serious heart defects and three open heart surgeries, a stillborn daughter and the death of our son. Sometimes it’s hard to make sense of it all, and where God is in it all, but indeed, we have seen and found Him, many times through the deepest valleys more evident than the brightest of days.  I appreciated that Bruce Martin, did not sugar-coat the life trials by sharing his heart and experiences, including friendships that were shattered because of it.  

His writings were encouraging, such as, to worship God even when things are bad, which is not our normal default, and how praising God can even change our attitude and help us endure through the situation.

“We move from thinking Woe is me to Great is our God.  The more we reflect on the greatness of God, the more our perspective on the situation changes.  We’re reminded that God is with us and He’s always up to something.  We just can’t see it yet.”  (p. 73)

Throughout Desperate for Hope, Mr. Martin relates to the story of Job and others from Scripture, along with the author of the song, It is Well With My Soul.  Part Three of the book is titled, “The New Normal“.  I’ve often referred to this myself, especially after the death of our 16 year old son.  Things would never be the same, but joy does come again, and there is a new normal.

I really appreciated the honesty of life experiences and reactions and looking for God in it all.  Each chapter is ended with with questions that are great for the individual reading it or for a book group going through this together, such as a grief group.

I highly recommend reading Desperate for Hope for anyone, and it would also make a caring gift for someone going through the valleys of life.

You can read many more quotes on the Desperate for Hope Facebook page and the author’s twitters.

Desperate for Hope is available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.  This review was written in exchange for a copy of the book, and expresses my honest opinion of the book. 

Posted in Faith, Family, Five Minute Friday, Grief, Matthew

Five Minute Friday: He is not “HERE”!


start . . . 

As soon as I read this week’s word, Here,  this is the verse I immediately thought of:

He is not here, but is risen!!!
Luke 24:6

I’ve thought of this verse often, when I’ve stood by the graves of my daughter and son.  He/she is not here.  They are in heaven!  And someday, that soil I am standing on will be as I heard Chuck Swindoll say one time, holy ground, for out of those graves will rise new glorified bodies to forever be with Jesus.

My favorite Christian celebration is Easter, including Passover and the pure hope we have because of Jesus death, burial and rising again, the third day.  Death is so hard.  I hate it.  I hate the grief.  I hate the pain of it.  But, yet, there is such beauty in it too, especially for Believers, that the next breath when we die physically is the breath of new life in heaven.

I think of an elderly man dying of cancer, awaiting his death.  And soon, his wife will be able to say, with hope, “he is not here!”  I imagine the ache of saying the temporary good-bye, yet such hope of complete  healing for him.

Can you stand on the soil you may someday be buried in, and with hope know, that others will be able to say of you, “he/she is not here but awaits us in heaven”.  Do you know this hope?  Do your loved ones know this hope?   

Joining Lisa-Jo and her Five Minute Friday.
” five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right “

Posted in Choking Game, Faith, Family, Grief, Matthew

Our Son, Matthew ~ 7 years gone, yet, No Less Days to Sing God’s Praise

“If you know someone who has lost a child, 
and you’re afraid to mention them 
because you think you might make them sad 
by reminding them that they died–
you’re not reminding them. 

They didn’t forget they died. 
What you’re reminding them of is that 
you remembered that they lived, 
and that is a great gift.”

~Elizabeth Edwards~

Blessed with a 16 year loan on earth with him
Now missing him for 7 years
Yet, 7 years closer to heaven

Matthew has “no less days to sing God’s praise,
than when he first began”
and someday we will join him ~ it’s the waiting that is hard . . .
he in heaven and our home here – a temporary separation.
We so miss him – miss his smile, miss his voice,
miss the dreams we had, just plain miss . . .

yet, thankful for Jesus –
thankful for precious memories
thankful for a scrapbook packed full of pictures

thankful for more joy than tears

thankful for hope, grace and new mercies every morning

Please Father ~ give him a hug for me today and
tell him his Mumsie misses him and ooohhh, so loves him.

“We wouldn’t long for Heaven if earth had only joy.”
Amish proverb

Posted in Faith, Family, Grief, Holidays, Matthew

New Traditions ~ New Normals (My guest post . . .)

Today I am guest hosting at Chelsea’s blog, Sharing the Journey, for her series, 25 Days of Christmas Traditions.  Each day someone shares their traditions.  Please click the link below to continue with my full post as we have found New Traditions ~ New Normals.


unday our forever 16 year old son will be gone 7 years.  Matthew died exactly two weeks before Christmas and it changed many Christmas’ afterwards for us. He had bought a tall skinny country type Christmas tree from his workplace and set it up, behind our piano, just days before he died.  It stayed up for several years, making it into a seasonal tree.   Finally we took it down.  It took several years before we put another Christmas tree up.  So many of the Christmas decorations reminded me of his funeral.  Red was his favorite color, so there was lots of red poinsettias and red ribbons and greenery. An evergreen grows by his gravestone.  I knew and know, Christmas is about Jesus and His birthday, but it was very hard celebrating when our hearts were broken.  Slowly finding new normals and new traditions is what has helped us the most . . . to do things a little differently.

New Traditions ~ New Normals
continued here

Posted in Faith, Grief, Meme, One Thousand Gifts

Multitude Monday ~ One Thousand Gifts

705 ~ 710

 The impact Sara,
Gitzen Girl,
has had on the  blogging community.

Despite her being home bound so long
she chose joy 

The wonder of the thin veil between
here and heaven 

Four weeks after their accident,.
one boy who had been critical most of the time
now he and his brother are in the same rehabilitation room together
Praising God for their continued healing!!

another little gift from heaven
our lillac bush just flowered again
~ in the fall ~
the one Matthew transplanted for me
just a few months before he went to heaven

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

John 12:24-25 The Message

Posted in Grief, Meme, One Thousand Gifts

Multitude Monday ~ One Thousand Gifts in the Midst of Sorrow

I could almost repeat last week’s gifts . . .
another death  . . .
a friend, Kristy, was in a car accident with her husband and three children. Her husband died shortly after the accident.  Kristy and two of the children are in serious/stable condition while the oldest child is in critical condition.  Kristy use to babysit for our children.  We’ve known her family close to 20 years.  They’ve gone through many heartaches . . .
and now so many new ones.
and yet, there’s hope without despair.
Please pray for Kristy & her family.

648 ~ 668

music worship service tonight at church – theme – “heaven”
 to have loved
pictures and memories to hold on to
Heaven by Randy Alcorn
neighbors willing to help
friends helping hold her up like those did for Moses
seat belts
airomed helicopters
EMT workers
Good Samaritans at the accident
Facebook walls filling up with love, prayers, concern, encouragements
shock that God allows – to help protect
that our whys will someday be answered
or it won’t matter any more

 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting,
God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along
If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter.
He does our praying in and for us,
making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.

He knows us far better than we know ourselves,
knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.
That’s why we can be so sure that
every detail in our lives of love for God
is worked into something good
Romans 8:26   (Message) (emphasis mine)

FATHER . . .Thank you for holding them . . . us . . . 

Posted in Faith, Family, Grief, In Other Words, Matthew, Meme

In ‘Other’ Words: He is the More

“But this disappointment, those tears,
this heartbreak is God’s gift.
In this quiet empty ache, He enlightens.
By it, He plants and grows within me a certainty
that there must be more.
And that He is the More.”

by Jo at Mylestones


apologize for not putting up the IOW quote earlier. I am hosting this week and was debating on what quote and whether to take a week off or not, since I am still trying to recover from pneumonia.  Then I read what my friend Dana wrote on her Facebook, and it tied together with a quote I had set aside.  I hope it encourages you to visit Dana’s blog and encourage and pray for her.  And,  I hope you can still join in on writing on the above quote.  Please read the full blog post that it is linked from.  It’s worth reading.  

Dana, lost her son,  Mattias, on the anniversary date of our son’s death this past December when a dresser tipped over on him.  Tonight she wrote:

Almost enjoying the stars tonight. I’ve been avoiding them for awhile. They glimmer and shine in all their brilliance, and I seem to hold it all against them and resist those feelings of awe I once had. They seem to be chipping away at the wall tonight, however.

My heart aches for her as I know this first year even followed by the second year, is ohhh so hard.  I still come across math textbooks Matthew made markings in, and the language arts book he shared his heart in such a gripping way, it was as though God allowed him a peak into heaven just weeks before his death.  And I hated getting back into school. My heart hurt too much.  But we needed some normal organization . . . more of a life pattern to keep us going.  In Dana’s blog post for today, she wrote about starting out the new school year  and how it’s aching her heart:

[L]ast week we bought school supplies and amidst the excited squeals of the children over all the new things, all I could think of was how Mattias wasn’t going to be there to bite the tips off the markers, crash his cars into the marker board, and run away with handfulls of letter tiles.

And with Dana, we both know there is more . . . this heartache is temporary and we have the hope that someday we will see Jesus face to face and be reunited with our children with no more good-byes.  God is the More that gets us through, that helps us to get back into school, turning to page one, as she shared, not just to do school, but to teach our children, learn from our children, and most of all, grow with our children.  Healing is a together process.  I look back and see how God did enlighten and help us keep going.  It certainly was not me being strong.  I was very weak – ready to give up many times.  But God kept prodding, telling me to turn the page, to keep going, and find His strength, His mercy, His peace.

He is the More.  And so much more than we can comprehend.

I continue to pray for you Dana – weeping and rejoicing together through life milestones.

Join in on sharing on the above quote and how it touches your life.  Leave a note in the comment section with a link to your blog.  If you have come by just to read, welcome, and visit the other links too!  

Posted in Family, Grief, Imperfect Prose

Imperfect Prose: Remembering Angela Hope


open the memory box, a yearly ritual, a few days earlier this year.  I know the children will be asking to get the box out too, to finger the little whiter-than-snow gown and bonnet, to ask for the memories to be told, again.  But I want some mommy moments alone, remembering the little girl we said hello and goodbye to, nearly 13 years ago.  I still miss . . . and I wonder about her life in heaven.

Soon the children will want the stories, to remember, even the ones born after her, who will also say they miss her.  We will look at the heart box with her feet prints with a few of the letter beads of her name missing. They will ask again if they can touch her soft hair saved in another little heart protecting box. I’ll whisper no, once again.  There’s too few hairs.  We want to keep them.

The children start reading through the hundreds of cards and we remember the many people who cared, loved us, and prayed for us.  They look at all the names signed in the funeral guest book.  So many came and remembered a little girl with us and helped us make memories of which there were to few of.  They ask if we can put in the cassette tape and listen to the service, of our friend Miss Gayle singing children’s melodies and a young pastor speaking his first baby’s funeral.  His theme was imagining her through Psalm 23, welcoming us someday to heaven, and taking us by the still waters and through the green pastures.  I still day dream of that.

They will ask about the little yellow hat that I yanked off of her in the recovery room after my emergency c-section to save my life . . . the placenta abruption quickly took hers.   They will listen intently as I tell them how daddy laid her bundled up in the soft flannel blanket with bunnies on it to me.  But right away I asked why they had the knit yellow hat on her head . . . she did not need to be kept warm.  Off it came.  I wanted to touch her head and feel her fuzzy hair.  I wanted to know the details of her little body I’d have to let go of too soon.

I actually did not remember taking off her hat .  When the funeral director brought us her things the hospital sent with her, I found it.  I called my husband’s mom.  She remembered.  We laughed . . . and I cried later.

They ask again to tell the story of the money in the mailbox . . . the manila envelope that had our name typed on it . . . no address and  no stamps.  Someone just put it in there.  We opened it up and there were ten $100 bills in it.  Our son Matthew, excitedly asked, “What are we going to do with that million dollars?”  Ohhh, it was like a million dollars and it remains a precious bittersweet memory of that son now with her. It allowed my husband to take another week off from work.

We smell the little bottle of make-up the funeral director gave me.  I did not remember how she smelled in the hospital, but after holding her at the funeral home, I smelled her make-up on me.  I cried when I could no longer smell it on that dress.  The kind hearted funeral director did not laugh at my request for a sample of it.  And so we smell her.  The scent triggers tears to come to my eyes.

We talk about her big brother, Matthew, with her and how they spend time together.  We laugh and wonder if he tells her stories of us.

And the children are done and ask if we can make her birthday angel food cake to have that night.  We will sing happy birthday and remember . . . and wonder . . . and laugh about the things she missed out on, from skinned knees to mama combing through her tangled hair or having to do chores.

They will leave the room, chattering with that child-like faith of a precious sister in heaven.   I linger behind putting the pieces of my daughter’s barely used earthly things away.

On Saturday we will celebrate the birth of our precious 13 year old baby, Angela Hope.  We are thankful to have had her, than to not have had her at all on this side of heaven. It’s a bittersweetness, yet have witnessed and know the joy that has come in the morning and He continually reminds,

My grace is sufficient for you,

for my power is made perfect in weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Remembering Angela Hope’s completed life . . .

Remembering with Emily at Imperfect Prose, our imperfect lives, that will someday be made perfect .

Posted in Grief, Matthew, REVIEW

Review: Garden and Memorial Benches


ow that the holidays are almost over, the spring catalogs will be coming in the mail.  Not only do I look forward to planning out our vegetable garden, each year we try to improve our flower gardens and landscaping with adding in more perennials.  I’d love to have a peaceful area where I can sit on a stone garden bench under a shady tree and watch as birds and butterflies come to the birdbaths and birdfeeders.  I can imagine the children sitting on  garden benches too, reading a book.  My daughter who loves to take scenic pictures, I am sure, would take advantage of it as well!

Another place I like to go and sit and remember, is by my son and daughter’s gravesite.  We have talked often of getting a nice memorial bench for the cemetery.  Since our son’s birthday is close to Memorial Day each year we get something to put by their headstones, and one of these years, I hope we do get one. Since my son’s birthday and Memorial Day are in the spring, along with Mother’s Day, stone benches would make ideal gifts for both home and as a memorial piece that would last for many years to come.