Posted in Family, Matthew, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday ~ In Memory of our Son

Posted in Choking Game, Family, Grief, Matthew

Heartbreaking – Choking Game Kills Yet Another

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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, Matthew, Meme

31 Days: “Woman, Just Believe Me” ~ “I am with you through the storm” {Day 29}

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he above is a picture on our wall, near where our son died.  I’ve been thinking of all those going through different storms, especially, right now with those going through Hurricane Sandy.  If you can count any of it good, the people in the eye of the storm have been warned, and could take cover and be prepared with food, water, blankets, candles, etc.

But many storms come in the dark with no warning, like a tornado, and spin us around and dump us in a fog, bewildered of what direction to go.   Having God’s word in our hearts can certainly help light the way in those dark days.  During our storm, one of my favorite verses was Isaiah 43:2

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.

Woman,
believe Me.

John 4:21

Posted in Faith, Matthew, Writings & Poems

Five Minute Friday & 31 Days: “VOICE” {Day 26}

VOICE

start . . . 

I do not know why, but as soon as I read Friday’s word, voice, the words from an older praise song, My Tribute, which is one of my very favorites,  popped into my mind:  

How can I say thanks
For the things you have done for me
Things so undeserved
Yet You gave to prove your love for me
The 
voices
 of a million angels
Could not express my gratitude
All that I am and ever hope to be
I owe it all to thee

To God be the glory,
to God be the glory

To God be the glory,
For the things He has done
With His blood He has saved me

With His power He has raised me
To God be the glory,
For the things He has done

With Thanksgiving coming, and the continued counting of gifts and blessings, isn’t this the perfect song?  I wish I’d hear it more!

And just picking out that word, voice – imagine, someday we will hear millions of voices, singing praises to God!  I do not think we can come anywhere near comprehending that glorious sound!  And yet, the voice that our souls all long to hear is His voice!  Oh to hear Jesus’ voice say,Well done, good and faithful servant!”  Yet, we can hear His voice, if we only, be still and and listen for that still small voice.  

So what might God be telling us?

 Be still.
Listen for My voice.
I have much to tell you.
Much to calm you with.

“Woman, Just Believe Me”

Combining two meme’s today –
31 Days for this month and
Joining Lisa-Jo and her Five Minute Friday.
” five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right “

Posted in Choking Game, Matthew, Meme

31 Days: “Woman, Just Believe Me” ~ “Healing through weeping” {Day 11}

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arlier today I wrote a post regarding today being Worldwide Choking Game Awareness Day We have gone through the death of a 16 year old son to the choking game, nearly 8 years ago.  I know some would prefer I sweep what happened, under the rug.  Some wanted “hushed” what happened to our family.  I am sure some think since it’s been almost eight years, we should be over this, and forget about “it” and go on.  My heart is not nearly grieved as it was even four years ago.  But, healing takes place with being able to share with others, especially those just beginning a grief journey after the loss of a child.  

Mr. John Ortberg wrote in his book, The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You  (e-book still free at time of this post) the following:

One man I know is both an extrovert and a deep feeler.  He is in the flow of the Spirit best when he is neck-deep in the soul struggles of another human being.  Ironically even though he is trying to help someone else, it is in those moments when his own soul is healed.

It was so good for me to read this . . .  because I find myself gravitating often, to hurting people, especially moms who have gone through the death of a child.  I’ve been asked often why I let myself go through it – because it’s painful, but it’s painfully healing too.   Several could not understand why I sat with my dear friend Hannah when her baby took his last breath – holding him with her.  It was such a bittersweet time – it was a gift she gave me that I never had with my stillborn daughter.  

The same with my son that died.  Today a gal wrote on Facebook after seeing someone else share my blog post:

I remember the family, and hearing about Matthew’s death. I can hardly believe 8 years has passed. Not long after it happened, my eldest came home from high school to tell me about a new ‘game’ they were playing – it involved wrapping your arms tightly around a person’s upper arms, lifting them up and squeezing until they passed out. I sat down and told him about Matthew. He never did it again, he told his friends about it and they never did it again either. So Matthew’s life has made a difference down here in South Australia too xxx

I’ve heard this many times over.  Though I miss Matthew terribly, especially around holidays, birthdays, special celebrations and when I look at family pictures that do not seem complete, my heart can rejoice  and continue healing, when I know, for eternities sake, his death has and will continue to, make a difference.  

So, what could God be telling us to believe? 

Weep with those that weep . . . 
this is what will help you heal.
And later, you can more easily
rejoice with those that rejoice.
Joy will come again –
though the night may be long.
You can come forth as gold,
going through this trial.

Woman, just believe Me.

Above pencil drawing by my 12 year old daughter.

Posted in Choking Game, Matthew

Worldwide Choking Game Awareness 10-11-12

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oday, 10-11-12, is Worldwide Choking Game Awareness day. I wish I could give you the warnings of it, without personal experience.  I wish I knew about it eight years ago, would have known the signs, so it would have prevented the death of our 16 year old son, Matthew.  I wish I did not see my son’s name on a gravestone.  Our “9-11” devastated us on 12-11-04, nearly 8 years ago.

There is much I could write about of Matthew and the changes it has made in our lives – the gaps in pictures, missing him at two weddings so far, the pictures that do not age beyond 16 for him, and finding our “new normal”.  But I know he’d want me to share about the choking game – that it does kill, even the first time, even with “precautions”.  I’ve learned through the years that it seems to take the “good kids” the ones that would never do drugs . . . because it seems harmless and won’t hurt anyone.  I’ve made new friends I wish I had not have . . . we  share a bond of moms who have lost children to this game that there is no winners in.  I know several Christian families, even pastor’s families, who have  children die from playing this.  

Before Matthew died, we had never heard of it.  Suicide did not make sense.  And then the pieces came together, and coroner’s office confirmed his death to this.  We may never know fully where he learned it from, but we have learned, most kids in junior high and highschool are very aware are of it – play it at school, on buses, at parties, many first with someone, then alone.  

If you happen to be a kid or someone who is doing this and reading this, please know that this will affect your entire family and friends, forever when this takes your life.  It will hurt many, from the person who finds you to the area that has to be dramatically changed. Parents will blame themselves with the “what ifs”.  Siblings will wish they had not said things to you before.  Friends will wish they had told someone you were doing this.  And then the family has years of grieving to go through, all the firsts, seconds, and continual birthdays and death day remembrances.  It’s not a game.

I am thankful that I know where Matthew is, in heaven, with his Savior.  Yes, he did  a stupid thing  (don’t we all?), yet he made the smartest decision of his life when he was a young boy, asking Jesus to be in his life.  He loved the Lord, and shared Him with others.  I believe Satan knew he could be a godly leader, and he wanted to prevent him from to telling others of Jesus.  There’s continual temptations in our lives and he succumbed to it.    I know despite his earthly death, he lives forever in heaven, and we will be reunited again, for, forever.  For now, there are tears and we miss him always. Someday our tears will be completely wiped away.  

Parents . . . please talk to your children . . . they probably know about this game already.  Please share with them that kid’s do die.  Show them our son’s memorial page.  The reason the date, 10-11-12, was picked for awareness, is because it represents the age range when most children learn of the game.

Kid’s . . . this is a killer game.  Tell your friends to stop; tell someone of authority if you know someone is doing this.  You may save their life.   Please do not let your parents have to bury you because of this game.

Choking Game
Awareness Websites
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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,

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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”!

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 Five Minute Friday, Matthew

Five Minute Friday: Color ~ His favorite color ~ RED

COLOR

start . . . 

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is favorite color was red,  and around this time of year, it especially stands out.  Sunday will be 7 years he’s been in heaven . . . seven years of still missing . . . and always thankful for the 16 years we were blessed with the gift of Matthew‘s life.  We have special reminders of him . . .

Red ribbons, red M & Ms and Skittles (his favorite candy)
Red candles
Red mushrooms I discovered by his gravestone this year
along with the red cardinal
His new red Bible he wanted for Christmas
it was buried with him instead
as well as the new red shirt he wore
and the red roses we let go as his shell was lowered to the ground

His red moped still parked in the barn
the picture we treasure of the red and white candy cane
he gave his sister in the hospital

Red balloons floating to the heavens on his first birthday with Jesus

Red ribbons and red glittering balls on our Christmas tree
Fading red poinsettias, but not our memories of him

My beating red heart ~ still healing

Gifts wrapped in red
a reminder of the gift of red blood Jesus shed
so we may live forever in heaven
and be reunited with our loved ones.

Joining Gypsy Mama and her Five Minute Friday.

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.

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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, 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

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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, Matthew

A gift from heaven ~ red mushrooms

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here just has not been much time this week to write with all the goings on preparing for our son’s wedding.  Our son who has been working at camp is home for the week and our other sons’ girlfriend is just getting back from France.  Personal shower was a few days ago and a lot of fun! Nails have been done for the twins and myself.  I still can’t decide for sure what to wear.  The vacuum broke today, of all days.  The place we are having the rehearsal dinner at does not decorate at all – they don’t even have vases or candy dishes we can use, so I’ve rounded those up!  Tuxes are in our closest for our boys and my husband.  I can’t wait to get our little guy ready as ring bearer!  And our daughter-to-be is so giddy and squeaks often in delight!  

The first time I found the mushrooms was near dusk, and they were a deep red. Only one shows in this picture.

Along with the wedding expectations and delights there is the bitter-sweetness missing two young men who should be standing by my son; one a lifetime friend of Stephen’s and also Stephen’s brother, Matthew, in heaven.  The other day I stopped by the cemetery. Matthew’s favorite color was red.  I think it still is.  Right by his gravestone two red mushrooms were growing! I never knew there was even such a thing!  I think a gift was sent to us as maybe God allowed the veil to be pulled away, giving him a glimpse of our happiness and he just wanted us to know he is a part of it too. The bitter-sweetness is a little sweeter.  

We so rejoice to celebrate a new family to begin and their future!  Can’t wait!  

Posted in Family, Matthew, Meme

Five Minute Friday: Wonder

Wonder . . .

start . . . 

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s soon as I read this weeks word,  I immediately thought of Point of Grace’s song, The Wonder of It All.  The chorus goes like this:

Feel the wonder of it all
Let your heart and your mind receive
The answer to the call
Feel the wonder of it all
Sweet Jesus
The love of God
The wonder of it all

And I wonder, how often do we pause to consider the wonder of it all.  Do we forget the firsts . . . when we first began to understand God’s love, when we accepted Him into our loves, when we first realized the agony and death He went through for us.  

Do we stop at the wonder of a hummingbird returning to our feeder or deer grazing in the nearby field.  Do we remember the wonder when reconciled hearts come together or do we forget and don’t think it can happen again.  Oh the wonder of a newborn baby and his first cry.   My wonder shaking the surgeon’s hands that held and fixed my daughter’s broken heart, knowing many prayed for those hands and her heart.  

And close to my heart often is the wonder and awe when our 16 year old son beheld Jesus face to face and reunited with his baby sister. How long did it take him to get off his knees?  Did he swing his sister around?  Ohhh, the wonder of it all!

With our son’s wedding just a little over a week away, there is the wonder of the future and all it holds. The wonder two lives becoming one and the wonder of the groom waiting for his bride as we see the picture again of our wonder in waiting for Jesus to return.  The wonder remembering that first love and renewing it. New joys to look forward to, including  the wonder and anticipation I hold in my heart when when someday our first grandchild is placed in our arms. 

And through the wonder of it all, my Heavenly Father is:

. . . before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:17

finish  . . . 

Joining Gypsy Mama and her Five Minute Friday.
Writing above done in five minutes.
Font, chorus, Bible verse & link done afterwards

Posted in Faith, Family, Matthew, Meme

One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Farm

” Farm “

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grew up in a nice suburb near Milwaukee.  There was not much farmland around us, but instead many subdivisions and the local schools and of course, malls and grocery stores.  One highlight of each year or two, was taking the couple hour trip to a cousin’s who lived on a farm.  It was just a totally different atmosphere, from the smells to the tasting raw milk.  I enjoyed watching my cousin, just a few years older than I, use his mini-bike to round up the cows.  Despite the busyness of a farm, life seemed slower than back home. Yet, it was definitely hard, regimented work.  

I have wonderful memories of taking our young children to this farm too many years ago  . . .  for my husband to get a glimpse of some good childhood memories and to meet extended family, and then my husband helping my cousin round up the cows, also on a mini bike.

When my husband and I were first married, we lived in the city, but about 18 years ago we moved to the country with a few acres and slowly began a hobby farm, building a goat barn and chicken coop.  We’ve raised rabbits, goats, sheep, LOTS of chickens, and a few ducks and turkeys as well.  It’s not necessarily saved us money doing this, but has taught our children responsibility.  They’ve learned to trim goat’s hooves, milk them, and yes, I even delivered a stuck kid goat.  We’ve chased after baby lambs over the country side who really are dumb animals and really do go astray very fast!  We’ve marveled over how large eggs from the store are quite small compared to our chicken’s eggs and that yolks of “real” fresh eggs are almost orange!

Along with the farm animals we’ve done some gardening.  We’ve done research on organic gardening, hybrid seeds vs. heirloom seeds and square foot gardening vs. large garden plots.  We have a small greenhouse beginning many of our own seeds this year, which have yet to be planted in the garden.

Farming for us has been a learning adventure, and has worked well for our homeschooling education as well.

Joining the Farm Blog Carnival.