Posted in Five Minute Friday, Matthew

Five Minute Friday: Color ~ His favorite color ~ RED


start . . . 


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.


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 In Other Words

In ‘Other’ Words: Prayer Carrying Us Through

 “ And why should the good of anyone
depend on the prayer of another?
I can only answer with the return question.
‘Why should my love be powerless to help another?’ ” 

~ George MacDonald


just mentioned in a previous post, that this Friday will be 1 month before the 7th year anniversary date of our son, Matthew’s death.  I often think during this last month, what he did the last month he was a alive, our last Thanksgiving with him, hunting with his older brother and getting lost in the woods, playing monopoly with his siblings a few days before and the things we took for granted.  But then the days that followed his death . . .  the many months that dragged to a year . . . of the dark cloud over our family as we stumbled to find our new normal.  So many people meant well, but some said the dumbest things, from “are you over it yet, are you better, at least you have 9 other kids“, etc.  Those comments and even Scripture verses given to us, did not always ease the pain of losing a child.

But often it was someone say, “I don’t know what to say, but I am praying, I care.” Or getting a note, e-mail or someone calling and saying “I woke up in the middle of the night and thought of you, and prayed.” It was probably one of those long nights I dreaded going to sleep, his death was the last thing on my mind, and then again, the first thing on my mind after a few hours of sleep.  

So, I think of all those that carried us through with prayer . . . whose love was not powerless as you lifted us up to God so often . . . and I know some still do, as they know, we will never “get over” the loss of our son.  We were very dependent on prayers, as often the pain was so deep, we had no words even for God.  The Spirit knew and He used others in our lives to go to God for us.  No, the pain does not sting as much, but we still miss.  We were blessed with many who cried with us, remembered with us, and yes, most of all prayed with us and for us.  It’s taught me to remember the simple words that help carry us and to pass on to others that also need to be carried, in prayer.

 This week’s In ‘Other’ Words is hosted  by our new hostess, Cynthia on her blog, Great Brain Ideas. Please join visit her blog to read her thoughts
and others on the above quote. 

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 Choking Game, Family, Matthew, Writings & Poems

Meet my friend – who I wish wasn’t my friend

I would like to introduce you to my new friend,  Bobbi Jo.  You need to meet her.  Your children need to meet her.  Your school principal and family doctor need to meet her.  Your next door neighbor needs to meet her.   Yet, I still wish she was not my new friend.  We have a common bond, I so wish neither of us have.  But, if you don’t meet her, you or someone you care about dearly may have to join the same club we are in.  You do not want to join our club.  This club should not even exist.  Our club does not display pictures of ourselves.  It displays pictures of teenagers and young children who died playing a game.  But, it’s really not a game.  How can you call it a game if it kills?  It’s the choking game.  Her son, Kris, only 15 years old, died barely 5 weeks ago. Bobbi Jo is just one of numerous moms I’ve met in the last four years.  She is just the newest member in our club.

Tomorrow will be four years our son, Matthew,  died in an accident in our home.  I’d like to skip over the “accident” which some would like me to refer to it as.    I really don’t want our son remembered for only how he died. cheesecakeI want him remembered for his love for Jesus, for the cheese cakes he made  from scratch for my pregnancy cravings.  I want him remembered for sharing Jesus with an elderly man he wanted to make sure would go to  heaven and the Christian faith rings he wore, hoping others would ask him what they meant.   But, I cannot skip over his death.  I will when I don’t read of more deaths like his.  I will when the awareness is there just like it is about drugs, sex and drinking.  Our son did something dumb, like many kids (and adults) do.  This choking game took his life. This game is also known as “Blackout, Fainting Game, Space Monkey, Dream Game, Suffocation, Roulette, Passout, Flatliner, California High, Airplaning, Space Monkey, American Dream, Funky Chicken, Tingling, Gasp.” (info from G.A.S.P – Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play)

On WKOW 2, Madison, Wisconsin’s TV station website, it states facts all parents need to know:

  • It’s a game that kills anywhere from 250 to 1000 people each year around the world. [I believe the reason there is such a variable in how many is because many deaths are ruled suicide rather than from the choking game]
  • In a recent survey of kids in the US, 75 percent said they’re familiar with the choking game.
  • Deputy Holmes says the choking game is often referred to as the good kids game, because the kids who play it, are not necessarily the kids you would associate with risky behaviors like doing drugs and drinking alcohol.

Though my heart does not ache as it did four years ago, brokenheartMatthew’s death is still like an amputation that will always sting, the wound reopening, and his absence visible to those that loved him.   Please talk to your kids. If you homeschool, it does not mean that your kids won’t learn of this.  Talk to your kid’s friend’s parents.  Bring awareness of this to your school principal, to your pastor, your youth leaders, boy scouts, camp directors, etc. We thought we had our kids sheltered, but evilness still sneeks in.

Please don’t feel sorry for me, and tell me I am strong. Instead, share with the people you love, then tell me that a life was saved because of Matthew’s death.  Tell me another soul has a chance to come to know Jesus because he/she stopped this game.  Tell me, so on our cloudy days when our hearts weep again I am reminded that, It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus“.

To learn how to get involved with sharing about the deadly choking game with your family and community, please visit G.A.S.P – Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play.

♥   ~ ♥   ~

In Memory of our Son ~ Matthew’s Story

♥   ~ ♥   ~

Posted in Books, Choking Game, Faith, Family, Religion

Book Review: Life After the Death of My Son: What I am Learning

I t did not strike me right away at church on Sunday.  The Christmas decorations were all up.  Our baby kept pointing to the hanging glass ornaments in the foyer, saying “ball”, “ball”.  It was not until  we started singing a song that it came bitter sweetly back into my mind. Many of the decorations surrounding us were the same ones decorating our church four years ago ~ at our son’s funeral service.

But, it’s easing.  It did not hit quite as hard or as fast this year.  We still aren’t sure about putting a Christmas tree up.  Matthew put our last one up.  We have our advent tree up.  We will do what we can.  We don’t want our living room to feel like a funeral again.

dennisapplebookI thought possibly we were the only ones who felt this, until I read  Life After the Death of My Son:  What I am Learning. It was as though the author, Dennis Apple was writing a book on our emotions, our pain, and our unknown grief that those around us could not see, or did not want to see.  The author and his wife Beulah, lost their 18 year old son, Denny to an unexplained illness that quickly took his life.  In this journey through the shadow of death these past four years, we have often found others asking in a round about way are you  “over” Matthew? No one never get over the death of a child.

I thought our grieving was  too long – maybe our faith was not strong enough.  But, you’d think a Pastor and his wife’s faith would be much stronger?  Dennis Apple is a pastor.  In reading his book and hearing him on a broadcast, it took him and his wife nearly five Christmas’s before it was “happy”.  And it was a decision they had to make – a conscience effort to make it happy.  My husband and I have said the same thing especially this past year.  We have to work on making happy memories – and it’s been worth it.  Joy does come again – but sometimes it takes an effort to make that joy become alive.

I could quote chapter by chapter everything that touched me in Life After the Death of My Son:  What I am Learning, starting right out with the first chapter, “Will It Always Hurt This Much” with following chapters titled, “Will Our Marriage Survive This?“, “Am I Losing My Mind?“, “Where is God?“, “I Don’t Want Him Forgotten“, and five more chapters following.  This book is filled with promises of God’s faithfulness, but also of a man’s weakness, anger and questioning God, and frustrations with family and friends.  He is honest and profoundly open.

Dennis Apple was recently interviewed on FamilyLife Radio with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine.  It was a three day show, and it was quite powerful.  I will have all the links to the three days below where you can either listen to it or read the transcripts of it. Dennis Rainey made a comment on the first day of the interview I find so true:  “. . . the Christian community does not know how to relate to someone who is going through this level of grief. It is beyond imagination, but the Holy Spirit knows how to relate to an individual.” I believe with books such as this, it can open doors to hurting people, if we as Christians would reach out with understanding and care.  What hope we can give.

Though this book greatly encouraged me reading of another couple who walked so much of the same road we have, I believe that Life After the Death of My Son:  What I am Learning is just as important for everyday Christian believers to read – to understand grief is not over the first year, that there will always be scars in our hearts, and that yes, we want you to mention our loved ones name.  And, if you know someone who has gone through the deep grief of losing a child, whether it be this past year or ten years ago, I invite you to give them a copy of this book (maybe after you have read it) and share together.  I believe it’s a book that should be in every church library, read by pastors, counselors, teachers, etc.

This Thursday, December 11th will mark our “9/11” as Dennis Apple also calls the death of  his child.  I will be sharing more  this week on Matthew,  the choking game, and the hope and peace we have .  I can truly rejoice again that one of Matthew’s favorite songs that is also partly inscripted on his gravestone from “I Can Only Imagine” is not imagined by him.  He truly is forever surrounded by God’s glory, forever praising Him.  For now, it’s us left behind, still  imagining, still wiping remaining tears away.

You can listen to the broadcast or read the transcripts with Dennis Apple on FamilyLife Radio:

You can find the book on Amazon: Life After the Death of My Son:  What I am Learning

Posted in Uncategorized

♥ Remembering & Missing Matthew on His 20th Birthday ♥


ot a day passes without something reminding us of you – a glimpse of you in one of your siblings, finding one of your treasures on earth, mail still coming with your name on it or the brilliance of the color of red, your favorite colour.  We made bittersweet memories on Monday, as we planted red impatients at your gravestone, and your baby brother you’ve never met, tried digging in the soil to “help”.  One of your siblings said, “This is the closest Nathan has been to Matthew“.  Someday he will know you too.  Though we wonder about the “what ifs” your days were still numbered by God.  How blessed we were to have you for 16 years.  And yet, how much more blessed we are with the assurance that you accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, we will meet you again, and all our tears will forever be wiped away.  Until then, we will miss you, remember you and always share about you.

Forever with love,
Your Mumsie
(affectionate name only Matthew called me)

Matthew Norman
          May 28, 1988 ~ ♥ ~ Precious Memories ~ ♥ ~ December 11, 2006