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Saturday, December 19, 2009
Thank you Erin....
Thursday, December 3, 2009
To say the least, Thanksgiving was very difficult. Before dinner, we went to the cemetery and decorated a tree for Macie. We put the tree out there not just for us, but for anyone that would like to bring Macie an ornament for Christmas. Even though Thanksgiving was difficult, I am still thankful. I am thankful for my family, my wonderful husband, my healthy children, and my salvation that will allow me to spend eternity with Macie.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18
Monday, November 23, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I watched our story on Fox 2 news (http://www.fox2now.com/videobeta/watch/?watch=430df144-5b5a-4d0c-ab22-4db063a12213&src=front), but I still wasn't prepared to see and hear Macie saying, "Merry Christmas Mommy!" Those are words that I can never hear her say again. I have walked through the last couple of weeks feeling somewhat human again, but in reality, I was just acclimated to the new emotions, and had learned how to function with them. Little by little, new emotions and the realization of the loss become exposed. I believe that God has designed us in such a way that our body only allows bits and pieces of the reality to creep in one at a time. If everything you experience as a grieving parent were to hit you all at once, the body would completely shut down and die. With the holidays approaching, I can feel new layers of the grief being exposed. I dread the next 2 months, but I know with enough prayer and faith, I will survive. I miss my old life so much, but there is an even better life in heaven waiting for me, and that life includes Macie forever!
My flesh and my heart fail me: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
Sunday, November 1, 2009
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and
every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say,"I have overcome him;
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.
It is comforting to know that even people of great faith, like David, struggled too. I know that God is in control and HE does not make mistakes, but it doesn't make the pain go away. I'm constantly crying "WHY?" and "HELP!" I'm praying for the day when all questions will be answered, and there will be no more mourning, weeping, and death. I KNOW that there will be a day with no more tears, but I just want it to be yesterday.
Friday, October 30, 2009
I did manage to dress up the kids and take them trick-or-treating. It wasn't the most enjoyable of circumstances but I survived. I just really wanted to dress Macie up in something cute and watch her run from house to house getting as much candy as she could. Our family has always treated Halloween as another family holiday. We all get together for soup or chili, hang out by a fire, and watch the kids run around dressed up in cute outfits gorging themselves with candy and sweets. Last year was really funny when Macie and her friend Elaina, decided to change their outfits and put on clown make-up. We walked into the bathroom to find her face completely covered in make-up, which turned out to be nail polish!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
We had the strangest thing happen to us the other day.... The past week has been exceptionally tough on all of us, and we are missing Macie more and more each day. Jordan and Kaylee were outside playing when Kaylee looked down and found this tooth. It is Macie's tooth! She lost it last year about this time and dropped it outside. It was absolutely amazing that Kaylee found this after a year of rain, snow, dirt work, landscaping, etc. It was nice to get a little piece of Macie-even if it is only her tooth.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I'm tired of this new life. I'm tired of crying. I'm tired of feeling nauseous. I'm tired of feeling scared. I'm tired of not sleeping. I'm tired of waking up to this reality everyday. I'm tired of visiting a cemetery for days that should be celebrations. I'm tired of replaying the accident. I'm tired of the aching arms. I'm tired of my dirty house. I'm tired of not being focused. I'm tired of thinking the kids are hurt or worse anytime they yell mom. I'm tired of my to-do list. I'm tired of not knowing what a marriage should feel like anymore. I'm tired of comforting others and telling them that it will be OK when all I want to do is scream! I'm tired of people that flinch when I speak my daughter's name. I'm tired of seeing other mothers getting annoyed with their children when I'm out shopping. I'm tired of other people that are able to move on with their life. I'm tired of people thinking that the accident was more than a year ago. I'm tired of other people that just don't or can't understand. I'm tired of feeling guilty when I feel decent one day. I'm tired of Jordan, Kaylee, and Carter's hearts hurting and not being able to make it better. I'm tired of asking why? I'm tired of wondering why me? I'm tired of being tired. And I'm tired of realizing that I need to do this for the rest of my life!
Thankfully, we have a LORD that says-come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
Friday, September 25, 2009
We are homeschooling the kiddos this year, and it has been a wonderful change. It is definitely a different way of life, and I am so happy about our decision. There was a lot of concern from well-meaning individuals about our decision, because they thought we were homeschooling because of the accident. Truth be told, Ryan and I had already decided that 2008-2009 would be our last year of public school. We had already purchased all the curriculum and had the entire 2009-2010 school year scheduled and planned out. We just did not tell everyone of our decision yet. We are friends with other families that homeschool and we felt that it was something that we were called to do. We pulled the kids out of school right after the accident. It only seemed natural to have them home where we could all grieve together.
The kids have gotten into the swing of things and are learning everyday! I never knew how rewarding it would be to watch your son learn his division facts or to watch your daughter learn to read. It is wonderful knowing that they are learning these things from their parents. I get to watch them learn these things rather than it happening at school. It's just as exciting as watching a toddler learning to walk and talk.
I also have the peace of knowing that I am spending enough time with them. I don't have to feel guilty when I am working during an evening, or that the kids are gone from the house too much doing extra curricular activities. I always hated the nights when I would pick them up from school, bring them home, do homework, feed them, and drop someone off at a lesson. It was even worse when I would leave for the evening to teach. Family life just should not be that way! Not only do the kids have more time at home, they have more quality time with friends. During the school year, our lives were so busy that there was hardly anytime for friends outside of school and evening activities. The kids now get together with their other homeschooled friends twice during the week for skating, playing at the park, and field trips! The only thing missing is MACIE.
Every morning, we notice the empty chair that she should be in. She was really excited about being home for school. I had planned on teaching her at the same level as Jordan. She was (is) so bright! She wouldn't have had any trouble keeping up with Jordan. Every time we do a new lesson, I picture Macie sitting there, trying to get done faster than everyone else. I do get little reminders that she is still with us. Twice, while doing school outside, I looked down and found a 4 leaf clover. One time, it seemed like an audible voice telling me to look down. These just remind me that I still have, and WILL always have, 4 children!
Jordan and Kaylee hanging birdseed feeders at the cemetery for Macie. The kids made these as an art project for the week.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Macie's birthday (the entire month really) was very difficult. I can't even begin to describe how it feels to wake up knowing it is your daughter's birthday, but she isn't there. It is absolutely horrible and heart wrenching. As her mother, I really wanted to honor her, so we held a celebration of her life at the cemetery. I didn't get a count of people, but it was estimated that at least 75 people, maybe more, came out to remember Macie. It was heartwarming to see how many people still think of her and our family. We asked everyone to bring a helium balloon with a special message to Macie on it. We had prayer, sang "Happy Birthday," and released dozens of balloons (my apologies to all the environmentalists out there). My balloon and Ryan's got stuck in a nearby tree and they are still there. You can see them every time we visit. I guess some of them were just meant to be left behind. We then released 8 doves to symbolize her 8th birthday. God even sent us a rainbow called a sun halo. It kept peaking through the clouds, although I don't think everyone noticed it. I know it is God promising us that everything will be fine, and that she is safe in his arms. The day was both horrible and beautiful at the same time.
The week after her birthday, brought yet another mess of emotions. I had to finally get myself organized and prepared to return back to work. The thought of leaving the kids was enough to make me ill. I was dreading the idea of standing in front of 90 students and explaining what I am going through. I just didn't think I would be focused and prepared enough to start teaching again. Fortunately, I was wrong. I made it through my first week of classes and it actually brought a much needed distraction (although the thoughts and images never leave my mind). However, I did break down while driving home after my first evening class. I realized that the last time I was in a classroom, was the day she died, and images of finding her kept flashing in my mind. I'm prepared for this to happen occasionally, but I'm relieved to know that I am able to communicate with my students and focus on my work in the midst of all the emotions. I guess its just another form of multi-tasking-something I've always been good at. God gives you the strength you need, when you need it!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Macie's heastone arrived before her birthday. Although it is beautiful, it is not fair that we had to pick this out for our daughter. No parent should ever need to purchase a headstone for their child. Macie loved sunflowers, and we were able to find a stone with carved sunflowers on the side of it. The stone is a blueish-purple color. Very pretty-I think Macie would approve of our choice. We had some ceramic photos made for the front and back of the headstone. We also purchased an angel statue that is holding a kitten since she loved her cats so much.
This is front view of the stone
This is the back view
This is the back photo, and yes, both pictures are of Macie. Everyone thinks that the one picture is Kaylee. Ryan even asked me why I didn't add the boys too. The girls were really starting to look alike. The background is from one of her paintings.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Besides the funeral, we are also dealing with some extended family disagreements, a conflict with a neighbor, and to top it all off, Macie's headstone still hasn't been delivered and set up. A dear relative told us to look at these circumstances as God given distractions. These trials force us to take some of the focus off the intense pain and direct it elsewhere. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how distracted I will be with Maice's birthday approaching. August 10th should be her 8th birthday. Please keep our family in your prayers as we approach another difficult day.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Back to the trip...It was very relaxing and enjoyable. The kids had an absolute blast. It was refreshing to watch them smile all the time. We spent most of the time at the lake where Ryan's family camps during the summer. The weather was a lot colder than we expected, but the kids didn't mind. We still went out on the boat, and the kids even went tubing. It seems like Kaylee is trying to fill the role of the dare-devil now. She loved tubing and wanted to go faster, but Jordan wanted to go slower. The hardest part of the trip was watching the fireworks. Macie loved fireworks and the 4th of July (it was one of her favorite holidays). The day before we left, we went to Grand Haven to show the kids Lake Michigan and watch the sunset (too bad we missed it when we were looking down, cleaning the sand off of the kids feet). Kaylee was really cute; she had to pack some sand to take to Macie. She put together a little jar of sand and shells for the cemetery. Ryan and I felt guilty most of the trip being so far away from her body- I know that seems silly, but we both had this urge to be at the cemetery. We know that she was in our hearts everywhere we went, but we still felt like we were leaving her behind.
On our way home, we went to Chicago to take the kids to Shedd's Aquarium. They were having fun, but we were all ready to get back home. As we were leaving, I took some pictures of the skyline. There were rays of sun peaking out of the clouds, and it was beautiful. Macie always called them "Jesus clouds."
We were so glad to finally be home, but the knot in my stomach returned. Being surrounded by all of her things and pictures again, brought back the reality that this is permanent (at least on this side of eternity). So here we are now, continuing to walk in faith everyday.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Sunday was father's day, and we made it through another holiday. We had additional reasons to celebrate. Kaylee, my sister, my parents, and in-laws were all baptized that day!!! It was hard not having Macie to celebrate with us. However, our spirits were lifted, when we saw my father and father-in-law, walk out of the dressing room with robes on that were entirely too short! We were all laughing at them and had to find longer robes! I thought about posting the picture (with the robes above their knees), but I think we have tortured them enough. I did include the pictures of the rest of the family. It turned out to be a good day.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
A few hours later, I received a phone call from a woman that I have never met. She told me that she felt compelled to bring me something and asked if it would be OK for her to stop by. Of course I said, "yes" and gave her my address. She dropped off some beautiful flowers and a letter. The letter was amazing and completely changed my attitude. I asked permission to post her letter, but I am leaving the name off. It is amazing how quickly God answered my prayer today. Here is a copy of what she wrote:
First of all, I am sorry for your great loss. I saw a picture of Macie in the newspaper. I am certain that her smile lit up your world. She seemed to be so full of joy. As I looked at her eyes, I did not see any hidden pain, just a carefree happiness. I feel compelled by the Holy Spirit to tell you that this little girl, your daughter, lived with such a vivacious anointing of life, until she literally touched everyone she came into contact with. She fulfilled the purpose and glory that God created her for.
There is a special bond between a mother and her children. The love is so deep, it is almost indescribable. But, yet, there is Jesus, who loves her beyond human comprehension. After all, He is the one who sent that little bundle of joy into your life, your family, and many others. Some may be of the opinion that she had not yet begun to live. But live, indeed, she did. She lived each day as if there was no tomorrow; full of laughter, love, and life. She is a wonderful example of how Christ desires each of His children to live until we are called home. Her heavenly Father saw fit to spare her the heartaches that sometimes attend life. You and your family have been divinely blessed to have loved, nurtured, and shared with someone as special and unique as Macie.
Let there be no regrets. You have done everything that Christ desired of you to do as a mother to Macie. You loved her wholeheartedly. How complete is that? That is why she was so happy; because she knew that she was loved completely by you and your family. I hope knowing this will bring you some comfort in these difficult times. I pray that Christ will heal you and your family's unbelievable pain. Please know that God is in control and He does not make mistakes.
Is that not incredible? Who am I, that God would bless me like that through a complete stranger? I am very humbled by this, and my faith has been strengthened through this encounter. The bible says that God will never leave us or forsake us! I know that there are some of you that read this blog that do not have faith or understand. I also know that you probably think all this Holy Spirit and Jesus "talk" just seems crazy or weird. Don't worry, it doesn't offend me. Ryan and I used to think that "church people" were nuts. We just didn't understand how someone was "saved" or "born again" until it happened to us. It is my most sincere prayer, that everyone that reads these words will understand that personal relationship with Jesus, that Ryan and I now have. Of course, many of you know, that we didn't always have that faith or live like it. We promise, that it was the most important and gratifying decision we have ever made! There is a book called, The Case for Faith, by Lee Stobel; I believe everyone should read it if they are wondering if all this "faith stuff" is real. Trust us, it is real! We feel it everyday, and it is helping us survive the most devastating storm we could ever face.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
On Friday, May 29th, some friends from church performed a benefit concert to celebrate Macie's life. The band was phenomenal and they did a beautiful job of honoring our daughter. I wish I had a couple of pictures, but I didn't think to take my camera. It was a wonderful evening with all our loved ones. We can't thank the band enough! (sorry-still leaving names out for privacy). Some of the proceeds were put aside to start the foundation we are planning in Macie's name.
The last couple of weeks have been very difficult. Ryan is working midnights and we have spent very little time with him. When he is gone, I have the house on lock-down and all the kids sleep with me. I have actually preferred this sleeping arrangement the last two months. For any of you that know me, this out of the ordinary. Our children always knew when bedtime was, and they were in their own beds without any protest (of course there was always the "5:00am sneak into the bedroom"-but that was OK as long as they went to bed like big kids and gave mommy and daddy some much needed time alone). But now everything has changed! Carter will still go to bed just fine, but Kaylee and Jordan are having a much harder time falling asleep. I just don't have the heart to make them go to their bedrooms alone. I know how bad my mind wanders when I'm alone, and I don't want them to go through the loneliness and fear that is felt when all is quite.
Ryan has been suffering from anxiety in the middle of the night, especially when he is driving home as the sun comes up. The finality of the loss has settled in, and it occasionally comes and hits you so hard that it takes your breath away-literally! We just can't believe that she is gone. We can't smell her, feel her, hear her (you could always hear Macie-she was SO loud), or hold her ever again in this life. My arms just feel so empty.
Wednesday would have been the last day of school. This is always our favorite day! I am always just as excited as the kids about the end of the school year-no more rushing around in the mornings and being away from each other. But yesterday didn't feel that way. Instead, I am hit with the realization that I need to go through the summer without Macie. She won't be in the pool, or at Six Flags, or helping me in the garden, or sleeping in, or even celebrating her birthday. It just plain sucks!!!!! I unpacked the kids swimsuits and just held and stared at hers for a long time. She absolutely loved swimming, and it just isn't fair that she won't be here with us. I took Kaylee to school on Tuesday for their yearly Ocean Olympics. When Kaylee's class went to the large inflatable water slides, Macie's class was there too. Out of around 20 classes, Macie's class just had to be the one sharing the slides with Kaylee's class. The girls would have been so excited to slide together, but of course that wasn't the case. I had to watch all of her friends having fun without her. It was a very hard moment.
Now that summer has approached, Kaylee has moved up to level 3 team gymnastics at the YMCA. She now practices with the other team girls, and she is supposed to be practicing with her sister. I am proud of Kaylee and enjoy watching her, but Macie should be there too. The two of them should be bouncing around the gym floor and laughing. I look out and see Macie's teammates just feet away from Kaylee, and it breaks my heart. I'm glad that Kaylee is into gymnastics like her sister, but it is bittersweet.