July 30, 2018

Two Years...How Is That Possible?

How is it possible that two years ago today Daron left this earth and entered Heaven? It still feels like it was yesterday at times. This year the tears come at the small things. The tears come when Taylor reaches a milestone and Daron isn't here. The tears come when something happens and I want to tell Daron about it but can't. The tears come when something simple reminds me of Daron. The tears come when I least expect them. It really is hard to explain exactly how I feel today. I just miss everything about my husband. I will sit with grief today and let the memories and tears flow knowing that it's all part of the grief journey. I will also sit with God and let Him comfort me today. I still can't wrap my head around the fact that two years have passed, but I am so thankful for the many years I had with Daron. 

June 15, 2018

Summer Break Is Here At Last!

Well, we made it through another school year. Taylor is now a high schooler and will be jumping right into high school marching band at the end of July. I am not done and I am okay with that. Now that I am full-time at work, I jumped right into summer cleaning today. I know it will take a little bit of getting used to, but I am thankful that I will be working during the day for the next few weeks. This summer will be a short one for our district since we went so late into June. We will only get 7 weeks of summer break and then school starts again middle of August. But, I will enjoy the evenings with my son and the chance to spend time with family after work.

I know that Daron would be so proud of Taylor and this new stage in his life. I am very proud of him. He worked hard (for the most part) during his time in middle school. He made the Honor Roll and the Honorable Mention for his grades throughout his three years there. High School is going to be a new challenge for him and I am praying that he will push himself to meet the challenge. He is becoming quite the young man and I am proud of him. He is a typical teenager and doesn't always make the best choices, but he is learning from the choices that he makes. As a parent, that's all I can ask for. 

Summer break is here at last!

June 7, 2018

Finishing Middle School....Wow!

I cannot believe that Taylor is finishing 8th grade next week & preparing to enter High School in the fall. My son has been through a lot over the years. My son has had to grow up faster then he should have. He's already lived an entire lifetime (emotionally & mentally) in the past 14 years of his life. He is trying to find the balance between being a teenager & feeling like he's older then he really is. I'm just trying to get him to focus on today & not the future. He likes to point out how many years before he graduates. I like to point out that he has to focus or he won't graduate on time.

Taylor & I have been through many different phases of life over the years. Now he is going to start a whole new phase of his life & I can't wait to see what God has in store for him. I still can't believe that in a few short weeks my son will be a Freshman in high school. Time flies way to fast!

I want to take a moment to thank a few of the amazing teachers he has had over the years. These teachers have helped Taylor out more than they will ever know & more then I can ever express. Being a teacher can be difficult & thankless a lot of the time (I've seen it firsthand working in the elementary school over the years). I know that I am guilty of not taking time to thank these amazing teachers in person, so I want to say thank you to them now. I don't know if they will read this, but I want the world to know how much they mean to me.

Valerie Gorter (Taylor's 1st-grade teacher)
Thank You so much for all of the love you showered on my son while he was in your class. You helped Taylor to flourish & grow. I will never forget Taylor's birthday that year when you let me interrupt your day when Taylor's Grandpa came home early from his deployment. I still love watching the video I took that day of the birthday surprise. The love you have for each of your students, year after year, is felt as soon as they walk into your classroom. Thank You for taking time at the beginning of the year to call me & ask me how you could help Taylor. You took the time to really listen to the struggles our family was going through with my husband's illness. Thank You for taking that into consideration when Taylor was having a tough day in class. I could always tell when you showered him with a little extra love & support. God blessed Taylor by putting him in your class that year. I pray that God will continue to bless you & your family!

Cynthia Flak (Taylor's 4th-grade teacher with Mr. Burton)
Thank You for letting Taylor be a 4th-grader & be a boy! I know that sounds funny, but I also know that you understand what I mean. Thank You for taking the time needed with him & helping him to flourish through that year. He made the mistakes every 4th-grade boy makes, but you never made him feel out of place or ashamed of them. I'm sure you are enjoying your retirement from teaching & I'm so thankful that Taylor got to have you as his teacher before you retired. I pray that God will continue to bless you!

Mark Burton (Taylor's 4th-grade teacher with Mrs. Flak)
Thank You for being you! Taylor loved having you as his teacher. Every time Taylor reads, sees or hears something having to do with the Civil War he mentions you. He also mentions you whenever a crazy joke is told. Thank You for being strict with him when he needed it. Thank You for being a man that he looks up to & admires. Thank You for being a friend to me & for all of the laughs before, during and after lunch at SE. My stomach still hurts when I think of some of our discussions, our pranks & our jokes. I pray that God will continue to bless you as you work with students. I pray that God will bless you & your wife!

Paula Dykstra (Taylor's 4th & 5th-grade Principal)
Thank You for loving my son. Thank You for seeing his potential & encouraging him to achieve it. You are a wonderful person & I am thankful that I was able to work with you before you retired as principal. I pray that God will continue to bless you & your family!

Cindy Prentler, Kelly Hammontree and Kelly Kievit (Taylor's 6th-grade teachers)
Thank You does not seem like enough to express how grateful I am for each of you. Taylor had a tough time during his 6th-grade year as his dad's health declined. I know that each of you took time to check on him & just show him support. Thank You for being the encouragement he needed at school. I will always be grateful for the love each of you showered on my son! I pray that God will continue to bless each of you as you continue to teach. I also pray that God will bless each of you beyond comprehension for the love, care, support and encouragement you showed to Taylor.

Lynnea Roon (Taylor's 7th-grade Science teacher)
Thank You for showing Taylor that Science is fun. I know that he thinks of you while he is in science classes & compares them to your class (unfortunately). He misses having you as his Science teacher & he loved every experiment you did. I know that you have a tough load of science classes right now, but I know that every child learns something new from you every day. I pray that God will bless you as you teach & share your love of science with the students. I pray that God will bless you & your family over the years to come.

Keith Caterino (Taylor's 7th-grade Math teacher & 8th-grade Teen Leadership teacher)
Thank You for being Taylor's cool teacher (his words). Taylor loved being in your Teen Leadership class & I know he wishes he could have stayed in it all year. I loved hearing some of the stories he could share every day after school. He would go on & on about how cool you are & how much he loved your class. I know he struggled with Math & I want to Thank You for encouraging him to stick with it. Thank You for being an encourager, a leader, a teacher, and a man that he looks up to. Thank You for your dedication to the students you teach. I pray that God will bless you & your family!

Laura Kuperus and Michelle Barrows (Middle School Counselors)
Thank You for being there for Taylor following his dad's death. Thank You for being there for me as well. Thank You for your willingness to check in with him periodically. Thank You for being there for all of the students who pass through the middle school. Both of you are wonderful, caring, loving, supportive, encouraging women. I am at a loss for words to express just how thankful I am for both of you. I pray that God will bless each of you as you continue to work with the middle school students.

Troy Anderson (Taylor's Band Director)
Thank You for the past three years teaching Taylor in band class. We've had many discussions about my son over the years, and I am thankful that you are so dedicated to your students. Thank You for coming to his dad's funeral. It was completely unexpected & appreciated. Taylor talks often about how you are one of his favorite teachers. Thank You for pushing Taylor, even when he pushes back. Thank You for being a man that he looks up to. I can't wait to see what is in store for Taylor in high school. I also can't wait for Taylor to experience the joys & struggles of Marching Band! I pray that God will bless you as you continue to share your love of music with your students. I pray that God will bless you beyond comprehension in the years to come!

April 15, 2018

Letter to Daron on His Birthday

I'm finding it hard to believe that we are already at the second birthday Daron is spending in heaven. That also means that we are moving closer to the second anniversary of his death. I just can't wrap my head around that fact.

My Dearest Daron,

Happy Birthday to my forever 44-year-old. How is it possible that you are celebrating your second birthday in heaven already? I can't even begin to imagine how you'll be celebrating. I'm going to guess that you will be skydiving in the clouds with the people you've met & family who welcomed you Home. Don't forget to talk my Grandpa into skydiving with you. 😊

For some reason, this year I am struggling with your birthday. I would love to be able to take you out to eat or somewhere special for your birthday. Taylor & I would love to be able to spoil you & make you feel special. But I know that you are going to have an amazing time in heaven again this year & I will have to remember that.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart! I'll Always Love you!

December 12, 2017

Christmas Letter

Where to begin? 2017 has been a year full of growth & change in our home. It has been full of good times and rough times. The year started out full of emotions after the holidays of 2016. The start of the year was a time of adjustment and emotions as we continued the journey into our new normal without Daron on this earth.

I'll be honest, the first part of the year is a total blur for me. We ended 2016 with the majority of the firsts coming one right after the other (my birthday, our wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving, Taylors birthday, Christmas, New Year). With all of those firsts so close together, my brain and my heart went into autopilot mode as a way to protect me I'm sure. So the start of 2017 is very blurry for me. There were other firsts that we had to face in 2017 as well. Daron's birthday is in April and that was an emotional day for sure. July ended the first year since Daron's passing and started the second year. We went to the cemetery with his parents and nephew. That was harder than I thought it was going to be, but I'm glad we went.

Taylor started 8th grade - his final year of middle school. It's crazy how fast he has grown up. Here's a photo to show how fast he has grown physically...

October 2014  (5th grade)            December 2017 (8th grade)
My son is as tall as I am now! How did that happen?!?
Like I said, this photo shows the physical changes in my son. He will be 14 in a few days and he is already counting the days until he turns 18. I think he does it just to make me feel old. 😊  I am so proud of the young man he is becoming. He is thoughtful, caring, funny. He likes to make me laugh. He loves to hang out with his cousins and make them laugh. I can't wait to see what God has in store for his life! He did attend a grief camp over the summer, Camp Anew, and I know that helped him to become more sensitive to my emotions. I also truly believe it helped him to understand what he is going through since Daron passed and come to terms with it. He left the camp a changed young man and I am so grateful for that!

In October, I attended the Widows Retreat through Starlight Ministries. I attended last year shortly after Daron's death, but this year changed my life! I went last year as a way to fill part of something. This year, honestly, I went as a way to get away from everything. I just wanted a weekend to myself. I loved hearing Susan VandePolJolene DeHeer and Miriam Neff speak last year, I wanted to hear them again. I had no clue how much God was going to use this retreat to bring me closer to Him like never before. I can't even truly put into words how much my life changed from the retreat this year. I can say this, I have never had such a craving for the Word of God and for the relationship with Him that I walked away from. I am so thankful for this retreat! It is a huge blessing to be in a room with so many other women who truly understand the journey of widowhood. There is an unspoken bond between all of us and I felt like I was in a room with friends - even if I didn't know every single woman's name. Such a wonderful blessing!

2017 also brought along a milestone that Daron and I were looking forward to - our 15th wedding anniversary. I am thankful that I took the day off because it was so full of emotions. I wanted to have time to just feel the emotions, remember the memories, and just be in the moment of the day. This was a day that Daron and I talked about. We never made plans or anything, we just looked forward to this milestone anniversary. I am thankful for the 13 years and 9 months that I was married to Daron before God called him home. I will never regret the years we had together. But, there was a selfish part of me that just wanted to be with him for this milestone anniversary. I am sure that this feeling will come with every anniversary as the years go by. But, I look at our anniversary with love now and I remember the wonderful years we had together. This is one of my favorite photos from our wedding 15 years ago...

This year also brought a new job for me! I have enjoyed the past 5 years as a lunch lady, but God called me to a new job as a custodian. It is a different atmosphere and I'm sure it will be tough at times, but so far, I am enjoying this new job. I have learned that change can be good and when God calls me to it, I have to follow. Of course, this change doesn't just affect me, so I am praying that Taylor will learn to embrace this change as well. We'll see as I get further in since I only started this new job last night. 😊

As 2017 comes to an end and we look toward 2018, I can look back and see how much God has worked in my life and in Taylor's life. We have both grown in different ways, but we have grown and that is important. I have learned that you can't just stay grounded where you are. You have to keep moving forward. There are still times of deep grief and full of emotion over Daron's passing. I have learned that it is okay for me to sit and feel those emotions, but I have to remember to get up and keep moving forward when those emotions pass. If I stay in the middle of a pity party I won't learn anything and I won't keep growing. God has taught me so many things throughout 2017 and I am thankful for that. God has also brought new friends into my life and we are able to walk the widow journey together. I cannot express how thankful I am to have each of these amazing women in my life. 

May God bless each of you through this Christmas season. I hope you will be surrounded by those you love. Remember to be in the moment and truly enjoy being with friends and family. As you enter 2018, remember to cherish the memories of years gone by and look forward to the new memories you will make in the New Year. Keep yourself open to what God has in store for you throughout 2018. I know that I can't wait to see what will happen in my life in the year ahead!

Here are some photos from our recent photoshoot. Enjoy!

December 5, 2017

Making Changes

Following God's leading can be a tough thing sometimes. It can lead to a lot of heartache on this earth. It can lead to changes that you don't see coming. If you've been following my blog for any period of time, you know that my life has been full of a lot of changes over the years. Some of them I saw coming, others caught me completely by surprise.

When Daron died, I begged God to let me have some time without changes taking place. Well, we all know what Proverbs 16:9 says "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." This verse has shown itself true in my life lately. I tried to make certain plans for my life - what job I would have, what church I would attend, what ministries I would be involved in, etc. Recently all of those plans proved to be my plans & not God's plans. He has truly directed my steps as of late & led me down a path I wasn't prepared for.

Let me fill you in a little bit:

My Job -- I have been working at the lunch lady as a local elementary for the past 4.5 years. Three weeks ago, I applied for a different job within the same district. I applied for a night custodian job that would allow me to get some extra hours during school breaks & over the summer. Last week, I was offered the job & will be changing jobs next week. This change will be an interesting one & I am looking forward to this change in my life.

Church/Ministry -- I mentioned before that I was stepping down from the ministries I was involved in at my local church. Following God's leading has taken me down a path that I was not expecting at all....a change in what church Taylor & I attend. This one had me questioning God's leading. It also had me nervous since we have been at this church since Daron & I got married in 2002. But, God has never led me astray before & I know that He has my life in His hands. For now, Taylor & I will just attend a church so we can get back into our Christian walks. When God leads to joining a ministry within the church, I will be ready to follow.

I did not go seeking these changes on my own. These changes are truly from God & I must follow His leading. Since getting myself back into the Bible & asking God to once again be the King of my life, I am finding that following Him is easier than before. I can truly follow Him without digging my feet in & being dragged along. When I gave my life back to God & asked Him to take complete control, my life changed for the better. These changes are showing this to be fact & I am thankful for that.

November 5, 2017

Finding Time in the Word.....Struggling

In all honesty, I am still struggling with getting into my Bible every day. Without thinking I go straight to Facebook, my email or something else on my phone instead of my Bible. This has been frustrating to me. I have found myself slipping back into habits I am asking the Lord to take away from me. I know this is because I am not in the Word on a daily basis.

Why can't I make the Word of God a priority in my life?
Why is it so easy for me to put nonsense things in front of time with God?

I pray myself to sleep every night. I listen to Christian music in my car & at work. I recall Scripture passages or praise songs throughout the day. But I can't make time to open my Bible & read what God has to say to me first thing in the morning? That doesn't make any sense. I can't figure out why I am struggling so much with this. 

On another note, I have made two of the tough decisions that I needed to make. Since I have spoken with the people I needed to, I can let you know what they are. I have decided to step down from the VBS & AWANA ministries in my local church. I have felt God leading me to this for the past few months & I fought Him. I have been apart of these ministries for at least 14 years now. I have enjoyed every moment & I have loved working with so many different children over the years. These decisions were tough on so many levels, but I can't fight God when He is so strongly leading me. I have mixed emotions & I know without a doubt that I will miss these ministries. But, God has a plan for my life & I will follow His leading in this. 

There is another tough decision that I am struggling with. I cannot go into detail about this one yet, but I covet your prayers regarding it. God knows what the decision is & what the outcome will be. I trust His leading & I know that with His guidance the best decision will be made. God will not lead me from something without leading me to something. His ways are perfect!

Two Years...How Is That Possible?

How is it possible that two years ago today Daron left this earth and entered Heaven? It still feels like it was yesterday at times. This y...