Thursday, June 29, 2017


In case you didn't already know it, I'm a bit of a control freak.  I like things just-so.  I like to have control over every little thing in my own little world.

Ha.  Like that really happens.  I like to fool myself, though.

I have a hard time with change.  Even good change.  And yet, I feel it coming and it makes me uneasy.  I know we have to change.  I know we should continually be growing in the Lord.  I know it is good for my children to grow up, come into their own, and fly out into the world as the arrows God made them to be.  It is still hard.

It seems I've been reminded at every turn recently that my children are not my own.  They are loaned to me by the Lord.  He created them, then placed them in my care, but only for a short time.  That's a hard truth that hurts.

Maybe I just need a post-it note...😘

by Joni Eareckson Tada
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue."
Proverbs 18:21
After more than four decades of quadriplegia, I'm tired. My bones are weary from battling everything from pressure sores and pneumonia to stage III cancer. My question these days is never "Why, God?" It's most often "How?" How do I keep on going? How do I care about others when I'm consumed with my own physical challenges? How can I be kind and civil when pain wracks me? 
The other morning Ken could see the weariness in my eyes. Right before I wheeled out to go to the van, he said, "Wait here; I know exactly what you need." He rushed back with a yellow post-it note. On it he had penned the letter 'C' with a felt-tipped marker. I gave him an odd look. "It stands for Courage," he said, "the courage of Christ. I can see it in your eyes, Joni, and you can do this day. I know you can!" With that, he pressed the post-it on my shirt, right above my heart.
I can't explain what happened next, but I could feel God's encouragement. Ken only said a few words, but they were brimming with power and life. His was a declaration of the good he saw in me; or, at least the good he wanted to see. And God gave me His amazing grace to rise to the occasion.
Even the best of Christians can feel the weight of weariness. It's why Hebrews 3:13 tells us to "Encourage one another daily." Think of the people you'll see today: friends recovering from surgery, neighbors dealing with grief, coworkers coping with pain. Whether you say it in an email, over the phone, or in person, your words have the capacity to change their countenance and character. And the best word? The Word made flesh, Jesus, who always has courageous words of life.
Oh, Father, I need the courage of Christ to face this day's demands. Thank You for making me strong in Him.
Joni and Friends

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Little Boy Blue

I've been thinking a lot about the items he left behind.  The loved items that go un-played with.  They sit on a shelf, untouched.  Where they once brought only great joy, they now bring so much sorrow, mingled with sweet memories.
Yes, I have kept many of his things.  No, I do not have them set up as a shrine.  This wall is in my sewing room, hidden away from the bulk of the world.  Yes, I feel a twinge of guilt for keeping his things hidden away.  No, I know he is not in them.  But he once loved them.  Once touched them.  And somehow I just cannot bring myself to part with them.  Not yet.  I don't know if I ever will.

These shelves are another oxymoron in my life.  Sometimes these items bring me so much joy.  It's at these times, when I can hardly bear to leave this room, when I am longing to feel his touch just once more.

But at other times, these things bring so much sorrow.  Unbearable sorrow.  It's at these times, when I absolutely cannot bear to be in this room, when I am longing to feel his touch just once more.

I came across this poem by Eugene Field.  I thought it was a beautiful depiction of dashed hopes, shattered dreams, and all the firsts that are buried with a child, taken far too soon.

The little toy dog is covered with dust,
   But sturdy and stanch he stands;
And the little toy soldier is red with rust,
   And his musket molds in his hands.
Time was when the little toy dog was new,
   And the soldier was passing fair;
And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue
   Kissed them and put them there.

"Now, don't you go till I come," he said,
   "And don't you make any noise!"
So, toddling off to his trundle-bed,
   He dreamt of the pretty toys;
And, as he was dreaming, an angel song
   Awakened our Little Boy Blue---
Oh! the years are many, the years are long,
   But the little toy friends are true!

Ay, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand,
   Each in the same old place---
Awaiting the touch of a little hand,
   The smile of a little face;
And they wonder, as waiting the long years through
   In the dust of that little chair,
What has become of our Little Boy Blue,
   Since he kissed them and put them there.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hope, Love, and Youth

I love young adults.  Seriously.  From my own young adult children to the friends in their lives and mine - I just love them.  Young people are refreshing, compassionate, zealous, and quite honestly, the young people in my life remind me of how we're supposed to treat one another.  Overlooking faults.  Choosing love.  Showing compassion.  Meeting needs.  Working hard.  Having fun.

I look at these young people in my life and I feel hope.  Maybe things aren't quite as bad as it seems.  God is clearly working, even if through a remnant.  I am amazed at the solidarity and strength of the group of young people I know.  Mature and wise beyond their years, yet with the playfulness and goofiness of youth.

I want all of my young adult friends to know how much their love means to me.  I haven't mentioned every deed, but it's all been meaningful.  From leaving things at William's grave to long talks in the office to dropping in to check on us to wearing your BE MIGHTY shirts and so, so much more...all of your deeds have played a huge part in our grieving (and healing) process.

I have been so wrapped up in my own grief that I almost forgot how much all of you loved William.  How he impacted your lives.  How he changed you forever.  A couple of weeks ago, while speaking with a friend, she made this comment...

"When we lost William..."

It hit me like a bucket of water.  A much needed bucket of water.  She wasn't minimizing my grief and wasn't even trying to make a point to me, it was just a natural course of conversation because I'm not the only one who lost him.  It wasn't just our family who loved him so dearly.  We aren't the only ones who sacrificed for him...who would have done ANYTHING for him.

It really made me think about all my young adult friends and how William's death affected them.  And I'm so sorry.  I'm sorry that I've been so focused on my own loss and navigating through my grief that I haven't given much thought to what you were going through.  I am sorry that you lost a dear, little friend and that at far too young an age you all faced such grief.  I am so very thankful that you all have strong family support systems.  I know you already know, but I just want to remind you that William loved you all very much.  And to thank you for always including him and making him feel so loved.  Horses, letters, balls, harmonicas, hospital visits, reading, wrestling, farm animals, legos, singing, parties, and so much more... You all know who you are.  Thank you.

Thank you for being there.  For being so present through his short life and for loving us through our grief.  We're here for you, too.  We love you!

Speaking of young adults, I received the most beautiful message earlier this week from a dear, young friend who gently reminded me that he is praying for me.  And he wrote this sweet poem and sent it to me...


With trembling lips and tear filled eyes
I started this new day,
It seems that all my earnest cries
Lie silent, bleak and gray.

This aching heart, oh who can know?
This grief and sorrow deep.
This pain, this burden still does grow
My eyes have lost their sleep.

Why does it seem so silent still,
Does no one ever hear?
Will pain alone my life now fill
'Till death and grave draw near?

Oh how I long to see his face,
If only but once more.
To hold him in a tight embrace;
My joy to heaven soar.

But death has taken hold of him
The grave his body took.
The enemy and reaper grim
Gave him their final look.

My thoughts now go to bygone years
When once a mother wept.
She too had many doubts and fears
Laid down, but never slept.

Her Son had suffered more than all
Forsaken He had hung.
He drunk the bitter cup of gall
And dried out was His tongue.

He too was placed within the grave
His body broken lay.
A stone was rolled to close the cave,
A guard watched night and day.

It was His God and Father Who
Did kill His only Son.
He did so that for me and you
Our curse would be undone.

Yet Grave His body could not keep
He rose to life again.
And now though we may mourn and weep
We know, He knows our pain.

My head I now can lift with joy
For I will yet him see.
Death has not triumphed, and my boy
Will rise to victory.

In all my suffering pain and grief
I now have steadfast hope.
My God does hear and grant relief
I once again can cope.

Though weeping may endure the night
And sorrow fill my heart.
Joy cometh with the morning bright.
To God I thanks impart.    ~ Roelf Kars Janssen

Friday, June 9, 2017


For whatever reason, my post did not publish yesterday (Thursday).  Hmmm.  Maybe my subject was harsher than I had intended or just simply not profitable.  Anyway, I'm going to spend some time rethinking it.

Today I've been thinking about this quote by Florence Nightingale, "Life is a hard fight, a struggle, a wresting with the principle of evil, hand to hand, foot to foot.  Every inch of the way is disputed.  But the night is given us to take breath and to pray, to drink deep at the fountain of power.  The day, to use the strength that has been given us, to go forth to work with it till the evening."

It is hard.  I know I'm not sleeping as I should, but I almost need the quiet of the night to rejuvenate.  And I must still spend time with my thoughts of him and those come, sweetly, but mostly at night.

I cannot think of anything that matches the joy that the blessing of children brings to a family.  And I am quite certain that there is nothing on earth that rivals the sorrow of a family forced to bury a child.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hospitality and Something Special

There's been MUCH activity since we moved 7 weeks ago!  It's been fun, but we've also learned a lot about our family.  Namely, we have a lot to learn about being good hosts!  😧  I am so grateful that we have a great hosting area, I pray that we can be good stewards of it...

Over the last month, we've enjoyed a lot of company.  Our sweet friends came to visit from California and even though a few of us were very ill and poor company, they braved it through.  I can't even remember if we fed them over the few days they were here, but they didn't perish of starvation so I guess they figured something out! 😯  Too much of the house to list hadn't been unpacked but they graciously stepped over things. 😜 Hopefully the whole family can come soon.  Or who knows? Maybe we'll actually take a trek their direction... 😁

A good game of Clue
The Chess masters
Catch Phrase is always a favorite!

What's an Ocker visit without horses?
Sean and Benjamin
Little girls at play
A lot of time was passed in this manner... :)
Sweet little girls
Part of the YPL team

When we heard Douglas Bond was going to be in town, of course we invited him out.  The children were so excited to meet one of their all-time favorite authors!  Doug started with a Young Writer's Workshop where he taught about 20 young people.

After the workshop, families came together at the barn where we enjoyed a time of fellowship and dinner.

We had about 70 people stay to hear Doug speak on "Reformation Romance."  He made Luther's life sound so funny and interesting!  I highly recommend his book, Luther in Love.
He stayed after, signing books.  Sarah brought out this stack of Bond books for him to autograph! Haha!  We are actually missing a few of his books.  We'll have to remedy that!

We also met a new family who came to stay for a bit.  It was nice to get to know them, even in the midst of still getting settled in.  Although in our house things never really settle down, so it's pretty much always crazy busy!  While they were here, we also finished the back fence, moved the chicken coop, got the dogs moved to the house (Finally! Yay!), moved part of the shed, and took care of a few Right Path things.  Whew!  We also had part of our church out to meet them, which was a lot of fun.  Oh, and I almost new lights were installed in the living room!  Woo-hoo!  Super exciting!
The group...what a blessing!
Of course horses!
I love the piano...thanks again, Mr. Kirkland!

Some braved the cold water with the heater broken
I have no idea what was so interesting and funny...
A new game...Code Names

The living room is up and running and Wallace even got to help!  He was super excited!  Also, my pantry should be installed later today and the pool heater should be up and running next week.  AND, we have more company coming over the summer!  I am so excited!  BOTH of my sisters who live out of state will be visiting us this summer!  Yay!

We are so grateful to everyone who helped us move, build, remodel, fence...everything!  The meals were so incredibly helpful, too!  We have been so very blessed with the love of such good friends.  Seriously, I cannot express enough what all of you mean to us.  I don't know how we would have gotten through the past year and a half+ without you.  It's taught me to never underestimate the power of love, a kind word, a sweet gesture...what only takes a moment of your time could mean the world to someone.  And it's got me thinking a lot about forgiveness, repentance, restoration, and grace, so be prepared to get my thoughts on that in the future.😁

I got to introduce Benjamin's beautiful talents to our new friends.  Later as we were discussing how God has blessed him with amazing ability, I was able to show them this video.  I thought I would repost it because it's so beautiful and powerful.  And special.  Again, I'm so grateful for the love of friends...