How playing a church organ is like driving a Mack truck

There’s always a part of me that wants to be a truck driver.  I love the open road.  Put all the windows down, let my hair fly wild and have the radio full blast.  Driving! That feels like freedom to me.  I have a few Facebook trucker friends.  It is fascinating to read how many miles they’ve traveled, what kind of loads they are hauling, crazy happenings on the road, and interesting bits of news and weather from far-away cities that only a trucker could witness.

My brother has a few Mack trucks “just for fun”.  He uses them in his work as a dairy farm owner and hauls loads for others, yet he tells me they are mainly his hobby. He buys older models, fixes them up and paints them.

Fred and my son with one of the Mack trucks.  Photo credit:  Brenda Hoffman Photography

My brother and my son with one of the Mack trucks. Photo credit: Brenda Hoffman Photography

When I was a girl, it was it was a delight to ride with my Grandpa Balkema in his dump truck to deliver loads of gravel.  He also let me ride in the loader with him when he was loading up the truck.  I rode with my dad on the tractors, slowly going down row after row when he was working in the fields.  There was the day I rode with a friend in a semi truck to deliver flowers to Chicago and marvelled at the skill needed to drive in heavy traffic and back up into narrow spaces.  I rode with my brother in his Macks, just for fun.  Maybe it’s in my blood.  Several women in my family have been bus drivers, and also enjoy driving trucks or tractors. In relocating there have been opportunities to drive decent sized moving trucks–my favorite part of moving!!! Confession:, I’m a bit scared to drive them.  Not so much drive, as to back up or turn around.)  When I am driving a truck my theme song is “Give me forty acres and I’ll turn this rig around.”  And who doesn’t love a good ol’ trucker song!?  “On the Road again….”, “Roll on 18 Wheeler” or “Little Pink Mack.”

I took organ lessons on a wonderful pipe organ, and have played on several electronic organs.  My youngest sister is now taking organ lessons and we’ve been discussing the process of learning to play.  It occurred to me that playing a good pipe organ is like the feeling of driving a big rig.  Talk about POWER!  If you’ve ever sat in the driver’s seat of a big truck, or on the bench of a pipe organ and felt that deep low growl, you know what I mean.

These are the ways playing a pipe organ remind me of driving a Mack truck:

  • The impressive instrument panel.
  • You can put the pedal to the metal—but do so gradually for the best effect.
  • Smoke stacks or pipes – take your pick!
  • You make adjustments based on the load you are carrying or the number of people singing.
  • Often you are seated up and above everyone else.  Great views!
  • Both have horns that blast! (The organ stop is often labeled “trompette.”)
  • They are both majestic. It feels both humbling and exciting to sit on the bench or drivers seat.

Yours truly, playing a small church organ 18 years ago.

How about you?  Do you like to drive?  What’s the biggest vehicle you have ever driven? Have you ever played a pipe organ and know the feeling I’m talking about?

The Faith of Eda Stek

Back then, they called her a mongoloid.  This is now considered a derogatory term, but Eda Stek was born in 1903, one of eleven children.  Her parents were John and Henrietta (De Wild) Stek.  She was a considered a special member of the family, having what we would now call Down’s Syndrome.

Eda was short, sturdy and round.  She always wore a dress (with corset) and sturdy black old lady shoes.  She didn’t speak very clearly but her family could understand her.  It took longer than others, but she learned to write.  She would write Bible verses or short, simple letters.  When Eda’s mother was on her death bed, she made her other children promise to take care of their sister, and they kept their promise.   In those days, the only alternative would have been a poorhouse.

When she stayed with her sister Nellie, she always had  her own room in the large farmhouse.  Eda was given the room above the stove, to help keep her warm.  The many children in that family had to share rooms, but Eda had her own spot.  She could be heard at night calling out for another sister, Marie who was a favorite of Eda.  But when she was at Marie’s, she would call out for Nellie.

Eda was terrified of storms.  Sometimes her nephews would tease her about that.

Mainly, Eda helped.  She fed chickens and helped her sister Nellie with  many household chores to her ability.

A great-niece recalled how much Eda loved children.  One day when her great-nieces arrived for a visit, Eda (by then in her fifties) was waiting.  She was so excited to see them, that she jumped up and down, cheering “Goody! Goody! Goody!”.  She filled her scrap books with magazine and calender pictures of children, animals and nature, and she would give the scrapbooks as gifts.

A scrapbook for Mary and Joanne, made by Eda.

A scrapbook for Mary and Joanne, made by Eda.


A page from Eda's scrapbook

A page from Eda’s scrapbook

Eda moved around frequently. Census records show that in 1930 she was living with her sister, Jennie and in 1940, she was staying with her brother, William and his family.  She might spend a couple of years with one family, and perhaps 6 months with another, but her siblings kept their promise.

When asked what she remembered about Eda, an  acquaintance from  church remarked,

I remember her most for her child-like faith.

A page from Eda's scrapbook.

A page from Eda’s scrapbook.

All these family stories tell us a little bit about Eda.  But there is one  special story my grandma told me about her when I was seven years old.  I have never forgotten it.   This story has encouraged my faith in God, and my hope of heaven for many, many years.

For the last five years of her life, Eda resided in  the Pleasant  Park Nursing Home of Oskaloosa, Iowa.  She became increasingly unresponsive.  A minister who visited Eda  before she passed away told me that he read the Bible and prayed for her, but she did not respond.

On December 20, 1979,  after weeks of being bed-ridden and not speaking, Eda miraculously sat up in her bed.  Looking up, seeing something nobody else in the room could see, she exclaimed with delight,

MAMA!  PAPA!  Pretty Pretty Pretty!  

Eda sunk back into her pillow and died.

Child-like faith

Child-like faith

Special thanks to Rev. Carl Klompien, Mrs. Delmar VanKooten, Mr. Leo Nikkel, Mary Vlietstra, Joanne Vlietstra, Esther Uramkin, April Hoeksema and Ava Davidson (Pella Chronicle).


The theme for The Loft this week is “potluck”!    This is a post that was published previously, but I did a little editing.  Of all the posts I have written  I would say this is my favorite.  I really enjoyed researching and talking to people who had met  Eda.  Before this post, the only thing I knew about Eda was the story of her passing.  She was my great-grandmother’s sister.

The Loft

Fighter Verses

This week at The Loft we are asked to share our favorite, well worn Scriptures, the ones we keep going back to again and again.  Verses that help us be victorious when we are in spiritual warfare.  This has been my favorite passage in Scripture since I was a young teenager.   

There is very little that can happen in life, that is not in some way covered by the following verses.  Afflictions? Fears? Troubles?  Brokenhearted?  Ashamed?  Poor?  Enemies? How to live life? Need hope? This Psalm puts everything in perspective, starting with worship:


       Psalm 34              

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.


The Loft


How about you?  What are your favorite “fighter verses”?

Something funny

The Loft link up is asking us to write something funny this week.

Growing up with five siblings, there was a good deal of name-calling.  One day in junior high, I learned the term “perpendicular bisector” in geometry class.  It’s very likely that I didn’t grasp what the concept was, but the term itself stuck with me and it sounded quite impressive.


Perpendicular Bisector of a Triangle

Perpendicular Bisector of a Triangle



Sure enough, my younger brother picked an argument with me that evening.  (Certainly I didn’t pick the argument!)  My response to whatever he said was:

 Well YOU’RE a perpendicular bisector!!!!

My brother  went into the kitchen and said

Mom!  Karen called me a perpendicular bisector!

Mom looked horrified.  She told me I shouldn’t talk to my brother that way, blah blah blah and finally ended with:

What is that!?



The Loft

The Loft


My Greatest Insecurity is….Insecurity (link up with The Loft)

The Loft

The Loft

Recently I joined up with The Loft after hearing about it through one of my favorite bloggers, Arabah Joy.  The topic for writing this week is “Your greatest insecurity”.

I’ve been pondering this one for a few days–trying to pick just one–and realized that insecurity itself is my greatest insecurity!  I simply want my loved ones to be safe, and I want to feel safe.  This is a basic concern for most people, but I have a particular knack for thinking of the worst case scenario in every situation, especially at night when it’s time to sleep.

Painful insecurity comes from having a marriage dissolve after eight years.   A vow I took and intended to last until death was grievously dissolved in a court room one day as if it never happened.  At that time, every aspect of life felt insecure.

Some insecurity relates to health issues and fear of accidents.   I worked as a respiratory therapist in various areas at the hospital and witnessed the effects of numerous diseases, as well witnessing injuries from accidents, violence and mishaps.  Every symptom experienced by myself or my family is a potential cause to run to Dr. Google.  Talk about finding worse case scenarios!

How about the security of living in a long term home? Since leaving my parent’s home 25 years ago at the age of 18, I haven’t lived consecutively in the same home/apartment/trailer for longer than three years.  The moving has often gone hand-in-hand with financial insecurity related to unemployment or job changes.

Natural disasters?  I’ve been in the direct path of two tornadoes.  Violence? I’ve lived within 2 blocks of a man who drove through areas that surrounded our normally peaceful neighborhood one afternoon, randomly shooting as he went to kill others intentionally.  I’ve had a person I trusted threaten to kill me and prevent me from calling for help. Wild animals? I hit a deer with my car 3 times.  No! Let me correct it for the record: The deer have hit ME!  

I’ve had one of those most dreaded phone calls one Sunday morning, hearing that a dear  friend/cousin died suddenly, unexpectedly in the heart of her mothering years.  We waited for several weeks to hear results from the autopsy report that she had a rare heart condition. Life itself is fragile, and it is shattering to lose someone my age.

Being a mom brings up all sorts of insecurity and fears for my children.  When my children were babies, I rarely slept at night, feeling I should be on alert and reassuring myself that they were breathing.  As they grow older, new fears develop. Like a Mama bear, I want to protect them, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The fears and worries about my pregnancy this spring did nothing to stop another miscarriage from happening. I have had two babies in my womb that I simply could not protect.

Last week our pastor preached from Luke 12, the classic passage where Jesus tells his disciples “Do not worry.”  I copied something pastor said in my notes:

We can’t change even the smallest things by worrying.

Confession:  In my head, I get this crazy idea that by anticipating tragedy, perhaps I can prevent it!  Worrying makes me somehow feel more secure, as if I can prevent things from happening by preparing for the worst outcome.

Can I stop another deer from crossing my path?  Can I stop another tornado from forming near my family?  Can I keep my husband safe on his drive home from work? Stop a terrorist attack?

The symptoms of post traumatic stress have affected me over the years, and I have found that counseling and medical help have been beneficial for processing events and managing physical symptoms.

However, when it boils down, the only antidotes to my every day insecurities are two things:  Prayer and thankfulness.

Philippians 4:6-7



Only the hope of the gospel allows me to cry out to God for freedom from my insecurities, when I am weary of my sin.  I start to feel ashamed, and then don’t want to pray.   If I cannot come to Him to begin with, how do I place all my insecurities in His mighty hand?  How can I pour my heart out to someone that I am afraid of?   The gospel (GOOD NEWS!) reality is that He has forgiven, justified, redeemed me from any insecurity I might have that prevents me from approaching him. Approaching him humbly, confessing my sin, and bravely trusting that I am forgiven enables me to pour my insecurities and worries out to Him in prayer.  Talk about stress relief! (Praise God that we can have mustard seed faith, right?) People!  I have not mastered this yet.  I am preaching the gospel to myself.


Just a few weeks ago, Ann Voskamp (guru of gratitude) posted a blog about her daughter asking “Why is there all this loveliness?”  I’ve been pondering that thought.  Aren’t we  also commanded to think about whatever is lovely, good, pure, etc.?  My thoughts naturally tend to mull about the evil, the bad, sickness, death, sin and bad news of the day.  But how about the good? In the midst of insecurity, there is much reason to give thanks. I cannot even tell (it would take pages and pages) all the kindness, friendship, prayers, love and support I have received from the family of God, my family, and my husband.  The comfort and healing from God Himself through the Psalms soothes me without fail, whenever I seek it out.  Then there is the soothing beauty of music and Lake Michigan sunsets and falling stars. Why is there all this loveliness?   A heart focused on gratitude to God builds a fortress against insecurity.


 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145:17-19)




Devastated about John Balyo

June 20, 2014

I saw a news item about accusations against John Balyo this afternoon that shocked and devastated me.  We regularly listen to his radio program on WCSG  with his co-host, Amanda.

I’m angry because a child suffered this evil.

I’m angry because what he did makes every song on that station sound cheap to me today.

I’m devastated to think what his new wife might be going through.  I find it almost unbearable to think about how she is feeling.

I am most upset that this sin dishonors the name of Christ in such a massive, public way in the community.

Isaiah 47:10 & 11 ESV
July 7, 2014

More and more details have come out about John Balyo’s dark side.  His secret sins have left a terrible wake, and there will likely be more devastation coming.

What happened to Bethany Balyo (John’s new wife) is my worst nightmare come true.  As a mother, it brings up fears for my own children.  Perhaps many women feel this way.  This episode has brought back memories of grief and pain.  There have been some sleepless, restless nights because of getting stuck in a loop of thoughts and worry. However, along with that grief comes opportunity for more healing.

I can choose to focus on the devastation, or I can get back into God’s Word, and find peace, comfort and refuge in Him.  I am thankful for my husband and a few others who have listened to my thoughts and feelings about this issue and are helping me process through them.

Looking back,  God has never, ever failed me.  To keep letting myself go in these circles of thought and being obsessed about the case against him, does nothing but let the enemy have his way.  This results in depression and despair.  I have a beautiful family and life that has been given to me.  Satan would love to take away my joy and cause me to live in fear, but by the grace of God, that won’t  continue any longer.  I choose to cling to Christ and on His promises in Scripture.

Psalm 37:4

Chris Lemke, general manager of WCSG spoke to Chris Fabry  about John Balyo on his radio program on Moody radio on June 24.  I highly recommend listening to hour two, “Processing a Moral Failure”.  Highlights/quotes from Chris Lemke:

-He was called ‘the boyscout’ here because he was squeaky clean.
-He was married just 7 weeks ago and his bride and new step son had recently lost her husband to cancer 2 or 3 years ago…
-Saturday night I got home late and my wife and I had a heart to heart talk and she asked me  ‘Honey, how do I know I can trust you?’

Here are concrete ways to help:

Pray for the victim, and any other potential victims that are involved in this case.

Support and pray for organizations that help children and other victims of sex trafficking such as  Women At Risk, International (WAR). WAR offers many ways to get involved.

Support and pray for Bethany Balyo and her son Alek.

Support and pray for WCSG radio station and Cornerstone University.

As difficult as it is, we can pray for John Balyo, that  he will repent and seek God’s mercy.  He has apparently been struggling for many years and will likely spend the rest of his life in jail.  Pray that any others who are struggling with an addiction or similar issues will understand the potential consequences because of this news story, and seek out help.

Diary of a short, but very real life

February 11, 2014

It was just last week when I called my husband into the bathroom, bawling my eyes out.  I couldn’t even speak while handing  him the little test, that showed two pink lines, clear as day.  I was crying for three reasons:

1. Shock.

2.  Joy.

3.  Terrified.

It has been about three years since my last pregnancy, and an ultrasound close to week 10 showed that baby stopped developing at nine weeks.  The actual physical miscarriage happened at thirteen weeks. Our children are now ages 5 & 6, and well out of baby stages.  Yet, my daughter has prayed on more than one occasion for a baby in our family.  We always told her, “It’s up to God.”   The past two moves, I haven’t quite had the heart to get rid of our favorite baby items.  In recent months, I had assumed we were probably done having children,  and was planning to give most things away.  This pregnancy is a big surprise (but welcome).

Children are a blessing.  I consider a baby a precious gift, and I’m one of those baby people.   Nothing makes me happier than the opportunity to hold a baby.  I am thrilled at the thought of a new child joining our family.

So why am I feeling fear?  Not so much because of my age. Never mind the fact that two days ago I received an invitation to my 25th year high school homecoming festivities!  It’s the fact that there are other health issues of concern, such as blood pressure, arthritis pain, and my weight.  I went to see my family doctor a few days after seeing the positive test.  Everything was confirmed. She wrote “high risk” on my paperwork and sent me to the referral department.  So here we go.  I’m expecting lots of tests, lab work, doctor appointments and ultrasounds over the next many months.  That is…..if we don’t miscarry again.

I am feeling overwhelmed.  I told my husband the first evening after we found out that I don’t want to live in fear.  I have spent the past week or two digesting this exciting news, yet struggling with anxiety and obsessive thoughts.  I am thankful to report that I have been having major pregnancy symptoms.  With the miscarriage, I noticed that the symptoms went away after only a few weeks, and were mild.  Frequently I am nauseated and have food aversions.  I am having to eat every couple hours or I get shaky (and I’m not diabetic–but have had issues with hypoglycemia in the past).  I’m glad to be on the prenatal vitamin along with with extra iron and hoping that will boost my energy level a little bit.

So that’s the story.  That’s where we are at.  This is brand new, fresh, hot-off-the-press news.

I am clinging to Psalm 138:8.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;

your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

Do not forsake the work of your hands.

What I really see in this entire situation, is an opportunity to TRUST God.  I cannot control the outcome.  I can only take care of myself  and this baby the best I can.

March 10, 2014 (nearly one month after previous entry)

Went in for our first ultrasound a couple of weeks ago.  Based on dates, I figured we were close to 8 weeks.  What we saw on the screen was a five week, one day gestational sac.  The doctor told me that it was still well within the realm of possibility, and to remain “cautiously optimistic”.  It was torture waiting 9 more days for the next ultrasound. Over and over my husband and I prayed for peace, no matter the outcome.  In the meanwhile, pregnancy symptoms continue as strong as ever including extreme exhaustion.

Nine days later, we were disappointed and sad to see a sac measuring 5 weeks, 3 days. No sign of our baby.  How I had longed to see that little heart beating, but it is not to be.  My body still thinks it is pregnant, but at some point (unless there is a miracle), we are expecting a miscarriage.  The last miscarriage took nearly 3 weeks from hearing the news before it happened.  At least this time I know a little bit what to expect.


March 15, 2014- Late at night

This is the pits.  The past three days I have been exhausted and nauseated and food tastes gross to me, just like normal pregnancy.  By my original calculations, I should be ten weeks by now.  Everything in my body feels like I’m ten weeks pregnant, but according to the doctor, based on the ultrasound, there is no hope.  I am hurting.  I keep hoping that somehow the ultrasounds were wrong.  I am sad that most people don’t know what I’m going through. We only shared our news with a few people.  I feel alone and like I’m “hiding something”.  I don’t want a bunch of sympathy and advice.  What I really want is to drop off the face of the earth for a few weeks till this is past.

This pregnancy is called a  “blighted ovum” and I feel like I’m a failure.  I wonder if this wee little fertilized egg means anything in the Kingdom of God and how that all works.  Do I now have two little ones in heaven?  Will I see them some day?  How can this be when they are so little, never really developed?  At other times I am calm and very accepting.  In other words, whether I want to or not (and I don’t want to), I am in the middle of some hefty grieving again.  I just want to be alone, but I want other people to know too.  My heart is aching tonight and I am finding the whole situation unbearable.  I don’t think the hormones are helping my emotions either.  I TRUST GOD.  I am disappointed.  I go to church and other places, but only a few people know about it.  I don’t want to hear a bunch of trite stuff.  But I do want to hear some kind words.  I wish I had someone to talk to right now, but it’s the middle of the night.   This could take weeks yet.  And then there are the fears about going through the actual miscarriage.  The last one I went through was painful, difficult, and scary at times.  I am really dreading it.

April 4, 2014  

It is moving so very slow.  This is hard to bear.  I want to plan my son’s birthday for the end of the week, but do not know how I will be feeling.  At this point I do not feel safe traveling outside of my immediate area.  It’s hard to plan anything.  I’m hurting.  Backaches and pain every day. I’m waiting.  I thank God for the midwife who delivered our daughter at home.  She has done more to reassure and comfort me the past few days about the waiting, than anything I’ve heard from the doctor’s office.

 April 5, 2014

Feeling greatly comforted tonight after reading Safe in the Arms of God by John MacArthur. Read the entire book this afternoon and evening.  If nothing else, I needed to go through this miscarriage to also receive comfort from the previous baby we lost, which I have been silently grieving the past three years.  I am comforted tonight, because I know that I have two precious little ones who are glorifying God in heaven.  I believe that they are among the saints, praising God and worshipping Him.  They have been spared all the grief, sadness, illness and sin of this world, and they are complete and perfect because of the blood of Jesus Christ.  They were sinners, as we all are, but they were not at an age of accountability.  These little ones are with Jesus.  Some day I will see them again.  They will know me, and I will know them, and we will all know Jesus as we should know Him.  Me, no longer through the lense of my own sin.  I read several paragraphs from the book out loud to my husband tonight, which explained, based on Scripture why I can be confident in God’s kindness and grace toward my tiny babies.  My conclusion tonight is this:   This physical suffering is worth it, knowing our baby is with God my Savior.  The babies are not suffering or missing me.  I am grieving my little ones, but I am comforted by that same Redeemer, who holds us all.  I praise God for comforting me through His Word.

April 11, 2014

I’m five days out from the miscarriage.  So thankful that I was able to manage everything at home.  It is similar to preparing for a home birth.  There is a mini-labor involved, very painful.  This time I was well prepared, compared to the previous miscarriage.  I felt really good the day AFTER, relieved to be through with the mini-labor after all the waiting.  Since then, I feel pretty lousy and down in the dumps.

April 15, 2014

I am feeling so low.  The post pregnancy hormones have arrived.  I have to keep myself together all day for the sake of the kids, and at night can’t sleep. I start to think about everything and need to weep and mourn and grieve my little one who I will never see until that day.  I thank God for the hope of the resurrection.

April 24, 2014

My pastor gave me some good advice.  I called him about something else, and then broke down a little bit when he asked how I was doing.  He said (in better words) that I need to give myself permission to grieve, even in front of the kids if need be.  He also told me that going outside always helps him feel better, and he would recommend going outdoors.  Every day I have been going outside a bit.  The best outside day was Easter Sunday when we took a very short hike at Snug Harbor.  The air was fresh and cool, but the sun was warm.  It was amazing to be among the trees, leftover leaves from last fall crunching at our feet.  My daughter running ahead of us in shear delight, my son grumbling because he wanted to go back to the open area and play catch with Dad.  It was truly bliss, especially after the long winter.

I am frustrated at the fatigue.  My husband has had to pick up my slack in many areas, but I’m getting the children schooled every day.  I’m managing to get supper together, but rarely have the energy to clean up.  He still had to do the grocery shopping for me this week.  I often hit a wall of exhaustion.  I’m too tired to go any further and have to lay down.  Perhaps anemia?  I’m taking lots of iron.

May 8, 2014

Anemia confirmed.  I am using every iron trick I know. Black strap molasses, cooking with my cast iron skillet, two types of iron supplements (have been taking those all along), herbal remedies, green leafy vegetables, ground beef.  Still feeling very fatigued. Need multiple mini- naps to get through the day.

May 15, 2014

The iron must be kicking in.  I am not needing the morning nap anymore and starting to get some energy back.  Was able to do some extra housework again besides the bare basics.

May 25, 2014

We buried the little sac today, just my husband and I, right near the spot where we buried our other little one.  We held hands, had a few tears, and prayed and committed our little one to God’s care.  We believe, by God’s grace and kindness, we will meet both of  these “glory babies” some day.

It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. -I Corinthians 15:43



I wrote a couple of posts about preparing for a natural miscarriage on Hub Pages here and here, while the experience was fresh in my mind.  Hopefully  they will provide some practical help for others in a similar experience.

We’ve had great support from people through this ordeal.  We have seen the love of God displayed from friends, family and our church family.  One gave me a bouquet of flowers.  I was so happy to have them.  They were a visual reminder of our baby’s life. When the miscarriage finally took place, we let our church know.  We received prayers and cards, kind words of support, and people brought meals.  Others helped by taking care of our kids for medical appointments and on days when we needed extra help.  Another friend was going through an extremely difficult trial and sharing her struggles and hope via e-mails.  Her faith and trust in God in a time of deep pain brought much comfort to my own heart.

As I edit and write this final section in June, physically I am feeling better.  There are still days when I feel generally “low”.  The  feeling of loss is not as acute, but I am grieving that we may not have any more children. Yet after going through many years of my adult life longing for children, I am incredibly grateful to God for the two children we have with us.  God is so good to me.  I pray this situation, our baby’s life, our story will bring Him glory.  The hope of heaven is sweeter to me now, than it has ever been.

Psalm 26:8

Age 9 Diary

Introduction:  This diary has survived numerous moves and somehow still remains with me.  I didn’t post all of it.  Many entries were “We went to church” on Sundays, and “We watched Chips” on Saturdays.  A few names were purposely omitted. All spelling/grammar/punctuation errors are left intact for your reading pleasure.


Diary cover 1980

Diary cover 1980

Inside front cover:  From Aunt Esther, Christmas — 1979  I am 8 years old!!! and turning 9!!!

Tues. Jan. 1, 1980 Today we went to church, to start the year in God’s house.  The __family came to have dinner with us.  I showed them my Lay ‘N Egg game, my painting, my Fashion Plates.  We went to the farm and cut wood.  Tonight we are going to my grandma’s.  She will make Oleycooten.

Wed. Jan. 2  Today I had piano lessons.  There has been no school for 2 weeks.  For christmas I got a new bike, a purse, nail polish, nail remover and perfume.  I also got a comb, three necklaces, Fashion Plates and an Lay an egg game.  I also got this diary.  We have a dog his name is Spottie.  We threw are cat in the barn.

Thurs. Jan. 3 Today me and my brother went to the farm.  I played the piano in the house (Not in the barn) I called my friend Brenda on the phone.  Tonight we watched the Waltons.

Sat. Jan. 5  Today I went to my friends house.  Me and Sara went to the farm too play.  This morning me and mom changed my room around.  January 7 school starts again and we have to write EVERY SINGLE WORD in cursive!  YUCK!

Wed. Jan 9 1980 Today I went to school.  We had art.  Tonight Dad will finish paneling my room.  I found out I will have purple carpet.  It was Mom and Dad’s Aniversary.  I had piano lessons And it was hot lunch

Wed. Jan 16 1980 Today it was hot lunch at school.  I had piano lessons.  Susie S. called me up and told me a bunch of jokes.

Thus Jan. 17 Today I had school.  Tonight we watched the Waltons.  Fred went to Awana.

Friday Jan 18  Today I went to school Sara D.B. came over to play.

Sat. Jan 19  Today there was NO school.  I went to the farm with Dad.  Grandma, Grandpa and me went for a walk all the way to Nichoulse road.  I got new overalls.  Tonight we watched Chips.

Tues Jan 22 Today I went to school. (as usual.) I went to Kim’s house and played soccar.  She showed me her Barbie perfume maker.

Wed. Jan 23 Today I went to school. (as usual.)  In school it was hot lunch.  I had piano lessons.  Me and Fred hauled in wood. (we always have to. yuck.)  At hot lunch Mom came to my room.

Thurs. Jan 24 Today I went to school (as usual). I made cupcakes.  Mom went to the Gospel mission. Fred went to Awana.  Tonight we whatched the Waltons.

Friday Jan 25  Today I went to school (as usual) It was Dad’s birthday.  Tonight we went to Upper Crust pizza and the walked around in the mall.

Mon. Jan 28 Today I didn’t go to school because I got sick.  Tonight I watched Little house on the Prarie.

Sat. Feb. 2 This morning we whatched cartoons and I sorted out lids.  This afternoon Joel V.D. came over.  Tonight we watched Chips.

Wed. Feb. 6 Today I went to school.  It was hot lunch and Sara came over and we biult a fort in the snow.

Fri. Feb. 8 Today I went to school (yuck.)  Well tonight at school there was a play at school called the Electric sunshine man.  boy I wonder how they can memorize all those parts.

Sat Feb 9 Today there wasn’t any school (yeah) Fred, Randy and Dad went to a harvestore free dinner.  Grandma B. came over and gave me a perminent.  When dad and Fred came home, they were drawin names and we got the grand prize a harvestore picnic basket.

Sun. Feb. 10  Today we went too church.  After Church, we went to Aunt Lena’s and then too Grandma’s house for dinner.  Tonight Aunt Nellie came over.

Mon. Feb 11  today I went to school (of course) After school I went to Sara’s house and we went sking.  Tonight we had a baby sitter.

Thurs Feb 14  Today was valentines day.  I passed out my valentine cards.  Fred went to Awana And we watched the Waltons.

Friday Feb. 15  Today I went to school (of course.)  Tonight Aunt Grace, Uncle Berney, and Betty and Andy came over.  We smoked candy ciggars.


Original diary page

Original diary page. Apparently at some point I went through and put blue bingo stamps on every page.

Med May 14 Yesterday there was a tornado.  School is closed because of it.  Boy we’re lucky it didn’t catch us!

Sun. April 19, 1981 Sorry I haven’t written to you for about a year.  Well, I’m 9 years old and going on ten.  In March I performed a program at Miller Auditorium.  It was exciting.  There were about 60 other kids in it.  It took hard practicing.  Today is Easter.  We went to church.  The Senior Choir was pretty it sang with the trumpets, organ and piano.  Tonight our Senior Choir will sing with the Third Chirstian Reformed Church.  This year we have a Junior Choir.  I’m in it.  (I love to sing).  I’m als in Calvinettes, next Sunday is Calvinette Sunday.  I am still taking piano lessons.  I have been going to ROCK CLUB.  Miss Vandyk is my teacher.  I like her.  Next year she’s going to England.  We have a new car.  Kathy’s getting big.  We are having Spring vacation this week yahoo.  My boyfriend is _____________

Mon. April 20, 1981  Today is the first day of SPRING VACATION!  Aunt Esther babysat while Mom went to work for ________ at Friendship Village.  My boyfriend is_________but he doesn’t know it.  Tonight I’m going to Sue’s house to spend the night then tomorrow she will come to my house and go to the church skating party!

(From that point on, the diary is blank.)


Your comments are always welcome!



I want to be like my mom

It was many years before I was able to become a mom.  My first child was born a month before I turned 36.  When he would.not.sleep. on his back,  my mom visited and gently rolled him over on his belly in the bassinette.  She told me to  get some sleep and reassured me she would watch him.  I was a conscientious new mom and trying to follow all the “sleep on your back” rules.  Mom told me “You all slept on your tummies, and you all survived.  I will sit right here and watch his breathing the whole time.  Go get some sleep.”  I watched as she pulled up a kitchen chair right next to the basinette. For the first time in a few days, the baby and I both had a blissful time of sleep.  I think Grandma was pretty blissful too, having some one-on-one time with her first ever grand-baby.

That was the first of numerous times I discovered my mom has great advice about raising kids.

Always happy to be with her grandbabies!

Fast forward six years. A few months ago I called her, disturbed because this same child–who ended up sleeping on his belly from that moment on– was now caught in several little lies.  She told me “Seems like all of you kids went through a stage like that about his age.  You can’t let them get away with it.  Stick with it (discipline/consequences), and it will pass.”  She was right about that, too.

On a cloudy morning last week the kids were having numerous battles and I was overwhelmed. Time to call mom.  She told me to send them out in the yard to pick up sticks.  After another fight or two outside, it worked like a charm, and my husband was pleased with the big pile of sticks they set up to show him that afternoon.  “Make them run around the house a few times” is her cure for loud crazy kids in the house.

My mom is not a stand-out-of-the-crowd type of person in any way.  Unlike me, she is fairly shy.  She is quiet when there are lots of people around, but when she is with her kids or close family members at home, she can be the life of the party.  She is so much fun, and loves to laugh.  When times are tough, she hops on the John Deere Gator to get some fresh air at the farm, or she sits down at the keyboard to fill the room with a hymn.  She always thinks she should get a job!  (How many times has she told me that!?) However, she is always working, even though she doesn’t get a pay check.


Ready to go for a Gator Ride!



I told mom once that I felt her job was called “being available”.  When my dad calls to ask if she wants to run out to Filmore Equipment with him to pick up some parts, she is always ready to go.  When one of my brothers needs a ride to Martin Spring & Driveline to pick up their truck, she heads out the door to pick them up. She takes her sister-in-law grocery shopping nearly every week.  She hops in her car and drives an hour or two to visit her daughter (ME!) who is feeling overwhelmed with life, illness and  homeschooling her kids. This past week she took us all out for lunch.  Stopped and bought supper for us too, so I wouldn’t have to cook supper that night!   If she hears of someone who is ill, grieving, or having a hard time, she will bring them a hot meal–often that very evening. If you are ever at her house, you will hear the phone ring several times.  It is one of her daughters calling just to talk and share the events of the day.  Her sons call nearly as often,  and know there is always a meal ready if they are hungry.  She is a wonderful cook.  She knows 999 delicious ways to fix ground beef, after many years of being married to a dairy farmer.  Nothing makes her happier then taking a little road trip with dad, whether going to a toy tractor show or visiting antique stores and any place that fancies them along the way.  She doesn’t mind a little adventure now and then.


Always ready to go for a ride with dad.  On a combine, or in the car.


She can be a little crazy.  She will go buy a pack of Swisher Sweets every few years and smoke them with her daughters out on the porch while they laugh and laugh—all of them normally being non-smokers of course!


Mom knows how to have fun!

She has always shown by example how to respect the elderly.  As children, she took us to visit relatives and friends in the nursing home.  She still helps every month with a senior luncheon. When her dad wasn’t doing well in assisted living, she moved him into her house and took care of him.  She loved her parents and treasures their memory. My mom would never “toot her own horn”, and most of what she does is behind the scenes. She will blush like crazy to know that others are reading this about her.  She never spoke to us kids about these things like they were a “lesson to learn”.  She just lives it, and we see it.

She’s not a saint.  (Though you might consider her one, if you knew how I behaved during my teenage years.)   She is a sinner, saved by grace. To me and my brothers and sisters, and others who are privileged to know her well, she is a beautiful woman.  There are many godly women I admire and respect and consider to be heroines as well.  Of all of these,   I love my mom the most, and hope to be just like her.


My beautiful mom

My beautiful mom

Writing prompt leads to a random memory of Grandpa & Grandma B.

Rcently while attending a Word Weavers meeting, we were given the writing prompt  ”Just know that….”.  The timer was set for ten minutes, and we all began writing.  This is what I wrote, slightly edited:

Just know that it will be all right in the end.

Grandma and I were sitting on her back porch on a sunny spring day.  We each had a tall clear glass of lemonade with orange slices, and were looking at the garden and the bird feeder.  Grandma still had natural blonde hair with a little gray on the side.  She was always attentive, always ready to listen, and always ready to share a story from her own life.

This time we were talking about my upcoming marriage.  Grandma was helping  by embellishing  the wedding dress.  Not only was I getting married, but I was also moving far away from home to Atlanta, Georgia, where my to-be-husband lived.

Grandma had also moved as a young bride on the occasion of her wedding over forty years ago.  She grew up in rural Iowa, but when she was 19 she left Iowa and moved to Michigan to marry my Grandpa, Henry.

It was at this moment that Grandpa joined us on the porch.  He was wearing his classic blue overalls, dark gray short-sleeved shirt, and his black work shoes.  As he greeted us he smiled his huge, hearty grin and touched the brim of his hat, first taking it off, adjusting, and then putting it back on again.  He sauntered over to the table and Grandma scooted into the house to get him a glass of lemonade too.  It was 10 a.m., time for morning coffee (or in this case, lemonade).

Grandpa looked at me with his small sparkling squinted eyes and said “How’s my pal?”  I smiled back and said “Fine!”

When Grandma came back out he told us he had hauled two loads of gravel to Galesburg that morning.

Grandpa & Grandma B. enjoying a scooter ride.

Grandpa & Grandma B. enjoying a scooter ride.


Comments are always welcome and appreciated.