I know Whom I Have Believed

My story of faith (Part 1)

Maybe I could keep it really sweet and simple and leave it at that:  When I was 5 years old, I recall praying in the corner of the kitchen while my mom was cooking supper. I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my heart, then shyly let her know.    I don’t recall what proceeded those moments.I know not why God_s wondrous graceTo me He hath made known,Nor why, unworthy, Christ in loveRedeemed me for His own.

If I could only leave my story there and say “the end”.  Sweet and simple.

Family life had deep Christian roots.  I was baptized as an infant and raised by Christian parents who read the Bible and prayed after our supper meal every day.  We attended church morning and evening  on Sundays, as well as  Sunday School, catechism classes and mid-week youth activities.  I was educated in a Christian school.  My parents were training up their children as they had been trained by their own parents. I am thankful that I personally knew several of my great-grandparents who also left a legacy of faith.

From that first prayer, and even before, the Holy Spirit was at work in my life.

The rest of the story  seems darker.  Maybe it didn’t have to be, but it has been.

True confession:  I haven’t often wanted to share the gospel with others.  Hard to explain why, but it’s true.  I am confessing this, red-faced and embarrassed.  When I think about sharing the gospel out loud, I think “What is there endearing about it? Who would believe this, and why?”  It is so much to take in, so much to explain.

It is also true and trustworthy, the Word of our Father and Creator, God.

In the gospel (the good news) of Jesus Christ there is incredible comfort and hope.  But on the surface, living life, there is also lots of trouble.  Jesus Himself tells us “In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33)

Friends, I have had trouble in this world.  (Haven’t we all?)

(God, please help me to express this the way I should and in a way that honors You.)

As a kid, I often thought I was getting the bad end of the deal.    I developed some pretty negative thinking.  In junior high, it only got worse.   Christianity, to me at that time was a set of rules that I performed to please people and keep out of trouble, not something I  took seriously.

I  started having issues at home.  Mainly, I thought life was unfair,  became angry, and caused a great deal of strife.

Outwardly, I conformed to all the rules.  I managed fairly well at church and school. Inwardly, I was upset all the time, and my parents and siblings bore the brunt of it.   I argued about everything.  Without being rebellious or wild in the  classic sense of the word, I tried to push all the boundaries. Primarily it was in how I communicated, which was disrespectfully and with a quick temper.  This wasn’t just for a small period of time.  It lasted pretty much all the way through high school.

When I was in 7th grade, my mom’s brother had been diagnosed with cancer, and it started to spread rapidly. He was a fun, kind uncle and  had a great sense of humor.  He also had a deep faith and trust in God, having suffered with cancer for several years. Because of him, I became aware of the brevity of life, and I seriously started to wonder if I would go to heaven if I died. As I watched what he was going through, I agonized about these questions for quite some time.

One day  I remember having  one of those terrible arguments with my parents.  I went and sat on the floor of my dark closet and cursed God.  Literally, I said swear words to God.  I felt sick inside about how I lashed out, but soon forgot.  (More about this in part 2, not yet published.)

In February, 1985  this dear uncle passed away, surrounded by family.  I loved hearing how his last words expressed  his certainty of  heaven.  I started to wonder, “Is heaven real?  Will I see him again? If it is real, will I see him again?”

Sitting in my bedroom one evening I opened the Bible to Psalm 34, and the words changed my life, forever. It was the first time the Scripture became real and personal to me. (To this day, it is my favorite Psalm.)  I found a measure of peace I didn’t have before, and comfort that God’s promises were true.

 I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

Psalm 34:4,18 and 22 (ESV)

Coming soon….part 2!

Wondering more about the gospel?  Here is a great place to start. 

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Things I’ve Learned in 2014

1.  Manufactured outrage and the news.  I was taken aback this summer when a fellow Word Weaver blogger used the term “manufactured outrage” and said she wasn’t “taking the bait” anymore.  I was allowing the news stories to take away my peace. Dwelling on them tainted my thoughts with fears and negativity.

Bowe Bergdahl

The Bowe Bergdahl story was a turning point.  Bowe is a beloved son and brother who was raised by a conservative Christian family.  The family attended a church in a denomination that I once attended.  I was baffled at the feeds I was seeing from conservative outlets and the accusations against his parents.  I came across this post which describes in better words how I was looking at the story and processing it.  Seeing the memes and headlines caused me to step back from all the news, the outrage, and the craziness. I won’t “fall for the bait” with the big headlines. I feel more compassion, realizing a situation is usually more complex than anyone can realize from one news story or Facebook page blurb.  (Not that I blindly trusted everything prior to this!)  While still interested in politics and current events, I’m holding the news at arms-length and feeling more peaceful inside; less stirred up.

2.  Consistent homeschooling produces results.  When I didn’t think there was any progress, it was still happening.  My seven year old suddenly took off with reading!  We had serious concerns about learning disorders  when he was reading backwards, mixing up words and switching letters around.  We kept at our phonics workbooks day after day, week after week (seemingly mundane at times), and all of a sudden—it clicked! He apparently reached a developmental milestone and there was rapid change. Now he is reading beyond where we were with our phonics lessons.  I’m amazed how far both children have come in a year, and it gives courage and incentive to stay the course.

3. Life is precious and there is a time for mourning.  We were shocked/delighted to find out we were expecting a baby in February. There were several weeks of hopeful anticipation, followed by a concerning ultrasound, followed by a confirming ultrasound that our baby was gone.  My heart has been grieving that baby all year.  The grief has finally eased up since getting past our “should have been” due date in late October.  That baby was real, that baby was wanted, and that baby was not insignificant in the kingdom of God.  That was the lesson learned.  There isn’t a shortcut for grieving.  Heaven will be all the sweeter to meet my little ones.

4.  In researching family history,  I learned of my rich Christian heritage.  My great-grandparents were common, every day people. They were poor immigrants who were rich in faith. They came to America in hopes of a better life.

On both sides of my family, great-grandparents, grandparents and parents prayed for their offspring to believe in God, to have faith in His Son. God has heard their prayers and answered them by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is my most important inheritance (not based on relationship with my relatives, but because it is now my own through the grace of Christ).  My prayer is that my children will also have this faith.

Deuteronomy 7:9 (ESV)

Four generations – 2007

Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome in the comments section below!

It’s October Twenty-Eight

This is a beautiful fall day in Michigan.  The sun is shining and the leaves are vibrant.  I’m busy homeschooling, cooking and running errands.

But I’ll admit it. My heart is feeling a little broken inside.

  1. The anniversary of my first marriage was 10-28 and it would have been twenty years today. God has worked all things for the good, and I am utterly blessed to be remarried to a kind, wonderful man.  However, 10-28 was significant in my life.  While I no longer mourn the ending of the relationship, I am reminded every year of the death of a marriage.
  2. It was on 10-28, a few years ago in the doctor’s office that we learned we were having a miscarriage, and would never meet our third baby.
  3. Our fourth baby was also a miscarriage and today was a possibility as a due date.

I wonder why God arranged for those losses to be remembered on the same date?

I don’t know a specific reason it happened that way in my life, but God tells us Himself:  It’s not a bad thing to grieve.

 October 28 or not, there are days where we are called to mourn.  Perhaps for ourselves, perhaps with others.

Despite the pain, mourning comes with promises.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Matthew 5:4

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18

Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. Psalm 55:17

Probably for the rest of my life, October 28 will be a mourning day.  Yet it is also true that there are beautiful ways that God has “turned my mourning into joy”. I have been comforted by Christ, the sure hope of eternal life, and the kindness of friends and family.  I sure would love to have a newborn to welcome into our home this month.  But I will see my babies someday.  I long to hold, snuggle them and kiss their faces.  Bliss! 

Today I can also remember that someday there won’t be anymore October twenty-eighths.

How about you?  Do you have any “October 28’s”?  How has God comforted you?

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  

Josephine’s Birth

“I see death standing at the door, but God will take care of the baby.”

These were the last words Anna Runia Van Dyk spoke to her husband, Meindert.

Anna and Meindert were Dutch immigrants.  The couple arrived in the United States in 1921 on the ship Rotterdam along with their three young children in hopes of opportunity and freedom.  Sidney, the 3 year old middle son had cerebral palsy. They carried him off the ship onto Ellis Island covered in a blanket, hoping that no one would look at him too closely.  John and Anna feared that he would not be allowed into the United States.  They were relieved when he made it through immigration without being noticed.

The family settled in Sully, Iowa so they could live near Anna’s twin sister.  A few years later, Anna was expecting their fourth child, but there were complications.  Anna had toxemia of pregnancy.  Baby Josephine was delivered on April 30, 1924 weighing less than five pounds.  Sadly, Anna died on her 35th birthday, two days after giving birth.   Meindert was left alone with a premature baby in the hospital, children at home and a job working on a farm.

Twin sister, Josie and Anna Runia.  This picture was taken in the Netherlands before they came to the United States of America.

Twin sisters, Josie and Anna Runia. This picture was taken in the Netherlands before they came to the United States of America.

Meanwhile,  Dick and Jennie VanSant had been married for ten years and were managing their farm in Oskaloosa, a couple of hours away.  They had prayed for  years that God would bless them with children of their own, but now they were in their thirties and hope was fading.  They heard through their church about a tiny baby who would require careful attention.

Dick and Jennie hurried to make preparations. When they arrived at the hospital the doctor warned them not to get too attached, because the baby was very small.  There were not intensive care units for premature babies in 1924.  Her survival was uncertain.

Jennie took Josephine in her arms, the smallest baby she had ever seen.  The doctor’s advice (not to get attached) was ignored. Josephine was dearly treasured by Dick and Jennie.  She was so tiny that she could not suck from a bottle.  For weeks Jennie fed her cow’s milk from a glass dropper, every hour around the clock.  A month after her birth, she weighed just over five pounds.

God took care of the baby, just as Anna Runia Van Dyk said He would.  Josephine survived.

The Birth of Josephine blueandgreentogether.com

Josephine being held by Dick VanSant.

Within a couple of years, Meindert was making plans to remarry, but this also meant he would be moving hundreds of miles away to Kalamazoo, Michigan.  He had a difficult time leaving Josephine behind.  Before he left, there were two things he wanted to tell the VanSants:

  • You may keep Josephine and raise her as you see fit, but you may not adopt her.  Her last name will still be Van Dyk
  • I promise I will never take her away from you.

Josephine was my grandmother.  She lived to the age of 82, having been married fifty-nine years with five children, nineteen grandchildren, and  (at that time) thirty great-grandchildren.

Josephine and Karen in 2005.

 

For more pictures and information on Josephine’s birth family, go here.

Further genealogical information and related links:

  1. Toxemia of pregnancy is now called pre-eclampsia.
  2. Anna Runia VanDyk death record information.  The record says she died at Mercy Hospital, but family members were told by Josephine that she was born at the hospital in Oskaloosa.
  3. Josie Vander Weerdt (twin sister of Anna Runia VanDyk) death record information.  She lived to be 90 years old.  That’s how I realized Anna must have died on her own birthday and what age she was. Anna’s death record only gives an (incorrect) estimated birth year.
  4. Sidney VanDyk, the brother of Josephine who had cerebral palsy resided at the Christian Psychiatric Hospital in Cutlerville, Michigan (now called Pine Rest) after Meindert moved to Michigan to remarry.  He died in 1950 at the age of 33.
  5. The ministers that may have been involved in placing Josephine with the VanSants would have been Rev. Ralph Bolt of Sully Christian Reformed Church and  Rev. Charles Spoelhof of First Christian Reformed Church based on where their charges in 1924. Source:  Christian Reformed Church Ministers Database
  6. The Statue of Liberty- Ellis Island Passenger Search  provided information about the ship and year that Meindert VanDyk arrived in the United States.
  7. Josephine Balkema’s obituary.
  8. Previously on this blog I wrote about Edith Stek.  She was the sister of Jennie (VanSant) Sjaardema.
  9. Also wrote a little story about Henry and Josephine here.
  10. A blog post about my many unique connections to Oskaloosa, Iowa over the years.

Stay tuned!  In the future I hope to share more stories about my grandma’s remarkable life, including how she reacted when her dad, Meindert came to visit her when she was a young girl and how she met my grandpa.

Special thanks to Josephine’s daughters (Mary, Esther and Joanne) and Jean VanDyk (daughter-in-law of Meindert), who helped with several details of this story.

 

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.

Eda Stek

Eda Stek

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.

Eda Stek (far right) with family.

Eda Stek (far right) with family.

 

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).

******************

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.

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.

pizap.com14019241652592

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

 

Blessings

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

The faith of Eda Stek

Back then, they called her a mongoloid.  This is now considered a derogatory term, but it was the norm when Eda was a child growing up in Iowa.  Eda Stek  was one of eleven children, born in 1903.  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 Stek

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 Eda a long time, 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 for Eda in Iowa would have been a poorhouse.

When she stayed with her sister Nellie’s family, she  had her own room in the large farmhouse full of children.  Eda was given the room above the stove to help keep her warm.  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 to their mother, and Eda was spared having to live her life in a poorhouse.

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 more and more 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 very well.  Eda’s days were drawing to a close.

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

MAMA!  PAPA!  Pretty Pretty Pretty!  

Eda sunk back into her pillow and died, moments later.

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).

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