Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter, Daniel


I think the chocolate buttons are your favorite.

  When I think of Easter, I think not only of the religious significance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but I think of you.  I don't think any of my children enjoyed Easter as much as you did.  Each year, the snowy Winter would give way to crocuses sometimes peeking out in the snow, and then to seeing bursts of forsythia.  Then, the rural tradition of ducks, rabbits,  and chicks that would appear in each hardware or feed store.  We had rabbits when you were born and since we always had them, they weren't a driving force for you. Each year you wanted to take some ducks or chicks home.   Thank Heaven one year we brought home ducks, and another year a couple of years later, we brought home chicks.  I am glad you had the joy of these experiences. We still have some of the more long lived creatures that we bought when you were still on Earth, and we certainly still have many of their descendants. Of course, some of them have already joined you at Home.

I love you and my Dad wider than the oceans and deeper than the seas, and I always will.

            I remember our annual family Easter Egg Hunts.  We would have these on the Saturday after Good Friday and before Easter Sunday.  I would arm each of you with an Easter basket, and hide plastic Easter eggs, filled either with wrapped treats or with coins.   You loved the hunt probably more than the others. I still remember your bubbling enthusiasm for the annual hunt.  Did you know I have kept all those baskets ?    Last year, I saw some plastic Easter eggs that were fashioned as dinosaur eggs !   I thought of you as I snatched them up.  The outer shell is fashioned in green with a tough textured exterior.  These would be very tough to find in one of out hunts, against the green grass !   I will hold on to them. Eventually I will discover what to do with them.

           This year there will be no hunt.  With each of your siblings in their twenties except for our beloved adoptee, who is almost there also, there are no children or even teens to celebrate in quite this way.  Still, with the cool air, pollen, verdant grass, I remember so clearly, as if it were yesterday, or the day before, your joy in the celebration of Easter. And if I haven't said it recently, thank you for coming to Earth to be my youngest son. I wouldn't have missed it for the world, despite the fact that our time together ended sadly.   I love you wider than the oceans, and deeper than the seas.

The grass is deep enough for the hunt !

Our posts on prior Easters:

Concerning Daniel's ducks:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tomorrow Might be Too Late

(Photo:  )

          Yesterday, I drove a relative to a major urban medical center for some specialized health care. We were there for most of the day, and there was a great deal of waiting involved.  At one point, I saw a large family with a boy who reminded me a bit of Daniel, at least physically.   He looked to be about ten, and his family had been to one of the clinics and were making their way through the maze that is the medical center, for the long trip home.  The sprawling hospital complex is adjacent to a number of trains, and the boy wanted to go to see the trains. Of course, the boy should be able to take twenty minutes to see the trains come in and go out. Of course, the family wishes to get out of the city and have the bulk of their own long travel done before rush hour hits.  So many times, we as adults, forget how fragile our lives and the lives of our children really are.  So many times, we are embroiled in what we think is the real work of the world, when in fact, the stop and small the roses moments our family member needs, might be their last chance.  The boy kept asking.    Eventually, he said, "Can't we just look at the trains ?"   They kept walking.   I wanted to cry. I remembered in that moment, times when Daniel had exactly that tone.  There were so many things he wished to do, and although we did some of them, there were many things as simple as trains at the medical center that were left for some future time, and then, of course, his future, and our own was simply suspended.

       I am not suggesting we turn all of our children into indulged brats, but I am suggesting that when time is all you have to lose, that we hear their cries to do a particular thing, and try to make time when we can.  Tomorrow might be too late.

Steven Curtis Chapman                                  More to This Life


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Olivia's Heart Project


  I first saw a picture of Olivia Hoff on a webpage which memorialized the sons and daughters, sisters and brothers who passed  due to QT syndromes, a sudden and unexpected heart rhythm disturbance, often in an otherwise healthy person, which all too often produces a sudden death.   Olivia was only fourteen years old at her passing in 2004.

    Daniel joined Olivia on that same memorial page in 2008.   As I looked at each of the pictures of these people, I felt sorrow.  I knew only too well that the departure of each of them will leave a permanent hole in their families, an awful lot like a sudden sink hole.  Regardless of the faith of these families, the loss from their families lives on Earth will be palpable and permanent.

     I was fortunate however to have contact this year with Olivia's mother,  Corinne Ruiz.   Corinne has worked hard to create a living and working memorial to Olivia which may well help to prevent some of the additional losses of children, teens and adults to undiagnosed heart rhythm disturbances.

    This is the story of what happened to Olivia, in her mother's words.

     Corinne Ruiz founded Olivia's Heart Project, which exists to raise awareness of the 400,000 deaths each year from a sudden cardiac death.  10,000 of these annual deaths are children.   Corinne works hard to educate the public, be an advocate for learning CPR, and also to place AEDs (automated emergency defibrillators) in as many public places as possible.  She is also a co-organizer of heart screenings in her community and beyond.   An arrhythmic death is not a heart attack. It is a disturbance in the rhythm of the heart which may be due to malformation, an undiagnosed physical condition, or sometimes only an episodic or hard to catch alteration in an EKG.

      Olivia's Heart Project

        I have tried to bring awareness of this issue following Daniel's passing.   I think that Olivia's mom, Corinne has done an incredible job in terms of bringing awareness of this issue and of bringing AEDs starting in her own community,and reaching beyond.    I know that Olivia would be so proud of her, just as I am sure Olivia's brother is also.

Olivia's Heart Project Newsletter for April, 2014---  Good information here 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Spring Letter to Daniel



              I often go long stretches of time in acceptance of God's plan that you were called to Him and the rest of us are to remain here on Earth for some undetermined time.   I take great comfort in that you are at home with God and that my father, whom you knew well here, is with you, and that there are other relatives you did not know here on Earth who are there and who care about you.   Most of the time I am well, and I busy myself with the work on your animals, and the work of launching your brothers and sister from our nest.   We still mention you and laugh at things you said and did while you were here.
            Every once in awhile I see a child, or a child sees me, and sometimes they seem to seek me out.  Sometimes it's a child who has that inexplicable something that you so clearly had.  It was an energy, an exuberance, a joy of living that most people, even most children do not have.  You always enjoyed everything, from a Summer Day, to a quick rain, or an ice cream cone, almost as if you had read about it, knew all about it, but had not yet experienced it for yourself.  In those moments where one of those children talks to me, or sometimes even hugs me, I am reminded that the energy that you had returns to God, but that there is still joy and wonderful expectation in the world.  I also take these encounters to mean that God is allowing you to send greetings in the form of a child who is already here on Earth.
             Sometimes, that same hurt that came in the beginning sneaks up on me.  Sometimes, my soul feels raw and so terribly deprived that chronologically speaking, I have not seen you in the flesh for five years and four months.  In so many ways it seems as if we just spoke, and then in others, so much has happened that I want to share with you, even though, I know that you know most of it.
            I just want to tell you that I really appreciate seeing you and Dad in dreams.  I am doing my best here. Sometimes, with all the strife in the world, I am almost relieved that you are safe at home, and then other times, I feel a dull ache that so many things I hoped you would do on Earth will not happen here.  Poor Earth, Daniel went home.   You were so good at prayers, and I know you have continued to be.  Please pray for your siblings in a country and a world which has changed very quickly since your departure.  You and Dad are never far from my thoughts and my love for you both is a constant.  Love to you both !

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Prayers to Malaysia

(  )

   A few days ago, a Malaysian Air flight bound from Kuala Lampur tp Beijing disappeared from radar.  More than two hundred people were aboard including two infants, and souls from all over the world.   The nations in that region of the world looked for the plane, but to no avail.   Possible oil on the ocean as seen from the air turned out not to be.  A possible door in the water turned out not to be. There has been great focus on two of the passengers of this flight who were in possession of stolen passports. One theory is that they intended to defect from their nation, Iran.

           The cellphones of some of the people on that flight were still sending signals as late as yesterday according to one news source. This would not be if the plane had crashed before its expected arrival in Beijing.

            For the moment, no one knows what happened.  The hope is that some type of a hijacking occurred and that the plane and its passengers have landed somewhere that is simply not yet known to the world.  And so, we know next to nothing about what has happened here.  Until we do, our prayers are for the people on the Malaysian Air flight that is missing, and certainly with their families who are certainly having a difficult time.  Prayers and best wishes to you all.

Update:    March 16, 2014

I would generally write an updated summary of all of the news from a variety of sources.  However, this time, the best analysis of the data we have can be found here:

Interesting Theoretical but Educated Suppositions:


Monday, March 3, 2014

The Severity of the Snowstorm

There is snow everywhere.

                   There have been years here in Virginia where I haven't worn an actual coat through the entire Winter. The Winter of 1989 was one of those years.  It was a bit like a perpetual Spring.   Given this year, however, it's hard to believe we are in about the same zone.

                     This year we have had multiple ice storms, power outages, and deep snow.  The drifted snow was so deep in one storm this season, that the horses couldn't leave the barn, and spent the day in stalls listening to the only station that would still come in, NPR.    Today, it's March and overnight we had freezing rain, and then we were expected to have a foot of snow.   My husband headed off to work and came back when the truck moved sideways on the mountain road rather than moving forward.  He will work from home today.   James had an appointment with his doctor this morning which had been rescheduled the result of an ice storm about two weeks ago.  We had still planned to go today thinking that the interstate would be clear by the time our appointment rolled around.  The doctors office initially had planned to open late, and then as our appointment neared, they placed a recording on their answering machine which said that they had closed today "due to the severity of the snowstorm".

                    This is a bit ironic when you consider that the Wal-Mart and many other stores had already discounted gloves, hats, shovels, pet safe salt crystals for walkways, and all manner of windshield scrapers and brushes.  It's a good thing I have lots of tea.

                As I think of the birds eating from the birdfeeder, I am a little sad.   Daniel loved the snow and playing in it. It seems to me that he didn't get nearly enough playtime in the snow in the short twelve and a half  years he was stationed here on Earth.    I love you, Daniel.   Please tell my Dad I love him too. I miss both of you, every day, and most especially during snowstorms !

Friday, February 28, 2014

Updates on Ukraine

Ukrainian police guarding the Crimean Parliament building.( Photograph: the guardian  )

         It's been one week since I last mentioned Ukraine in a post here, and frankly I am overwhelmed at the prospect of reducing all of the complex happenings there in the last week, and reporting to you as much as I know, without giving as much import to these happenings as they deserve.
              First of all, in most places in Ukraine, due to the civil and not so civil unrest, shops are closed. So, it could be exceedingly difficult right now to buy food, medicine, or something you find you need for a baby, child, or person who has become sick or injured in the past week.   Please know that all of you are in our prayers, and that people in the US are praying for your safety and your delivery from these complex challenges.

              The US does propagandize a percentage of the news which is shown here, particularly when it's international news.  Viktor Yanukovych, whom I mentioned in the last post, has fled Ukraine and gone to Russia with his family citing personal danger. He still claims to be rightful leader.  Ukraine's Parliament has issued warrants for his arrest for the murder of protesters.  Meanwhile, Ukraine's Parliament has gone about forming a new government.Ukraine has a new acting president Oleksandr Turchynov.   This looks good overall, but then there was additional news.

               Crimea, a section of Ukraine has a great many ethnic Russians.  In the tensions which have emerged this week, some of them have been shouting, "Crimea is Russia !"    In addition, Russia has mobilized armed fighters, helicopters, and ships and sent them to Ukraine.   Mr. Putin's official word is that "These are routine exercises" and he has also said that Russian troops are there in order to calm tensions in the region.  However, armed Russian soldiers have taken over two airports in Crimea.  Of course, all of this sounds reminiscent of Russia's occupation of Georgia some six years ago where they said they weren't there, and continued to take ground and destroy buildings.

               My interest is that families remain safe during whatever transitions occur there. May Ukrainians stay safe and retain their sovereign borders.    As I watch instability and civil unrest in Ukraine, I can't help but wonder how long it will be before civil unrest comes to the United States, the result of potentially economic collapse, or perhaps the continued loss of our freedoms by our present executive branch, without adequate pushback from our legislative or judicial branches.  I have friends that are both Ukrainian and Russian, and I wish all of you to be safe.    Best wishes, Ukrainian families who are in turmoil, please stay safe.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Prayers for Ukraine

(Independence Square Under Protest in Kiev      Picture:  EPA Igor Kovalenko  )

         Unlike most American boys of his age, Daniel knew a fair bit about Ukraine, and even knew that it is no longer "The Ukraine" but now, simply "Ukraine".    Homeschooling gave us the benefit of being able to study some history and geography depth that would not normally be included in the contemporary public school curriculum, and so, he knew a great deal more about the world, and about other nations than most Americans do.   He also knew something about Ukraine for another reason.  My husband's family were originally from Switzerland in the 1630s.  One of his ancestors was a mayor who got into trouble with the powerful Catholic church of the day, when he stated that he believed that a baptism should be done on someone who was aware of the choice they were making, rather than have a religious baptism performed upon them as an infant.  In that day, this was heresy, and as a result, he and his his large family had to flee for their lives, and  went to Germany.  Eventually, when Catherine the Great gave forty acres or more to families willing  to settle in what became the Ukraine, my husband's ancestors lived there.    (Those who are interested in reading more about this can look up the Molotschna Mennonite Settlement in Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine )  My husband's ancestors eventually came to the United States when it became clear to them that the Mennonites were to be controlled by the government there.  Daniel knew our family history on both sides, and I think that knowledge of family history made world history much more relatable and therefore more interesting to him.

                   It has been interesting to me that although I have never mentioned our family's history in Ukraine, however transitory, that Ukraine has been one of the nations that reads this blog and my others, in the highest numbers.  I really hope that some of the things we discuss here is somehow inspiring or encouraging, especially to those is Ukraine presently.

                   These are very difficult times in Ukraine.  Although American mainstream television is quite insular and only reports on things that appear to be at the pleasure of our own present regime, we have learned about the present challenges from foreign news networks, such as France 24, NHK from Japan, DW from Germany, RT from Russia and of course, BBC from the United Kingdom.   There has been turmoil in Ukraine in past years.  Economist and educator Yulia Tymoshenko had been Ukraine's first female prime minister.  Although she had  been a prominent politician there, and has been jailed on what appeared to most of the world to be trumped up charges. She was pro Ukrainian integration into the European Union whereas her opposition would prefer alliances only with the Russian Federation.  This has left a number of Ukrainians feeling underrepresented and concerned.  Many of them wish to join the European Union rather than preserving an alliance with Russia that they feel has historically been their oppressor.

                       The present prime minister is Viktor Yanukovych. Mr. Yanukovych had promised to reduce the powers held by the prime minister and to leave more to the Constitution, however these changes have not come as quickly as most Ukrainians have wished.  There is also the perception that he may be a Russian puppet. Many Ukrainians believe he is guilty of corruption and of cronyism. Many Ukrainians are demanding that he step down.    There have been numerous violent protests and Ukrainian police and military have killed protestors and sometimes simply students who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  As I write this post, many Ukrainians believe that Ukraine sits on the verge of civil war.  Just a few hours ago, Mr. Yanukovych agreed to an early election.

                 For more than a year Ukraine has been on the verge of civil war.   Uncertainty and fear rule the day, and trust in the authorities is very weak.  I am reminded of trends which seem to be occurring here albeit a little more slowly, as well.  Please pray for the people of Ukraine who simply wish to live peacefully with equitable management. Please pray for the safety of the people of Ukraine.  We are thinking of you and your families.

This link explains some of the recent turmoil in Ukraine and their current regime's role in this:

Update:   February 22, 2014         It hasn't happened just yet but Parliament in Ukraine has voted to release Yulia Tymoshenko, who is currently in the hospital for a back ailment.    Parliament has promised to return to the Constitution as written in 2004.   However, the bulk of the people in Ukraine still wish to see Viktor Yanukovych removed.   These remain difficult times there.  Many people are concerned that such concessions may not be permanent ones.  They do not trust their present government.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day 2014

We have horses in chocolate colors and here we have horses made of chocolate.

           After the passing of a child, even five years down the road, holidays can be difficult and they can be added to a stack of holidays that just simply didn't live up to the ones you thought you could anticipate, had that child been alive.  The day is not only not what you had intended for yourself, but not what you had anticipated for your child.  This would be a Valentine's Day in which Daniel would have been 17 and only three months from his eighteenth birthday.  This might have been a special date night for him.
 Unfortunately, this is not the timeline we have on our own trip to Earth.  In this timeline we have time remaining for the rest of us here on Earth without him, and so we are faced with the challenge of making this time count and be meaningful, not only to those of us in the family who remain, but to Daniel also.
   This years Valentine's Day post will appear on another one of my blogs located at the link below.

 I hope that you too with find some joy and some meaning from it. I think Daniel would approve of the manner in which we spent our time today.

               Chocolate Horses

Happy Valentine's Day

"The Only Name (Yours Will Be)"          by Big Daddy Weave

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Messages from Daniel


  I can go quite a time now without seeing Daniel or hearing about him in a dream.    Last night however, I heard from him twice.    In the first dream, some time before three am, I dreamt that my husband and I were busily running an errand.    My husband told me in the dream, that Daniel would be out the rest of the afternoon.  He was out with his new friend and they were practicing target shooting with their new rifles.  In the dream I was disappointed, because I had hoped to see him and spend time with him when we got home that day.

                      Of course, I woke up and I don't have the option of completing an important errand and seeing Daniel here at the house afterward.

                       Later, I fell back to sleep and this time I saw Daniel.   He was as happy and as animated as I remember.   "Grandma (my husband's mother) said that I should stop by and see you." he said.     "Thank you, sweetheart.  You know how much I love you", I said.    "How are you ?"    I asked.    Then, he began to tell me of all the magical things he was learning and of all the people he was meeting.   He spoke faster than my brain could process, and I am afraid I didn't retain much.  I did get the idea that he is safe and well.

                    I have come to believe that although some of these types of dreams come from my own brain, creating a safe place where I can remember our beloved Daniel, but that these " sightings in dreams" don't all originate this way.   I have had dreams in which I have received information from Daniel and from my Dad, which turned out to be factually accurate later.

                  So, I believe that Daniel visited last night, just to let me know that he is fine, and is thriving.  He knows we love to hear from him.  Perhaps this is God's way of making our remaining time on Earth tolerable without Daniel, especially when life in the US right now, is so uncertain and scary.

                  If you have a loved one who has gone on ahead of you, perhaps you can hear from them also by being open to hearing from them in dreams.   I hear from Daniel and my Dad and others usually between 3 and 4 am, but sometimes as late as 5 am.   I certainly appreciate the encouragement !

Music                  Sarah Slean                      "Notes from the Underground"