Shelly's tatoo. Pretty cool, eh?

Months it's been since we posted on the blog last.

Not sure why, it's certainly not a lack of things to say. Probably more of a lack of desire to say them. Our main reason for wanting to do this blog is to let you take a peak at what is goin on in us as we grieve, heal, and continue to live life. But most words seem rather hollow when trying to capture the feelings that we experience right now, so sometimes it seems easier to not try at all.

In some ways, life has gotten a bit easier since August 1st. In some ways, things have not gotten easier.

For four of five weeks after Ava passed away sanity slowly crept back into our somewhat insane minds. Then our church plant began and we had to begin to try to function in society again. I speak just for myself here (josh) but things haven't gotten a whole lot easier since then. I'm not sure why.

There are no real doubts as to whether or not God has a plan in all this, but the fact that we may never understand that plan is troubling. It's not that I want to ask God why... I really just want to ask Him to put things back like they were. I guess that is rather obvious.

This post is such a downer! Sorry to seem so glum. Things are not bad right now... there are many many things to be thankful for... these feelings are all just part of the process of making this compute.

Keep us in your prayers, and don't be afraid to write.

Josh (Shelly is in the bath or in bed!)

Another Day

Life continues here at the Buck household. Seven weeks today since the "accident". Funny how we call it an accident. I think of an accident as spilled milk or a sprained ankle. Not quite huh? The past few days have been better with the kids. Noah is starting to get acclimated to going to school and going to sleep in his big boy bed without his mommy or daddy. Zoe continues to ask for Ava but does not seem upset by it. Today she said she was going to go to the store to "buy more Ava". Okay break my heart. What a doll. We're still waiting for life to feel a little bit more normal. Waiting...

The church plant seems to be moving along. Our first official service is October the 9th. It keeps getting closer and closer and there is still so much to be done. Please pray for our sanity!!! Josh is walking a difficult line of needing to be at work a lot and wanting to be home. He is being pulled in many directions and this is hard for him. Pray that he may make wise decisions for our family and for the church.

Life is getting busy again. Lots of weekends coming up with lots of plans. This is nice in some ways and difficult in others. It's nice to have things to stay occupied but being "normal" can be hard. You don't want to completely lose it at a social event. It can create a bit of an uncomfortable situation. :-) We have some friends coming in for a visit from NYC next weekend and it should be fun.

That's all for now. Hopefully everyone is doing well. We love to hear from you all and hear how you all are doing. Love, love, love...

Back Home

Well, it's official. We have moved back into our house in Eastown. Josh and I spent the night here on Friday night and made the decision to give it a go. We brought the kids home yesterday afternoon. They were both excited to be back and surprisingly, hadn't forgotten the place. Being in the place that they remember Ava last, it has brought many questions and comments. Zoe seems to understand that Ava will not be coming back but Noah does not. I found a can of formula today and he was somewhat upset that I told him Ava didn't need it. It has been very difficult to talk to the kids so concretely about the fact that Ava is in heaven with Jesus and won't be coming back. Noah is convinced she is sleeping or with grandma. Pray that we will have wisdom in what and how we explain this to them.

It is surprising to me that we can move back to this house after everything that happened here. I get a real sense of sadness here but I do not feel traumatized by the memories. I truly believe it is because of the power of prayer. All of you praying for us has done incredible things for us. Please continue. It has officially been six weeks today but it feels like about six hours. Everything is so fresh. We still are in dire need of your prayers.

We redid the room where the accident took place. It was in the girls room (I will always think of it that way). We prepared Zoe for a big change in the way things looked and were set up. She was very excited to see her "pink bedroom". When we entered she was yelling "pink bedroom" but then stopped quickly and asked, "Where's Aba's bed?" (Both kids call her Aba as the V sound has not yet come along!) We explained that Ava was gone and sleeps with Jesus. Is there sleeping in heaven? I sure hope so as it is something I love to do.

Noah rode the bus to school today for the first time. He goes to school five days a week for a half day. We were not sure how he would do for his first bus ride. I figured if he got upset I would ride with him but he just looked at Josh and I with big eyes like he wondered what the heck was going on. Which leads me to a specific prayer request. We have been trying to be understanding with the kids when it comes to things they have not wanted to do. For example, Noah is wanting to go to sleep with us at night. We have been allowing him to fall asleep with us and then moving him to his own bed. There are small examples like this everywhere. Many of them do not cause a problem but some of them may be the start of some bad habits. Pray that we will be able to decipher when it is related to everything going on and when they are just trying to manipulate us. They do that? you ask. They both loooove to. Pray that we have wisdom in when to discipline and when to be lenient. When to put our foot down and when to just pick them up and hug them.

That's all for now. Can't think of anything else really exciting to say. Hope all you guys are doing well. Love you all.



Wow, I can't believe that it has been so long since we posted last. Life is very busy right now, but not too busy... good busy.

We are still healing... duh. The process is so much more complicated than I could have imagined. To be totally honest, things haven't gotten any easier in the past 3 weeks. I am not sure if they will for a while. We are at a place where we can breathe. We don't really feel good, but we could feel worse.

Dad and Noah Halloween 2003

One tiny sliver of the tragedy of August 1st was the timing of it. It was really day one of the church plant. We spent about 3 weeks together as a family (Me, Shelly, Noah, Zoe, Jason, Holly, Elijah, Emmy, Zeke, John, Jean, Mike, Cindy, Geoffrey, and Derek) talking, crying, laughing, trying to eat, swimming, and really focusing on nothing exceptdoing nothing except healing, but at some point, we knew that we really had to hit the ground running with Greenhouse.

That has happened, and we are now in our offices at Common Ground Church. Preview services start this weekend (Sun. @ 6:00), and our official kick-off is October 9th.

We have been intensely focusing on team building and fund raising in the past 2 weeks. Last week we got our first round of letters out, and this week Jason and I visited each of the 5 zone meetings in the West Michigan District. We are also going to have a core team cook out at our house this Friday evening. Shelly and I decided that this would be a good time to stay the night at our house for the ifrst time, so Friday night is it.

Keep us in your prayers. We are not sure what to expect Friday night, but we are anxious to stay a night. We will soon decided wether or not we are going to keep the house.

We will keep you posted, sorry this one took so long.

God bless you

Aches, Sweat, and Such

It is a daily slow dull ache. Details, things that catch you by suprise, smells, strollers...

Today on the way home from the office I drove by a medical building that just four weeks ago I was sitting in front of with all three kids while Shelly had an appointment. Things were so normal then. But today, that seems like a different life ago. We are calling then Josh and Shelly version 1.0 and now Josh and Shelly version 2.0.

Seeing that building sent me into a 6 hour funk. I don't know why, but the normality of what we had was so poingnant today...

Last Friday night, while we were still at the water-park/hotel, Jason, Holly, Shelly and I discussed our going back to work schedule. At this point, church planting is a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because the schedule can be so flexible, but it is also very tough because ther is no boss handing me a paycheck every Sunday. To make this things work, we have to GO AFTER IT. So this is what we discussed last Friday.

We decided that we would hit it hard last Monday. So this week we have been moving into our office and scheduling more Sundays for support. We cleared out one of the larger upper rooms, repainted, hung new lights, bought some cheapo office furniture, and began to move our books and stuff in. We worked up plenty-o-sweat.

Speaking of meeting space, I wanted to pass along an amazing blessing that God has dropped in our collective Greenhouse lap. For months we have been finagling, scheming, schmoozing, and generally working our ambition all we could... to no avail...

But a few months ago we bumped into Pastor Tom Archer from Common Grounds in Eastown (Fulton Heights)... As we developed this relationship Tom began to see our vison for Eastown, and we began to see his shephards heart. To get to the point, their fantastically big, old, charming, stain glass windowed, brick church is going to be available for us to meet in on sunday nights and is open for office space for a ridiculously good deal (details withheld out of good manners.) But let me tell you, they have really stepped up to the plate for us.

Here is a picture...

Looks like we are going to be starting earlier in the fall than we previoiusly thought. That is a good thing!!!

God is in control and we aren't. That is one of the only things I know, but it is a good thing. Just imagine all the chaos if I were God.

Blessing on you all...


First day back at church in Kalamazoo so josh could lead music. spent the majority of the service crying as everything seems related to Ava. Every song we sing, every Bible verse mentioned, and just being back at church without her. Lots of love from our church family. Then had a Greenhouse core meeting tonight here at mom and dad syswerda's. went well. we're getting psyched to kick this thing off. gives us something to concentrate on, maybe a small break in the grieving process. continue to be amazed at god's mercy and comfort he has shown us at a time like this. we serve an awesome god. so cliche but proving more true every day.

written by Shelly

Shelly's Reflections

Just got back from hanging out with some friends with a new baby girl. Surprised at how much our lives have changed in the past three weeks; from being the mom and dad of an infant and two toddlers to just two toddlers. It seems like my head is starting to understand a small fraction of it but my heart has a long way to catch up... maybe it never will. Josh and I have a lot of work and decisions to make in regards to our house (staying or selling), financial situations, and family stability issues. We are trying to see what is best for our kids while trying to make decisions that will keep us sane for the time being. I was listening to a Matt Redman song (I think that's who sings it) where the lyrics are "blessed be the name of Lord" and then goes on to say "you give and take away, you give and take away, buy my heart will choose to say Lord blessed be your name." I pretty much have to just whisper through the tears but we do hold this as the ultimate truth. God has been incredibly faithful to us through this.

Posted by Shelly

Family and Friends


Shelly and I wanted to take a second to tell you all how much we appreciate your love, support, and prayers. The amount of cards, phone calls, and visits the past two and a half weeks have been overwhelming (a positive thing!)

We have been staying at Shelly's parent's house in Allendale. They have a wonderful piece of property and a beautiful house that I have always loved coming to (not to mention how much Shelly and the kids love being here)... I guess when it comes down to it, it is a good place to heal. But even being here gets tiresome with so many people in and out. We have had the blessing of having two brief times away in the past two weeks. The Friday following the graveside service and open house, we took off for 5 nights to a beautiful beach house on the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan (thanks D & K).

Then Thursday afternoon the weather was kinda crappy, so we went to this hotel / indoor waterpark thingy (see pic)... and Noah and Zoe... and Elijah, Emmy, Ezekiel (my niece and nephews) had a fantastic time.

Our kids have been amazing through this whole experience. At first Noah kept asking, "weao babby Abba?" (that is what he called her, Abba). Zoe did the same, but has now picked up on the fact that, "Ava upa sky... Ava upa sky wit Jesus." Don't ask how our little 25 month daughter picekd up on that fact, but she says it so matter of factly... , like, duh you guys. Of course that is whtat is going on.

A Memorial

I have been fighting this for a couple years now (since whenever it was that blogs became the "it" thing to do) but I have finally given in and begun to write a web log.

Many of you know about the recent tragedy in our family. On August 1, 2005, our little Ava Nicole left this Earth after only being here with us for 3 short months. She was our third child, and she brought so much joy to our lives.

No sentence that Shelly or I might compose could capture the pain that we feel right now. No little bit of blogging will make Ava any more present to us. But hopefully as you read some thoughts or stories about her, or as you sense healing progressing in our lives, this blog will serve as a memorial to her, and to the hope that we have in the promises of Christ.