8/15/07 11:35 p.m.

Hard day today. For both Josh and me. We didn't even know if we'd make it to therapy we had such a hard time in the van on the way over. We were glad we went after we got there. Josh tried out a power chair and then worked on emptying his leg bag into the toilet. We all had some good laughs.

Josh's feet are still a mess. He got in bed a bit after 9:00 tonight and has been playing on his computer. He can keep his feet up while in bed which helps with the swelling. It's not made too much of a difference thus far. Please be praying that this situation is resolved soon. It is very taxing on Josh and such a discouragement.

Josh's birthday is Saturday. He will be turning 31 but doesn't want to do much to celebrate. We are going out with friends on Friday night which should be fun.  When I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said he just wanted to forget it. Not exactly the answer I was looking for. :-)

Huge praise- Ephram slept 9 hours last night! It's a record by a long shot! We are praying it continues.

Just a quick update. Now I'm off to sleep. God bless!

8/14/07 2:30 a.m.

I can't sleep. I was laying in bed thinking when I realized I should let all of our blog friends know that my dad is doing well. To my surprise, my mom had already posted. One less thing for me to write!

Today was another busy day of therapy and doctor's appointments. Josh worked on the sliding board and may have had a breakthrough. His feet were placed differently before he began to move his bottom along the board and he moved soooo much better. We are praying this is a major step in the right direction.

We had an appointment with Josh's spinal cord doctor today. The appointment was at 2:15 and we didn't see the doctor until 5:30. To say we were frustrated was the understatement of the century. It was so ridiculous that we had the giggles about how much longer it could possibly be. My poor sister was watching all six kids here at our house with a very fussy Ephram on her hands. I think she was more than relieved when we arrived home. Thankfully, a meal was sitting on the counter which was a huge blessing on a day like today. It's amazing how God even takes care of our little needs.

A prayer request: Josh's feet are not doing too well. He has an ingrown toe nail that may cause dysreflexia, a blister on the side of his foot about the size of a very small plum, and the swelling is pretty significant. He is being sent to a podiatrist for the toe nail and backing off his nerve pain medication to see if it helps with the swelling. Please pray that these situations are resolved. Josh has been spending much of his time in slippers instead of shoes which makes him feel like he looks even more disabled than he already does. This may seem insignificant, but when the littlest things tend to get you down, you notice things.

I'm going to try this thing called sleep again. Much love.

8/13/07 3:30 p.m.

An update on Shelly's dad for all of you out there in bloggerland. He's fine. We got home from the hospital a little while ago. He had a stress test earlier today. It showed a small blockage in the lower portion of his heart and some muscle damage. But nothing they thought was an immediate danger. They left it up to him whether to stay and have it taken care of or think about it. We're thinking... The dangers of the procedure, according to the doctor, are about as great as his danger of having a major heart attack from the blockage. So, we're home for some time of quiet and stress relief and figuring out how to continue to handle the difficulties that are such a part of our lives now. Our love for our kids makes all of this truly a challenge to handle at times. It causes us so much pain to see them in pain, as any of you who are parents would understand. We're wading our way through this heartbreaking time, trusting that, as Josh shared at Daybreak yesterday, God has a definite purpose and plan in all of it. I have a quote above my desk from Chuck Swindoll that speaks truth: 
In the darkest nights come the  sweetest songs,
in the strongest winds grow the deepest roots,
in the loneliest places come the most profound character traits.
The things we run from are the very things that make us great.

We appreciate all of your prayers and concern. 

Still trusting...
John's wife
Shelly's mom
Josh's (favorite) mom-in-law

8/12/07 10:45 p.m.

Josh spoke this morning at Daybreak in Hudsonville. The topic of his message was pain. We seem to know a bit about pain. His message even touched me, and I pray it did others as well.

Last night was a pretty rough night for me. I was feeling like I was teetering on the edge of going off the deep end. I say this a bit jokingly, but I had a rough night. I ended up calling my mom asking her to help me find where I was going (I am perpetually lost- even in the city I have grown up in). She heard me going off and she and my dad were trying to help. This stressed my dad out who just wants to protect his "little" girl.

So, today, my dad is still stressed. He stayed home this morning to watch my niece and nephews whose parents were away at a wedding. My mom came to the service to hear Josh speak and hand out fliers. I ended up getting a call around noon that my dad was having chest pain. He ended up at the emergency room. He is now at Spectrum Butterworth, spending the night, and having tons of tests run. They believe he had a heart attack and will possibly be placing a stint? tomorrow. When we were all in Miami, at the time of Josh's accident, my dad had his first heart attack. Since then, the doctor said to avoid stressful situations. Is this a joke? Don't kids love to bring stress into their parents lives? Sorry, that was a sick joke.

Anyway, please be in prayer for my dad. Please also be praying for my patience level as it is not so great the past few days. Josh has done an amazing job trying to keep me sane and from not completely losing it. It's hard for him when their is so little he can do for my physically. He does more than he realizes just talking to me and being the clear head in our relationship.

8/8/07 9:00 p.m.

So, I've been catching some flack for not posting sooner. :-) Our lives have been absolutely out of control over the last 2 weeks, but it seems to be slowing down a bit. Lots of doctors appointments, meetings, therapy sessions, and the list goes on.

This past Thursday, Josh spent the day recording a commercial for Mary Free Bed. We thought it would be an easy way to show our appreciation for what they have done for Josh, a real "quick" tape. We were so very wrong! When the cars and trucks started pulling in, you'd think that we were taping a movie in Hollywood. These people take their jobs very seriously! :-) There were so many lights and power cords, we blew breakers!  There was a hair and makeup person, a gaffer (who used one of Josh's wheelchairs to move the camera), and many other people you would expect. Lunch was catered in. The whole situations  was quite comical- not quite what we were expecting. We had a great time getting to know new people and spending some time with friends from MFB. The commercial will be running on the major network channels during the news and those kind of shows. You'll have to watch for it.

Josh has had an okay week. He has had many ups and downs, times where he is feeling encouraged and times when he is more than frustrated. He made a grilled cheese sandwich for OT today (with some assistance) and it took an hour. After he was done, he was quiet and asked if he would ever really use a skill like that. Just trying to open a bag of bread is a huge task. To get the butter open, he slammed his hands on either side of the big butter container and the top popped off (along with some extra butter). That was pretty ingenious.  He continues to work at getting stronger- lifting weights, doing prone exercises with his shoulders and those sorts of things. His PT is on vacation this week so it's a bit different than usual. (Happy Birthday Kristy!) Josh has continued to stay up waaaaaay to late playing his beloved computer games. Some friends of his caught wind of how much he was enjoying Sim City so they blessed him with a few more! :-) Thanks guys... I think! :-)

All of the kids are doing well. Ephram is sleeping better at night. He now usually has a 6 hour span where he sleeps without waking up. This is much more manageable. He did sleep all afternoon so we are hoping he will still sleep tonight! He is smiling all the time and starting to laugh. He is getting quite the little personality and we are having so much fun with him!  We had some family pictures taken the other day, and he would not cooperate. Oh well. If you happen to see the pic, you'll have to take note of the little boy with the flailing arms- he would not sit still!

I have had my ups and downs as well. I sometimes wonder how people learn to live like this the rest of their lives. There is not a moment's peace around here if we are trying to stay on top of everything. Sometimes I just forget the cleaning and am happy if the house is somewhat picked up. I have taken to going to bed before Josh and getting up when he is ready for bed. This way, we both get the sleep we want and neither of us is waiting on the other. If he goes to bed when I'm ready, he's awake for a few hours before he's ready to sleep. If I stay awake until he's ready for bed, I'm an absolute grump the next day! This momma needs more sleep! 

I have been in prayer over where God wants to use us after this accident. I am starting to feel him leading me in a specific direction so we will see where that takes us. Josh is still praying and wondering how God wants to use him in this whole ordeal. He is speaking at Daybreak on Sunday. So far, this is how he has been telling people his story. On Sunday, he will be speaking on pain. God has allowed us to experience quite a bit and hopefully his words reach others for Christ.

Even in the midst of all this, God continues to bless our family and we are thankful for the life we share together. We continue to go through many challenges and changes and are still trying to figure out how this whole thing works, but we are thankful to do it together.

Prayer Requests:


-Patience with all the difficulties Josh faces daily

-Spiritual growth and a reliance on God through this trial

8/1/07 11:45 p.m.

Today was the 2 year anniversary since Ava went to heaven. The day was very similar to today, here in West Michigan. It was in the low 90's and not a cloud in the sky. I remember sitting on the hill in front of our house on Auburn, with my mom, waiting for the paramedics to give us updates on their attempts at CPR. I remember the sun beating down on us and being aware of the heat but not really feeling it. That day forever changed who I was. I went from being a carefree, innocent mother of three to who I am today. So, who am I? I'm still figuring that one out. I know I am no longer carefree- I spent many nights checking on my three living children, making sure all are breathing. When you find your child like I found Ava, your innocence is forever lost. I miss that innocence but also treasure the changes that have taken place. I now know that no matter how bad things get, I can still rely on God. When things are so bad you don't think you can take another breath, he is often the most real thing you feel. It's when things start to feel a bit more normal that the desperation of needing God seems a bit less poignant. I know that I pray for my kids so much more than I did before we lost Ava. I never felt like I didn't pray for them, I just know how desperately they need it now. I feel honored to be able to go before a God who loves my children more than I and has all of our best interests in mind.

Today was a day of traditions that are just beginning. This being only the second anniversary, we are still trying to feel out what we think is important to do on this day. We went to the cemetery, let off pink balloons, talked about what we remember the most about Ava, and prayed. All of our kids were climbing all over her headstone and posing for pictures. Ephram never made it out of the car, he was taking his afternoon nap. I brought him out to the cemetery a few weeks ago so he has already "met" his sister. We then went out to Grand Haven and sat outside at a local burrito joint and just spent time together. The kids enjoyed running around in the sand and just being together. After this, everyone else went swimming and Josh and I headed off on a walk and got some ice cream. After nearly passing out from heat stroke, we decided to find someplace air conditioned and headed off to see a movie. We had a nice time together and had some time to ourselves to just talk.

Tomorrow is a busy day so need to head off to bed. I did want to mention some close friends of ours who are in desperate need of our prayers. I know how many of you pray for us when you read this so I thought I would put this out into blog land. Tiffany and Jason are in Ohio, adopting a baby who was just born at 24 weeks. You can imagine all the implications of a baby born this early. Isaac continues to fight but they all need prayer. You can visit their blog at tiffanyandjason@blogspot.com  Hopefully the link works, I've never tried to create one like this before (and I'm not the most computer savvy girl on the planet).  Much love to you all.

Prayer Requests:


-guidance in regards to moving to a new house

-for God to show us where to go from here, what does he want us to be doing in regards to this ministry we are setting up?