Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Job security . . .?

Katie 13 months - Mike 1 month
As I traveled my path as a single mother I was often subject to worry. Things are difficult when you are a single mom with two kids and when one is given the label “handicapped” (not my label but the one given with the diagnosis of CF at the time) – well, you can only imagine.


I was very blessed to be working at Air Wisconsin when my oldest two were born. I stopped working after Mikey’s diagnosis of CF and cleaned houses, bar tended and babysat to help make ends meet. Young children have lots of needs and the added expense of CF was worrisome.

Psalm 37:25 I was young and now I am old, 
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken 
or their children begging bread.

When I decided to go back to work full time I set my sights on the best company in the area – KC. It took a few weeks but I was hired. God blessed my efforts as I was promoted 5 times in 2.5 years. But it appeared that while I worked full time Mike’s health would decline. I took the money I had saved in my 401K and decided I could make it until Mike was in first grade if I was given Social Security due to Mike’s special needs. Lots of other CF families received the extra help – I was told it would be no problem. WRONG. I was denied. I cleaned more houses and did what was needed to make ends meet.

I was completely out of the job market for 7 years. I figured my skills were probably out dated but I needed a job so I studied up and applied. I was once again blessed to get a job that paid the bills. I was hired full time at Oshkosh Truck Corporation where I had worked right out of High School. Amazing that God would bless me with steady work. At all three places, Air Wisconsin, KC and Oshkosh Truck, I was always given the time I needed to spend every minute with Mike in the hospital. He was never left alone as a child. If I wasn't with him his father was. Never alone.

I left the job market again to go to College. I went after a business degree. My hope was that I could increase my earning potential to be able to afford the increasing expenses of CF and a future transplant. I was sure that with a degree I wouldn't have to worry so much. I had over 2 years under my belt when I decided to marry Paul and shortly thereafter was expecting little Richie. Having a new baby, I went into a completely different career that would meet our needs but was a huge stretch from my IT background – childcare. There was no reason I should have been any good at running a child care center. But God continued to bless my efforts and Jesus’ Little Lambs prospered despite my lack of education and experience.

Philippians 2:13 "for it is God who works in you 
to will and to act according to his good purpose."

After 10 years of working at the church/child care God blessed us with our David. The hours got to be too much and I left the job market once again. Being an older mom was tough. I stayed home and did child care in my home until David was old enough for school.

I thought for sure my earning potential would be close to nothing but God stepped in once again and allowed me to work at one of the best employers in Fond du Lac – J. F. Ahern. Again, there was never a question as to where my first priority lied. I was able to leave when needed to take Mike back and forth to Madison. I was blessed. But with CF, full time work and two young kids I started to falter under the stress. I couldn't do that kind of work and deal with all that was going on as CF started to take my Mikey from me.

I have to say, that as I left that job I wondered if I would ever work in the business world again. God stepped in again and through many friends and family members I was encouraged to continue to try. "There are other business without the high stress levels of project management and construction," they encouraged me. God blessed me again and the first job I applied for resulted in a job offer. Divine intervention. Again, I was given the time that I needed to take Mike to the hospital. As Mike got sicker others stepped in and helped give him rides back and forth. The rest you can see in past blog posts.

What is the moral of this story?

I might not have job security . . .

I might not get Social Security . . .

But I will always have - God security

Given only through God’s amazing grace.
Amen to that.

We pray – give us today our daily bread – but we really usually don’t mean that. We really want job security, a nice padded bank account and a sizable 401K or else we worry. But God is always there working things out for our good just like he promised. God security. Yes, I have been homeless with two kids and I have lived in what many would consider a mansion. That is amazing grace.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to 
have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content 
in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, 
whether living in plenty or in want. 
I can do all things through Christ who 
strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

People have said to me, “You’re so lucky! You always land the good jobs!” or “You’re so techno geeky – you’ll always have job security!” When I hear these remarks I pause and take inventory . . . if left to my own devices I probably wouldn't have a job at all. To God be the glory. He has and always will give me God security. I trust Him completely. Forgive me Lord for the times I have doubted and worried.

The night seems darkest before the dawn. For those of you looking for work – hang in there. Trust. Yes, I worked hard and studied. God did the rest. Trust. I wish I wouldn't have worried so much. So much of the sin in my life was a result of that awful thing called worry. Trust Him.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, 
for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each 
day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34


Blessings to you! Love, love, love.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

God's Perfect Timing

God’s timing is always perfect.

Sometimes that is hard for us to see.

Sometimes we have to wait to see it. Looking back it seems so clear.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

One could say that having babies less than 13 months apart isn't good timing. But looking back, having Katie and Mikey so close was a blessing. They were like twins. They loved and cherished each other even after they grew individual personalities.

If you have ever danced you know how important timing is. When a couple like Julie Wilson and Mike danced it was beautiful. They danced as one. If one of them had even been a second off it would have been less than desirable to watch (and probably wouldn’t have gotten them a State championship).

Mikey told many of his peeps that he didn't want to die in a hospital bed. That was part of his decision to come home on Hospice. He even refused the bed that Hospice brought when he first arrived. But after a few days his back started to hurt. He needed to be propped up to be comfortable and that was hard to do in a regular bed. I finally talked Mike into using the bed that was downstairs. “It just allows for you to raise the head up and down, Mike,” I bartered. He agreed. But now how was that going to happen? Mike was getting weaker. The bed that was in that small room was full size. This wasn't going to be easy. Timing would be everything.

His father and I met in the hall and I said, “I think . . .”
“I’ve got this,” He interrupted.
“But . . .”
“I’ve got this.”
“But you know we can . . .”
“I’ve got this!” Big Mike interjected again.

I relaxed. I said, “OK.” I sat back and watched Big Mike’s perfect timing play out.

This needed to be orchestrated. I’m sure Mikey is proud watching the choreography of his father that went on behind the scenes, as he watches the replay on that big screen TV up in heaven. Big Mike rallied the troops that were here. One quick call to Mikey’s friends and family members and everyone was ready to go.

Aunt Cathy cradled Mikey ever so gently in her arms while Amy held the morphine drip. As they sat Mikey down in a chair in the room someone set off a timer.







A group came in and disassembled the bed and rushed it out the door and down the hall. Scott, Bryon, Bear and others led by Big Mike came in and assembled the Hospice bed and plugged it in. Sheets and blankets were already on it and within 6 minutes from the time Mikey got up he was back in bed.

It’s amazing what love can do. So honored that all these people were part of Mikey’s life.

Looking back, I see God’s perfect timing for Mikey’s departure to heaven. We had anticipated many months of dependence on oxygen. Being tethered to a tank. Mike didn't want that. We talked about it a few times and I could not get him out of that mindset. Mike was always so giving. He gave until there was no more left to give. I would tell him that this would be our time to give back to him. But he would get agitated about it.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
I have said to people, “If there were ever such a thing as a beautiful death, my son was granted it.” All of his loved ones there to support him. He was able to speak up until the very end. He said his goodbyes and I’ll see you laters. Never alone.

I am so thankful for God’s perfect timing for Mike. For me. For you.

‘O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’
Psalm 139

Blessings to you. Love, love, love.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Finding My Voice

It's been a long time . . .

I just stopped . . .

It felt like I lost my voice . . .

I know up in the corner of my blog it says why I started this blog. And it is why I started it. . . .

But then it slowly evolved. Sometimes I didn't know whose voice I was speaking . . . mine or Mikes. Truthfully, sometimes it was mine and sometimes it was Mike's. Once in a while he totally hijacked my blog completely and told me what he wanted me to say. I didn't mind at all. This became the place where people could go to find out how Mikey was doing. I promised to be real and I feel like I kept that promise :)

So, I guess it's not unusual that I would stumble about a bit. Not sure how I want to move forward . . , or if I even do.

I was at the dentist and JoBeth said she liked to read about Mikey's stories. Others have shared that they do too. Others said they enjoyed reading my blog and somehow it brought them comfort or peace.

Well, we all know that has nothing to do with me now don't we.

But I feel like I am finding my voice again. So much that I still want to share about the road I traveled with my Mikey. And then there are still all the reasons I started this blog to begin with.

I am one blessed mamma that is for sure. Blessed to still have such peace. Blessed to have a Father who continues to comfort and bring me joy. Blessed with a loving family. Blessed by all of you and your continued support and prayers.


There have been a few rough patches . . but none without God's comfort, love and forgiveness. I am learning how to trust completely . . . and it feels really good. I know there is an end to grief, because there is no end to grace. God is so good.

And look how God blessed us this week:


This young man lettered as a Freshman in Wrestling. We are so proud of him. A lot of hard work paid off for him. It is amazing what he can do when he puts his mind to something! To God be the glory!

And this little guy has a new special friend:

Thank you Zaria for taking such good care of Eva so David could have her :) He sure does love her.

Katie, Gage and Amy are all doing well also.

I am so blessed.

Hubby gave the sermon this week at school. He puts so much into those sermons and devotions. We are blessed by his Divine Call.

It is Lent. It reassures me that I will one day be going to heaven to meet my Savior just like my son did.

All good stuff folks, all good stuff.

Peace and blessings to each of you.

Many prayers going up for Rusty and Laura. May God continue to comfort and uphold you during this trying time. I admire the strength of these women.

Love, love, love.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lifted Burdens

There are things I look back at now and see through the eyes of reflection that make me very thankful. They also make me hang my head and wonder why I allowed worry to engulf me at times.

Psalm 50:15 Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.

Having a child with a genetic disease means most life insurance companies will not insure them. For years this thought would creep up into my mind. How would I have the money to bury my son if he died before me?

CF is a very expensive disease for families. Lots of medical bills and medications. Travel to and from medical facilities, stays in hospitals and hotels, equipment and the list goes on.

There were times I trusted and there were times I worried.

So many of you have helped ease our burdens. Thank you. We are so grateful for all the support we received and are still receiving.


  • Thank you to all those who lifted us up in prayer. They were all heard and answered.
  • Thank you Derek for giving of all of your time for Mikey's funeral preparations. He would not allow one second of his time to be charged.
  • To Radar who would not allow us to be burdened with any amount insurance didn't pay for the ambulance ride home.
  • Thank you to Grandma VanDeurzen who allowed Mike to be buried on their plot.
  • Thank you to so many friends and relatives who gave money to help pay for Mike's medical and burial expenses.
  • Thank you to Uncle David, Aunt Renee and my girlfriend Jean for helping financially with Mike's expenses these last couple of difficult years when the expense became overwhelming.
  • Thank you to Brandi and Julie for helping raise awareness and money to help with Mike's expenses.
  • Thank you to my girlfriend Gail who came immediately and stayed until the end. Working tirelessly even though she struggles with her own chronic illness.
  • Thank you to my girlfriend Pam who brought food and shampoo and things I needed.
  • Thank you to the many people who brought food to the house. I don't even know who you all are. I didn't see anyone who brought food except my mom and Brandi (Julie brought salsa and cookies). It was just there when I would come downstairs. Bless you.
  • Thank you to all of the friends and relatives who helped us take care of Richie and David.
  • To Johnna, Cathy, Kay and others who took charge and put the food out for others to have. I was so out of it I didn't even offer Mike and Kay anything to eat or drink when they first came. When Mike and I talked to Mikey and I told them his dad could come and stay, I was extending an open invitation but then we got to our house and things got crazy. Thank you for your forgiveness you guys.
  • Thank you to Kay who brought water and hand sanitizer and all sorts of stuff.
  • Thank you to Amy who ran to the store or errands on more than one occasion yet was still there every time Mike called for her.
  • Thank you Amy S for the Chapstick.
  • Mike and Dianne P who counseled with Mike so many times and talked him through many rough patches in his life.
  • Thank you Rhonda, Amy, Pastor Parson's, Beth and others for my cokes.
  • Thank you to Mike's brothers who would come at a moments notice if we needed anything. Some ran to the pharmacy for drugs, others on errands, some came in the middle of the night because Mike just needed to know that they were there.
  • Thank you to Scott who came in the middle of his work week and camped out in the hospital parking lot.
  • Thank you to Dennis for making the trip so many times. Mike needed you and you were there.
  • Thank you to the women who made the purple ribbons.
  • Thank you to the folks who made bracelets.
  • Thank you Julie for the flash mob. . . unbelievable memories.
  • To the Pastors and staff at Good Shepherd Lutheran for allowing all of us to have Mike's visitation there.
  • To the Pastors and staff at Faith who allowed us to fit around tight schedules. Allowed Mike's bikes to be kept there with him. For understanding the brothers needed to keep watch.
  • Thank you to Pastor Naumann for an incredible sermon that has brought peace to all of us.
  • Thank you to Pastor Parsons, Haugley, Weigand and Naumann for the devotions. Thank you Pastor Haugly for giving Mike Communion.
  • Thank you to Uncle Bob and Uncle Scott for honoring Mike's request to sing Breathe. I can't imagine how hard that was to do at Mikey's funeral. But they did it.
  • Thank you to Auggy and Mongo who wrote poems for Mike and shared them with the rest of us.
  • Thank you to everyone who spoke at Mike's funeral.
  • Thank you to Madyson for the Hero speech she shared with Mike and then with all of us.
  • Thank you Erin and Brooke for your counsel
  • Thank you to Uncle Jim's sisters and others who helped organize and serve the lunch after the burial.
  • Thank you to everyone who brought food for the lunch.
  • Thank you to everyone who sent plants and flowers. They are all lovely.  Thank you to Mike Bassett for the two trees. They are planted in our yard. I couldn't find your address to thank you.
  • Thank you to the THMC for honoring Mike's last request that the club have his motorcycle. This was a difficult request to fill. It was Mike's only asset and with medical bills and such it would not be easy to fulfill this request. The club purchased the bike for well over its value to fulfill Mikey's request and to help alleviate some of Mike's expenses. God bless you all.
  • And to Heartland Hospice for the storm we created. It was no easy thing to get Mike home and make all the arrangements in a moments notice. There was not time to work things out perfectly. They took him anyway and we all did the best we could. They came back every time we needed them. They continue to call and offer comfort through our grief.

Thank you to everyone who showed up - no matter how you did it. You showed up and gave support. I never could have imagined how God was going to work this all out and how awesomely he would do it. I didn't need to worry. I only needed to trust him. How silly I was.

Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Thank you to all of you for helping to lift our burdens. God bless each and every one of you. Peace.



I didn't get the entire song but I will share the piece I did get. So awesome of these Uncle's of Mike's to do this for him. 

Keep loving it forward with us. Blessings to you!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

I love getting back into the kitchen. . . it's been a while ;)

I was blessed to go to church last night before I started my Thanksgiving Day preparations. It helped me reflect on all that I am thankful for most importantly God. He has given me a faith that has sustained me through so much this past year.

It has been a tradition around our home to take a few moments during the Thanksgiving activities and write down several things that we are thankful for. The things after God, faith and salvation. Those are a given. Those are the things that we thank God for on a daily basis.

This morning I pulled out the cards from 2008 and this is what I found:

Katie
1. I have a supporting job!
2. That I had my guardian angel with me and watching over me this summer!
3. The support of family during hard times!

Mom
1. I am thankful Mike hasn't been in the hospital in over 8 weeks :)
2. Thankful our income is still enough for our needs! Thankful our car still runs and hasn't had any major expense.
3. I am thankful for my spiritual growth that is a huge gift and an answered prayer.
4. For a spiritually mature husband who takes his responsibility as leader of our family, seriously.

Paul
1. Pain free legs & not getting up 3 times a night.
2. Working windshield wipers on the Bonneville that still runs.
3. The job that I have in an unstable economy.
4. Thankful that gas prices have dropped from $4 to $1.73.
5. The Lord bringing all of us through many hospital visits throughout 2008.

Gage
1. Turkey, corn, chicken, jello.
2. Going in my room.
3. Going outside with dad and playing with toys.

Mike
1. My health
2. Working at the Dance Studio
3. Disability checks

David (with Dad's help to write them)
1. CARS (as in the movie and the little toys).
2. My mom who stays with me every day.
3. Music because I love to sing.
4. A Car so that I can go places like the museum and the swimming pool.
5. Friends that come to my house (Jack & Gavin).

And Richard
1. Pudding                                              17. George Washington      33. Pumpkin Patches
2. Mom                                                   18. The Mall                       34. Vitamins
3. Dad                                                     19. Stores                            35. Katie
4. Donets                                                20. Shoes                             Katie and I got a pretty
5. Mike                                                   21. Sand                              good chuckle out of his list :)
6. David                                                  22. Shovel
7. bike                                                     23. Orange Juice
8. My room                                             24. Ice Cream
9. Gage                                                    25. Can't read it
10. Going on Vacations                          26. Roads
11. Snow                                                 27. Brownies
12. Waterpark                                         28. Cake
13 No school days                                   29. Hair
14. Football games                                  30. Summer
15. House                                                 31. Spring
16. Money                                               32. Little Farmer


I am thankful that I am a scrapbooker and that I took the time to do things like this.

There is a wonderful smell in my home from pies that just came out of the oven and things still in there baking. Paul, Richie, David and two of my nephews up from Tennessee, Luke and Eli just left for church. The house has been filled with life and laughter . . . I am thankful.

Many people have shared with me that the holidays would be especially hard. I can honestly say I haven't found this to be true so far. I think about the fact that Mike is celebrating his first Thanksgiving in heaven and I think about how cool that must be. When I think about Mike I immediately think about the fact he isn't suffering. I miss him terribly some times. When the tempter comes and gives me a poke it isn't fun. He took a really good jab at me a few weeks ago. I'll write about that another time. But the comforter is still here giving me comfort and peace and he is bigger than any temptation.

I was typing at my niece Janna the other day and I was able to verbalize the realization of experiences I have been having. While talking about grief I wrote:

I am learning through this experience that it is hard to be sad while your heart is so full of thankfulness and gratitude. I choose to be thankful that God gave me a son. Not look at it that God took away my son. It is hard to explain to others who are hurting. But I'm going to keep trying because I so want them to feel what I am feeling. It is a God feeling. A feeling that can come only from God. To feel His presence so fully that grief becomes only a shadow to it. To feel so much gratitude for His mercy that sorrow has to take a back seat. To have so much hope in Him that there is no way not to have joy. It is a God feeling and it is pretty amazing. God truly does come close to the broken hearted - indeed.

I'm not saying that there isn't grief and sorrow. There is. But it is not all consuming. There is joy, there is peace, there is gladness . . . life is for the living. The lesson I'm learning is that while I am living in gratitude and thankfulness I don't feel as sad or sorrowful. They are shadowed. God is so good.

I choose to look at things like the notes above and be thankful. I was going through some of the medical notes from Mike's chart and I found this:

Written on 9/16/14 by the Palliative Care Team

 . . .Mike recognizes that he does get depressed at times, but feels he has a great support system especially through his "biker" club. Mike is close to his family--he has 2 younger brothers. His mom has remarried and he appears to have a good relationship with his step-dad. His dad is involved and visits on weekends.

Closure of Life Affairs: Patient is hopeful to live until he is 34, but recognizes that time could be shorter. He is starting to think about how his family might cope with this death. He shared stories about his life, and the fact that he feels he has had a good life.


What a blessing to see those words. Mike shared that with many at UW Madison - "I've had a good life . . ." You are all part of that. How can we be anything but thankful.



This picture was taken on the day we wrote the thankful cards above :)
From our home to yours may God bless your holiday! Thank you all for showing up to help Mike, me and my family get through his final round and since. We are grateful.

Love, love, love.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Mike's Funeral Service

I had so hoped to be able to put a link here to the video from Mike's funeral service held 4 weeks ago today. That didn't work out so I am going to post the words and music from the service as best I can.

I didn't get good audio from the Choir but I posted this because the two are very similar. WLA's choir directed by Dale Witte did an awesome job. This is a recording from our MLC college. I thought I would post this first so you could listen to it while you read the rest of the service.



THE WORD OF  GOD
FIRST LESSON                                                                            Psalm 46 (NIV84)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. 4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. 7The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 8 Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.



SECOND LESSON                                                                 John 14:1-6 (NIV 84)


“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

HYMN OF THE DAY                          “God Loved the World So that He Gave”
                                                                                                                      Hymn 391
v. 1-4 All, v. 5 Solo, v. 6 All

video


SERMON                                                                          2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NIV 84)
                                                        
Fight the Good Fight

In the Name of the Father, Son and HS.  The word of our God that we would set our hearts to this day is the text of some of the last words that I had the opportunity to share with our dear loved one, Mike Van Deurzen.  The words come from 2 Timothy 4:6-8 “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”  Those words were fitting for Mike to hear as he spent the last few days of his life in the here and now, and those words are just as fitting for us to hear, as we spend these days mourning the loss of our loved one and rejoicing that he is now at rest.


Mike Van Deurzen was a fighter. As Gina mentioned, not much in Mikey’s life came easy. Ever since the diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis almost thirty years ago, Mike has been Fighting- fighting for breath, fighting for life. And yet, that fight didn’t get him down.  I have had the privilege of knowing Mike for the last ten years, and I can honestly stand before you and tell you that Mike was an awesome individual.  I spent a lot of time talking to Mike, either in the hospital room at UW for his treatments, up in the third floor suite at the Thiesfeldts, or in my office at church. Mike had this attitude about life that was absolutely incredible. In all of my talks with Mike, I don’t think I ever heard Mike complain. And that’s pretty incredible- because from an earthly perspective-Mike could have had a whole lot to complain about.

Mike was an individual who knew blessings, but he also knew difficulties. Mike’s life was not always that perfect bed of roses. And yet, he always seemed to have that upbeat attitude. I am convinced that one of the reasons why he had that attitude, the creative loving spirit, the giving heart-those things that the obituary mentioned-was all due to the fact that he knew that in Christ, he had everything. He knew what he was looking forward to. He knew all about the crown- that Christ had won for him.

In our sermon text for today we have the Apostle Paul looking forward to the very same thing that Mike was looking forward to: The Crown.  In this book of the Bible, we have the Apostle Paul writing to his young friend, Pastor Timothy. He is writing this letter towards the end of his earthly life.  He knows that soon, his time on this earth will end.  And so he writes this letter to help and encourage Pastor Timothy.  The time has come for my departure. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. This life isn’t easy.  Paul knew that. The Apostle Paul knew what it meant to deal with difficulties in life. He knew what hardships were all about.   

Mike knew difficulties in this life too.  He knew what it meant to fight the good fight, and to run the race.  Last Friday I was sitting with Mike and talking with him about this text in preparation for his funeral.  Mike knew that the fight that Paul is talking about here wasn’t a war with Cystic Fibrosis, it is a war against sin.  It’s a war against the world.  It’s a war against the devil.  Mike knew about that fight too. He knew that there were plenty of times when he lost that battle against sin. In fact really, that’s the real reason we are gathered here today. That’s the real reason why his 31 year old body is laid out in that casket. …it is not because of CF, but rather it is because Mike sinned. Because Mike Sinned-Mike died. And quite frankly because I have sinned, because you have sinned, we are going to share the exact same fate.  We too will die.

But friends the good news that Mike wanted you all to hear today was that, that [casket] isn’t the end of the story.  Mike didn’t lose the race! He didn’t lose the battle! He won! Mike knew that he had a Savior who paid for that sin. He had a Savior who was born of a woman, just like we are.  He had a Savior who grew up just like we do. He had a Savior who was tempted by the devil, just like we are. But this Savior was different. For this Savior never once listened to the devils lies, like we do. This Savior never once fell prey to the devil’s temptations, like we do.  And then this Savior suffered- far more than you or I or even Mike ever have had to suffer in this life. For Jesus bore every one of Mike’s sins, everyone of yours, everyone of mine on that cross.  And then our Savior- at the age of just 33, died. But he didn’t stay dead- no on that third day he rose again, to give us the confident hope that we can face the death of a 31 year old in a completely different way.

For Mike knew that his race was already won. For he knew that because Christ had won the victory for him-he could look forward to the prize at the end of the race. Just listen to hear what Mike is enjoying right now: 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”  Mike is enjoying the crown not the CF.  The very Lord who called Mike to be his own when he Baptized him, is the very same Lord who kept him close to his heart through the means of grace. Mike knew that because he had Jesus’ life death and resurrection credited to his account, he could approach God’s throne of grace with confidence. He was at peace.


Mike had the confident hope of knowing where he was going. When I visited him last Friday, I asked him if there was anything he was afraid of. He looked at me, and he said-well I just want to be sure that my brothers can be my pall bearers and if they could wear their vests at church-is that gonna be OK? I said absolutely. He said-then there is this procession from the church to the cemetery-can they ride in that procession-it’s going to be really loud? I said-I can’t wait to hear it Mike. No problem. But that’s all the service-we can take care of that, but what about you-is there anything you are afraid of? Mike said, “I hope my mom is going to be OK after I’m gone.” I said, she has a great family and great friends-and an even better Lord that are all going to help her through this. But Mike what about you- is there anything you are afraid of-anything I can explain from the scriptures of what’s going to happen when you die. He said-No-I’m good-I got Jesus. He’s just going to come and get me.” I said, yes He is Mike, yes he is. Mike was one incredible guy.  

Mike knew that he had won the race. He may have lost the battle with Cystic Fibrosis-but he won the War when he got the crown and inherited heaven’s home.

Mike knew that Jesus had fought the good fight for him and as a result, he had won the war.  And it is just as important that you know that you too have won the war. It is just as important for you to know that Christ has won that crown for you. You need to know that because losing a loved one isn’t easy.  Oh sure, we can comfort ourselves by saying that Mike isn’t suffering anymore-and he isn’t.  We can comfort ourselves by saying that he isn’t struggling to catch his breath, and he is breathing easy. But the fact is, that there is still this void- this earthly separation that takes place when a loved one dies. But in the middle of our pain, we can be comforted with the same words that comforted Mike.  We know that we too have the crown to look forward to. We know that one day, we too are going to go before God’s judgment throne, and he is going to ask us the same question that he asked Mike this past Sunday, “Why in the world should I let you into my heaven?” We know that we are going to say the same thing that Mike did, we aren’t going to point to ourselves and our own works-because we are a bunch of sinful people, but instead we are simply going to point to Jesus’ life death and resurrection credited to our account. And God will look at us and say to us the same thing he told Mike, “Well done my good and faithful servant-enter the kingdom prepared for you!” Until that day comes, Keep your eyes focused on the prize- and keep Fighting the Good Fight! Amen.


APOSTLES’ CREED
I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

PRAYER
M:        Almighty God, we praise you for the great company of saints who have finished their       lives in faith and now rest from their labors.  We remember especially our loved one, Mike Van Deurzen Jr., whom you have redeemed by the blood of your Son and received as your dear child through Holy Baptism. We thank you for giving him to us as a companion on our earthly pilgrimage.  In your compassion, comfort all who are sad in this hour.  Lord, in your mercy,

C:        Hear our prayer.

M:      We praise you for your love in Christ, which sustains us in life and death. In our    earthly sorrows, help us find strength in the fellowship of the church, joy in the forgiveness of sins, and hope in the resurrection to eternal life.  Lord, in your mercy,

C:        Hear our prayer.


M:        You do not leave us comfortless but strengthen and care for us through      your Word and sacrament.  You give us family, friends, and neighbors to help when there is loneliness             now and in the days to come.  Brighten our future with a firm trust in your promises and care.  Lord, in your mercy,

C:        Hear our prayer.


M:        Remove our fears, and make us bold to pray with confidence as our Savior has taught us:
 

C:        Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

BLESSING
M:        The Lord bless you and keep you. 
            The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
            The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace.

C:        Amen.

Because some of you have been asking:

Presiding Minister: Rev. Brett G. Naumann
Pastor Naumann Preaches at
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
855 Martin Avenue, Fond du Lac
This is the church where we had Mike's visitation.
Organist: Mr. Dale Witte - WLA
Choir Director: Mr. Dale Witte - WLA


It was a beautiful service. I'm glad I took the time to post this today. Today was a rough day. I miss my Mikey. Sometimes you just gotta let it out I guess. 

Blessed are those who mourn . . .
Blessings to you!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

HOPE


1 Peter 3:15 “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

Mike left this world four weeks ago this morning. On a Sunday. I am so confident in where Mike is.

Time of Grace 7/25/83 to 9/28/14

 When Mike was younger and before HIPPA we were asked many times if we would talk to CF families with newly diagnosed children. Mike always enjoyed this. He was always happy to share how he could swallow handfuls of pills. He would share that he did his therapy every day. It was easy to see that he was a happy child.

There was a time we were asked if we would talk to a family, but then the family really wasn’t ready. I remember that the couple who had this child (she was 3-5) was an older couple. They both had children from previous marriages and then together they had this precious little girl. Some of the older siblings had children of their own. They all came – visibly upset. The young girl seemed like she was doing really well, but this was a shock for the family.

When it came time to start the IV, the young girl was taken to a treatment room. This was standard practice. Children never had to worry that something would happen in their room. They were taken to a treatment room. The little girl started to cry and the mom (who had been waiting outside) grabbed the door to go in and found it locked. Her husband, knowing that she would not be able to handle the situation, locked her out. She began to bang on the treatment door. Mikey’s room was just across the hall. She finally stopped and composed herself. She saw me and came into our room, “Why aren’t you freaking out over this? Your son has CF!”

John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; 
trust also in me.” (Jesus speaking to his disciples)

My beautiful boy
I don’t know how others might react to difficult situations. I only know what has always worked for me. Stand on the promises of God. It has never failed me. When I look to anything else for comfort, hope and answers, I am disappointed and feel alone. But when I look to God, I am held up.

The night before Mike passed away we had some trouble with his morphine pump. This was turned into a blessing because it brought Mary, the hospice nurse, to our home. She fixed the morphine pump and assured us that Mike was doing well. He had been up to go to the bathroom and even got on his computer and phone.

It was time for bed and having been told that we were at least a day or so away from Mike’s last moments (as best as anyone could tell), I decided that I needed to get some rest. Amy (God bless her) stayed in with Mike and the rest of us went to bed. I took half a sleeping pill so I would at least get a couple of hours of sleep.

If you have read any of my past blog posts then you know about Mikey’s plan. Well, despite my efforts to sleep and despite Mike’s will, God moved forward with his perfect plan.

I miss him
Early in the morning the batteries on the morphine pump started to go out setting off an alarm that woke all of us up. I came in to check on Mike and he was out. Even the irritating beeping IV didn’t rouse him. Amy was calling the hospice number to find out how to fix it. I asked her to make sure they would send someone. I didn’t want to lose the program and have to redo it, because I wouldn’t know how. I decided I would take a shower because I didn’t figure I would be able to go back to sleep. I anticipated that hospice would be coming back soon.

Now, I want you to know that I don’t startle easily. I think most people know that. I can maintain pretty well in a crisis situation. It was interesting that all of the happenings of the previous several days made me jumpy. I had just gotten out of the shower and was about to grab my bathrobe when a VERY loud bang, bang, bang came on the door. I RUSHED out the door and Amy said, “It’s Mike!”

I ran to his room down the hall. I think I heard Amy or someone say something about he had to get up to go to the bathroom. The door was pretty much closed. I opened it just as his father was finishing helping him adjust his pajama bottoms. Mike looked right at me and then fell backwards on the bed. Not knowing yet what was happening I grabbed a syringe of morphine and laid down next to him. He made a couple attempts at getting air - in small gasps. I started to reassure him that Jesus had done everything for him . . . Katie walked into the room past me and around to his head on the bed. I was on Mike’s right side. His father on his left. Mike picked up his head a bit and then turned it to the right and looked directly up and past my head. Jesus was there in the room to take him home. But Mike was still with us and I was puzzled as to why. And then I remembered . . . I told Mike I would put his hand in Jesus’ hand and so I reached down and took Mike’s hand. I looked back up at Mike and he never took another breath. He was at peace. He was with his Savior.

I don’t believe it was Mike holding back in those last few moments. I believe that Jesus gave me that last signal to let me know that he indeed was there to take Mike home and I could let him go. It was beautiful. I was so blessed to be in the room as my son was carried off to heaven. I am so confident in where Mike is right now. And this brings me such comfort when I miss him.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what 
we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

I did not get to see what Mike saw. But my faith tells me I can be certain that heaven is real and that when we leave this world we will be carried to heaven by our Savior. It gives me hope. Hope for a future in heaven with my Savior. Hope that I will see Mike and Melinda and all those I love. Not because of anything I have or haven’t done but because I have a Savior who came and lived a perfect life for me and died and rose that I might live one day with him. I believe this with all my heart.
I am so confident he is in heaven.

I have my days that are difficult. I miss my Mikey. I do. But I know that this is a temporary thing. We are all asked to do hard stuff. So many people are asked to do things way harder than what I’ve had to. All I can do is continue to serve and glorify my God. I trust in him completely. Even to take away my pain. He does that with his promises of a perfect heaven when all this earthly stuff is finished. It brings me peace and joy and hope.

I hope it does for you too.
Blessings to you!