Thursday, April 16, 2015

Who I Am - by Mike

Disclaimer: Mike’s learning disabilities made it hard for him to sequence. Extremely hard. So when you read his writings please don’t think, well, he forgot me when he said that. Mike would talk about whatever he was thinking about at the time. Not as an exclusion of other things – not always in a particular order of priority. When I am asked a question I give it deep thought. Too much thought most of the time. It is who I am. Just like that, so it was for Mike only without the sequencing. Enough said. J
Finding the better side of things - Mike 2012

Mike and I spent a lot of time together in the hospital. Things were hectic while he was inpatient. But I would try and do things to change it up while he was there. When he was a kid he had lots of homework but there would always be time to throw balls in the hallway or catch a movie or think up a shenanigan or two to play on the nurses. God bless those nurses.

I am a good dancer - Mike 2012
I took a scrapbook class that I thought would be fun to do with each of my children. I told Mike he was going to be first and be my guinea pig. He reluctantly agreed. He didn’t want to write so I would have to do that for him but he would dictate. There was a series of questions. Each of us would write our answers. Then I would scrapbook them and we would be able to see how alike and different we are/were.

Who I am Today
Mike Van Deurzen 2012

I’m a 29 year old CF survivor. I’m a brother to two younger blood brothers, half-brothers and I’m a brother to brothers in a motorcycle club Top Hats. I am trying to be an inspiration to other people through my journey with CF. I dance, play guitar and prospect. I try to do more than people expect of me. Who I am today lives within the day after facing death. I realize how precious the people in my life are and what a gift it is to have them and have this day to live! I appreciate people and life. I appreciate the time God has given me. I didn't plan for my future because I didn't think I would have one.

This is what I’m good at
I am good at trying to find the better side of things when things don’t look so good. I’m good at guitar and riding my motorcycle and dancing.

Notes said he is a loyal friend, good at reading people, trusting and disciplined - stuff we never finished writing about.

We never finished this exercise . . .there were several other questions that were left unanswered. I never answered mine.

I am going through Mike’s stuff and I am finding precious nuggets like this one. It reminds me what a wonderful son I had. He was a good person. I am blessed.

We are thinking about selling this great big house. It suited our needs perfectly when we had our blended family. But Katie moved out and Mike is gone so we don’t need this big huge house any longer.
As I drove home from work today this thought ran across my mind . . . “I wonder if God will bless us with a buyer for our house so we can move . . .” Then I stopped and corrected myself, “I wonder HOW God will bless us through this process? Will we get a buyer for our house and move to a new home or will we be blessed to stay here for a few more years . . .?”

I play guitar Mike 2012
I am good at trying to find the 
better side of things when things 
don’t look so good. Mike 2012

Whatever God’s plan is, it is to bless us. If there is one thing I have learned it is that. God uses everything he allows to happen in our lives to bless us.

Who I am Today
Gina Thiesfeldt 2015

I am a Christian, a wife and a mother. I am a stronger Christian, a more loving wife and a better mother because of that young man and his influence on my life and the way God blessed me through him.

Missing me some Mike . . .as Katie would say…..missing me some Mike.

It is very difficult to go through all of his stuff and clean out his room. I was upstairs the other day taking pictures of an almost empty room for the real estate ad. Camera in hand I was pretty somber . . and then I heard the pipes and I ran. I got all the way to the porch and waved like a crazy lady. My boys had stopped at the corner, just like I asked them too. . .they waited for me and waved and then off they went. It took my somber moment and turned it around. That’s what we can do for each other – lift each other up. That is where the hole in our hearts that Mike left seeps out and blesses others. Well, you know me, I wasn’t going to let an opportunity like that pass me by with a camera in my hand. . . of course I snapped a picture.

I try to do more than people expect of me. Mike VanDeurzen 2012

Last night Amy and I were up on the third floor going through Mike's stuff and Art drove by - vroommm.

Tonight I was in Mike's room again and someone drove past – a couple. This time I only made it to the window at the top of the stairs but I saw the vest! Coincidence? Karma? No - blessing. God gives me exactly what I need to have peace. Sometimes that is in memories . . .sometimes in writings that I find and sometimes by a bunch of bikers ;) . . .but always through HIM.

I hope whatever you are facing that you get to see the blessings God is sending with the trials. If you can’t see them then I pray you can trust Him. Trust that He is working this out for your good . . .just like he promised. There is nothing bigger than Him – not even CF.

Blessings to you. Love, Love, LOVE!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Difficult - the hole in my heart

I think of the analogy of the tree firmly planted will take root and bear abundant fruit. Mike was one of those trees in my orchard (and boy did he bear abundant fruit). When he left my life, roots and all, it left a big gaping hole in my heart and in my life. The tears I shed created mud slides that slowly began to fill the hole. God draws near to the broken hearted, indeed. (Psalm 34:18) I realized quickly I would need to fill in as much of that hole as possible. The hole will never be completely filled. I am hopeful that by filling as much as I can then at least when I wander over it I won’t fall in so deeply that I won't be able to climb back out.

There are things that are more difficult than others. There are triggers that I am learning to stay away from. There are triggers I’m learning that I just need to hold on to.

Things that have been difficult.

Grocery shopping is a trigger. 
Going to the grocery store and not buying all the things Mike loved. 
CFers have an enormous appetite. To help them us Momsters will tantalize with all their favorite foods when they don’t feel well. We have lists of ingredients that go into their favorite meals - special snacks and the like. Food is a big part of any life but to a CFer it is a HUGE deal. Going to the store is still hard. I am thankful Paul does most of the shopping. I have the most fantastic hubby on the planet.

Cooking – for most of the reasons stated above - I am ashamed to say - I have cooked very little since Mike passed away. He was good in the kitchen and would help me a great deal. It makes me miss him. I am thankful for all the food people brought while Mike was on hospice. It was a blessing to our family. I’m working on this . . .

Scrapbooking and pictures. They were my distraction as CF got really ugly these last 10 years. Now I want little to nothing to do with any of it. Does anyone have a match . . .

His smell. It only took a couple of weeks and the smell of Mike was gone. Katie noticed it first. It made us both very sad. We searched, but it was gone.

Basically anything that I felt deprived of while Mike was alive and CF was ravishing our lives, I have a hard time with now. It brings up this emotion that is hard to explain. Some guilt, some sorrow . . .I’m hoping one day I can articulate it. So just taking the time to put a dress on for Easter brought up that feeling. I haven’t gotten dressed up for church, let alone Easter, for years. Like last year for instance, Mike was in the hospital. I threw something on so I could leave right away and go see him. So having time to do that now, I guess, is a reminder I have time but I don’t have Mike. Maybe it doesn't make any sense to others.

Another example is David’s kitty. I told him he could have a kitty when they found a cure for CF. We tried to give him a cat but Mike felt it was making his symptoms worse. Now we have a kitty but we don’t have Mike.

I have a very big house. I got really far behind with everything as I made all the trips back and forth to Madison and tended to all the demands of CF. Now I’m finally getting time to clean up and sort through things. I have to fight the sick feeling in my stomach – because I have time to do this – means I don’t have Mike.

Stress. This could be an entire blog post all on its own. I can't handle a lot of stress. Physical, emotional, or mental. I have to be very careful. Even getting too excited about something can set me back. I don't want to be numb but I do want to be careful. Panic attacks can be a side effect of trauma. I can feel them. I know the tempter would love to take away my peace and send me into despair. But I will fight him. I will fight that urge to numb. Numbing is yet a whole other blog post! I can't remove stress from my life but I can learn to control my reactions to it. I'm sure I'll be talking more about that in the future.

Things I can’t let go of yet. Things I need to continue to stage to be OK.

A coat in the closet. I keep one of his coats in the front closet. For some reason it brings me peace when I open the closet door to grab my coat and I see his. I made sure his father has one for his closet too. Katie has one also.

His enzymes. As the hospice nurse was packing up she offered to take Mike’s meds. I think she is required to take all of the drugs hospice supplies. I just looked at her like . . .What? You’re kidding right? I was tired and that would be a big job but with little kids in the house I thought well, this will help me out. Within a couple of minutes we had produced a garbage bag full of drugs. She looked stunned and said, “Oh, now I see . . .” Someone had brought one of Mike’s big bottles of enzymes and I grabbed it back and said, "NO!" Mikey couldn't eat without them. Enzymes have been in my home every day for 31 years. I could not let go of every bottle. Nope, not yet.

His vest and machines. I am hoping someone will help me out with this. I can’t throw away two machines that helped keep my son alive for years and cost thousands of dollars. I CAN NOT do it. I've asked the hospital if someone needs them and no luck. I was hoping another CFer would want them so they could keep one at a college dorm or summer home and not have to lug one back and forth but no luck. I’m hoping someone will come and take them and I never know what happens to them. . . . . . . . Please?

Things I have to fight

I have to fight the urge to focus on the negative. Between stimulus and response we have a choice. By the grace of God and through the prayer and support of many I am thankful that most of the time the positive wins. And (said gently and with sensitivity to those also on this path) I can choose not to let it consume all of my thoughts. One thing I realized right away is that when I am filled with gratitude there isn't as much room for pain. When I focus on grace I lose sight of grief.

My time of grace did not end, Mike’s did. God still has plans he wants me to fulfill before my time of grace is over. I need to figure out what those are and press on toward the goal. Yes, I can think about the fact that Mike is not here, that I will never get to see or talk to him again as long as I live. Or I can think about how blessed I was to have been given 31 years with him. Blessed to have had all the blessings he and CF brought into my life. There is a quote I love, that says:

When we appreciate what we have, we honor what others have lost. 

I still have my health and God blessed me with other children and even a grandchild. How can I return those gifts unopened and unappreciated. I press on. I miss my Mike and all that he brought into my life. One thing I know for sure:

You don't have to look for trouble, pain, sorrow or difficulty
They are right there when you are NOT practicing gratitude. 
They are there when you are NOT looking at the blessings in your life. 
They are right there when you are NOT looking for beauty.
They  are  the absence of grace.

When I am living my life with grateful 
intention I am not in pain. Period.

I will grow accustomed to this new normal. There is still Joy and Love and Peace in this new normal and I am thankful. My heart is so full. It has a hole where the piece that Mike took with him used to be. That is where all the good stuff I was given as a result of Mike in my life seeps out and is given to others and makes me a better person. It’s called Mike’s legacy. That is the only living thing that Mike leaves behind. I know others have it too because they are telling me about it.

James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds 
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 

Blessings to you! Love, love, love. 
P.S. For all you grieving mothers and parents out there also on this journey, may God give you peace. I hope you have the support of friends and others. Reach out to them and let them lift you up.
Diane, let's get together soon :)
P.S.S. Did I ask if someone could come and make his machines disappear so I don't know what happened to them? I will just believe that they will be helping someone else sustain life , , , PLEASE?  

Sunday, April 5, 2015


I arrived at Church today fully aware of what we were celebrating – our Risen Lord. It is what has given me JOY and HOPE and PEACE over these past several very trying months. Shortly after the service began it gave me something else. Absolute and total humility.

The Junior Choir sang my favorite song of late  I WILL RISE.

I listen to this song all the time (the WLA choir sang it at Mikey's funeral) but there was something different today with the children of Faith Lutheran School singing it. Hearing those childlike voices took me back to the many services I sat through where Mike and Katie sang in the choir. Sang their praises to the Risen Lord. 

And as the children sang the words:
Worthy is the Lamb

My thoughts went to the passages in scripture that tell us that one day every knee will bow and all will raise their voices and say – 
Revelation 5:12
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain . . ."

The tears streamed down my face as I realized that my Mike is up in heaven right now with that multitude of souls and angels singing and praising God with those very words – Worthy is the Lamb! As my mind wandered to thoughts of what Mike must be experiencing I couldn't hold back the tears.

Tears of JOY for my Mikey who is with his Savior.

Tears of HOPE that I too will be with my Savior one day.

Tears of thankfulness for the PEACE I have been given.

And I am humbled . . .
Humbled that God used me in Mike’s life to help point him to Christ. Only Christ and his Word can change a heart and bring saving faith. But we can point and encourage each other on this walk toward home.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore, encourage one another 
and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

I hope you have the same JOY, HOPE and PEACE I have. The same feeling of gratitude and humility knowing that you were part of Mikey’s walk toward home. Knowing that one day you too will see him again, through faith in Christ Jesus, our Risen Lord.

Peace and blessings to you this Easter Sunday. Love, love, love.

Friday, April 3, 2015

My boys are B A C K!

I thought a little explanation might be in order.
Here is one of the Brothers making sure Katie got a ride to the cemetery.
Mikey has a whole slew of brothers . . .

They share a brotherhood . . .

I liken it to the armed forces. They share a brotherhood also. They have each other’s back. I know this because I had a brother who was a Marine and I have a brother who was in the Airborne. They've explained this to me. I also have a nephew who is serving his third tour in Afghanistan but that is another blog post.

So regardless of how life ebbs and flows, they hang in there for each other. If they make a promise they keep it. Well, these brother’s of Mike’s promised to look out for his family after he was gone.

You've seen in the blog posts that many of the brothers were here when Mike passed away. They carried him to his cousin’s Hearse and followed him to the funeral home. Some stayed there as a promise not to leave him alone and the rest came back here to my home.

While we were sitting here I told them I hoped they would stop by sometimes. They promised they would. And then I said, “And you know, if you’re ever riding in the area, could you drive down my street? I love to hear the pipes on the bikes. You see, when Mike was healthy enough to get out and ride these past several months, I would get anxious. And then I would here his Harley in the driveway and I would relax and think to myself, Oh, good, Mikey’s home! And you know what? Mikey’s home!” as my voice started to break and drop off.

It gives me such comfort to know that Mikey is home with his Savior. How can I be so sure?

Mike was a baptized child of God. The Holy Spirit planted the seed of Faith in his heart that day. And that is that.

Pastor Parsons reflected it perfectly tonight as he recanted the story of Good Friday during the Tenebrae service at our church. When you think about the last seven words Jesus spoke from the cross before he died, you realize that Mike is in heaven with Him.

Jesus first words on the cross were words of Pardon. He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus said this about the very men who had just nailed him to a cross even though he did nothing wrong and didn't deserve it. This showed us the grace of God. Were those men sinners like Mike. Yep! Did they or Mike deserve God’s forgiveness? Nope, but Jesus was on that cross to give it to them anyway. It wasn't about what Mike did, it was all about what Jesus did for him.

The second words on the cross were words of Promise. The criminal who hung next to Jesus had not lived the life of a Christian. He may have never even been in a church, but Jesus told him, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Grace again. There were times in Mike’s life that he lived as a Christian. There were also times when he did not. He told me about his anger with God for not taking his CF away. A couple months before he died he said to me, “Mom, do you think God won’t forgive me . . .because you know, I’ve been kind of mad at him . . . and now he might think I’m only coming back because I might die or something?” I smiled at him and told him, “Mike, you know God doesn’t work like that. You know the story of the prodigal son. There is much rejoicing in heaven.” He relaxed and had comfort. That Faith that was planted in his heart was still there. 

How was I so sure Mikey was forgiven? Because Jesus gave us the example of the thief on the cross J Because Jesus lived a perfect life for him. Because Jesus did it all for him and us and left nothing for us to have to do for ourselves. By saying, “It is finished” he let us know that we did not have to add to the work of salvation he had won for us. Yep, it’s that simple. It’s called grace. If you want to hear the rest of the story go here to hear Pastor Parsons' explanation. I just plagiarized the heck out of his sermon but he won’t mind. He plagiarizes the Bible every time I see him ;).

So I love it when the Biker Brothers of Mike’s drive by because it makes me think, “Mikey’s H O M E!!” And that gives me such peace. It always brightens my day. Pretty much every day until the snow flew last fall one of them rode by my house . . .Bear, Stinky, Dirty Mike, Stretch, Auggy, Chrome . . .too many to name here.

And now Spring is here and they are B A C K! Nugget, Chris and Stretch, Radar, Rooster and Lil Bit (she is soooo tiny) . . .

Thank you guys! You always put a smile on my face! May God bless you as you have blessed me! May you find comfort in the cross and the empty tomb this Easter weekend which gives us hope for eternity and the reunion with our loved ones!! Love you so much!

Blessings to you!