Monday, December 21, 2009

The Father's Hands

My Father's hands are nail-scarred from hanging on the cross. His cross was in the middle between thieves. The repented and one didn't. They had accept or deny. Will I accept or deny my thief? How do I accept grief and allow myself to experience redemption. This process is uncharted because it is different for everyone. Jesus accepted the thief at heaven's gate and he entered into never-ending joy. Can my grief experience never-ending joy when it is redeemed? Tonight Kira is holding onto those nail scarred hands - redeemed. Here I am floundering around in unredeemed grief...unable to give it all to my Father even though I know in my heart that is where I find redemption. Redemption because of nail scarred hands. I give it...I take it back...I give it...I take it back. The best part of all is that I know my Father. My Father is patient, understanding of grief and it's process, and as much as I hate it - He is holding my little girl on Christmas. Tonight I picture Kira with her head on those nail-scarred hands. The same head that last year was on her earthly father's hands.

I was looking at this picture again today and thought the rest of you might enjoy it too. I don't know what inspired her to do this more then her genuine love for her daddy.

We all miss Kira so much these days. Marlea wanted to buy her a present and bury it on top of her casket, so it could be closer to Kira. That broke my heart. It's extremely difficult for me to have serious conversations with Marlea about Kira right now because of the pain associated with Christmas. Please pray that I would be able to remain open about my feelings with her. It would be so much easier right now to shut down but that has damaging results for all of us.

Merry Christmas! Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Thief

I am always aware of a thief I have. It's with me all the time these days. It constantly reminds me that Christmas for us this year brings pain. It steals my joy of buying gifts - I wish to buy gifts for one more person. It steals my joy of making cookies - I wish I had one more person helping me. It steals my joy of planning a surprise for Daddy - I wish I had one more person planning it with me. I even feel it stealing my longing to go to Ken's Joys (a store with hundreds of things that make little people happy.) I love to go there and buy simple things that bring big smiles and hours of entertainment. It comes beside me and mars the joy that comes from children planning surprises for each other. It takes over and wipes me out. I give up and give in to it again. My thief is grief. I am learning that this thief and the joy of Christmas are on opposite ends of the spectrum of my feeling. To experience them both at the same time feels very confusing. But really, Christmas isn't about giving presents and family time - although they are good things. Christmas is about Jesus - His ultimate gift of His very own Son to be my Saviour. The Saviour who died for me - the Saviour who can take control of my Christmas thief if I let Him.

Last year after I was at Ken's Joys, Merlin took the girls into another room separately and let them help wrap the presents they were giving to their sisters. It was quite the ordeal and I observed with amusement the one that wasn't wrapping and trying to see and hear underneath the door. I can still see Kira there - her ear as close to the opening between the door and the rug as possible, just hoping to get an idea of what Marlea and Daddy were wrapping inside.

My writing portrays my pain. All of us feel it. Marlea was talking about it tonight also, so I know she is thinking about it too. The struggle to stay present and be real is so difficult these days. Pray that we would exercise the grace and courage to embrace the reality we're experiencing.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Haunted Memories

Memories are unavoidable. They are a part of my life - a part of who I am - a part of who I am becoming. Memories are etched in my mind, even in my body, and also in my heart. They won't leave; no matter if they are good or bad. Some of my memories seem to haunt me. I would like to erase them, to pretend they never happened, push them out to drown in the sea. They seem to chase me sometimes, reminding me that I will never be the same; and that is true. Circumstances that mimic the last hours of Kira's life in our home seem to make me freeze. This past weekend, Anna had her first experience with the flu. Merlin was gone for the weekend, so I was alone with my fears and memories. As I lay beside Anna in bed, the darkness and memories overwhelmed me. Hours before Kira took her last breath, I had laid beside her in bed also. I thought she would be there beside me the next day too, but she wasn't. I was at her bedside at Hershey Medical Center. I looked over at sweet little Anna and wondered - will she be here tomorrow? My mind raced, flooded with memories I wish weren't there. They are not nice ones; ones a mother isn't supposed to have. The darkness threatened to crush me...I cried out to God in despair. I felt my hands clinging to the foot of the cross as Jesus reminded me that yes, these burdens, these haunted memories - I died for them also. They are not too big for Me - My grace is sufficient for you. I went to sleep, my arms still around the cross. The memories aren't gone - they will never leave me. But, God again used the situation to help me face the pain entrenched alongside the memories. A few days ago I heard Marlea singing "My Jesus has broad shoulders, his breath is stronger than mine." The song is actually worded "His back is stronger than mine." I doubled over laughing at that thought because her breath is strong sometimes, and the thought of Jesus' breath being stronger than hers was too much! Later I thought of it again and it also suddenly made sense; yes, Jesus' breath is stronger than mine. He could run many miles and still wouldn't be out of breath.

Kira was a Hershey kiss lover. In our back stairway we keep the cleaning cart for the inn. Kira would sneak up there and eat hershey kisses from the cart. The only mistake she made was in leaving a trail of wrappers around the cart and down the steps. And of course, a chocolate ring around her mouth. A wrapper is still one wants to move it. How I wish I could find her up there again. Sometimes I eat one, just trying to be like her.

The days seem long right now and I find myself not caring whether or not Christmas comes this year. It seems horrid to celebrate. I also dread the thought of memories being a year old soon; it seems if Christmas comes, soon the anniversary of Kira's death will also be here quickly.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, November 30, 2009

Outlets of Pain

Kira had two little friends at church. Janessa is three months older and Abbi is three weeks older. At Kira's graveside, Abbi came and sat on my lap. We sat silently on that cold February day. There were no words necessary. Together we threw Hershey kisses and daisies into the open grave. My tears ran as I held her, my heart crying out for my own three year old. The next day at church she was waiting with hugs for me. For months after that she was waiting every Sunday with a hug and would often sit on my lap for a while after church. Some Sundays she would have hugs for Merlin too. Nobody told her to do it, she just knew instinctively. She knew because she needed me too. She was also missing Kira, and I reminded her of Kira. My heart would often break inside - I wanted to hold her, take her home, and make her my own. But I couldn't, since she wasn't mine to keep. In July, she and her family left to be missionaries in Liberia. Her only request for me was that I sing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" at their farewell. I granted her request by sheer determination. I knew I was going to miss her dreadfully and it felt like another parting. As the weeks wore on after she left I realized that she was an outlet for my pain. Her hugs, her sweetness, just the feel of holding her was so much like Kira. Abbi is also Kira's second cousin so in some ways she did feel like her. She forced me to stay honest with my feelings. To stay alive, in touch, and to not deny them. But she did something more; she became my friend. I finally decided to try making another friend. I knew Janessa had a really difficult time after Kira died so I decided to try to become her friend. It didn't take long; now she sits with me for a little while almost every Sunday in church. She loves one toy I have in my purse. It is silly putty - Kira's very own special one. When we went to El Salvador, I let her keep it for me until I got back. I haven't figured out yet if she likes the silly putty, likes the excuse to come sit with me, or likes the silly putty because it gives her a connection to memories of Kira. Either way doesn't matter; what matters to me is that I have a friend that is Kira's age. When she is finished sitting on my lap, my heart cries out in pain. For a few minutes my pain was somewhat quieted with her presence. She reminds me of Kira, and helps me to be honest with myself and the feelings in my heart. In some ways, she is a bridge to my feelings. The energy I use in our relationship is an outlet of the pain inside of me. I thank God for Janessa and for Abbi even though Abbi is far away. I hope to be friends with them for the rest of my life.

In the last several months of Kira's life, each night she would pray a simple prayer. "God bless my teacher(Sunday School), God bless Janessa, and Trevor." Then her voice would trail off sleepily. I can still hear her say those words in my head. I often think of it as I lie in the girls' bed saying prayers. How I wish I could still hear it! I can't help but wonder who else she would have added to her list by now.

Thanksgiving was okay. Thanks so much to all of you who prayed for us especially on Thursday. I felt that lifted up feeling that comes from lots of intercession. Today I was moving pictures around and putting out our manger scene. I wished this to be last year. Instead it was this year and Kira is only in my memory. Marlea and Anna had lots of fun helping me and I tried to be brave and happy for their sakes. I feel time getting close to a year since she left us and I want to freeze. Pray that I would be able to sort out my feelings correctly and remain reliant on God. Some days I am very fatigued and it's hard for me to deal with life when I am tired.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, November 23, 2009


Grief - it's not something we like to deal with naturally. Grief - it's not something that can really be described or shared adequately. It's more just present and stubbornly stays. I have learned to appreciate grief. Grief has become part of my life; almost as much as eating. It causes awkward moments, frustration for loss of words, and inappropriate tears. I can sit somewhere and have lots of tears, not at all because of what I am seeing or hearing. If someone doesn't know me and is sitting beside me, at that moment my expressions can seem really strange to you. I have concluded that entering another person's grief doesn't take words. A few weeks ago in El Salvador I met a friend I hadn't seen for ten years. My friend speaks Spanish and my Spanish vocabulary is limited, so communicating is not clear. Being understood requires a lot of gestures, signs, and wonders. She was telling me about her family just when her little three-year-old girl ran by. Her daughter is full of life, looks "sparky," and has lots of energy. As she dashed by I burst into tears. I had no words, just - sobs and tears. My dear friend took me into her arms and held me. There were no words exchanged, only feelings and tears. She couldn't say what she wanted to say because I couldn't understand. I couldn't say what I wanted to say because she couldn't understand me. So we stood in verbal silence, communicating through both of our tears. What mattered to me was that she cared enough to enter my world. She knew instinctively why I burst into sobs when I saw her energetic three year old go dashing by. She shared my grief without words but was present and caring. Suddenly it all made some sense to me; grief is not something you can really explain correctly to another human being. It's a feeling deep in the heart and soul of a human that connects by bold love that comes straight from God. My friend simply put to practice what the Bible says in Romans 12:15 "Rejoice with those that do rejoice and weep with those that weep".

Thanksgiving comes soon; my mind goes back a year. We were at home all day; our neighbor Barry came over for lunch. His wife Rhonda had to work so it was just he and our family. The girls were delighted to have him here. Barry is a very calm person and always had a very calming effect on Kira. In fact she almost always behaved perfectly when he was around. They often played with Rhonda and Barry when they were out with their dogs next door and we had become good friends because of their puppy love. After lunch Merlin, Kira, Marlea and Barry played "Memory" for a long time. I can still see them on the floor playing diligently. This was big stuff to Marlea and Kira...Barry playing "Memory." Thanks Barry and Rhonda for the love you gave and give the girls...we still cherish those many good memories.

As I reflected more on the grief issue it continued to become more clear. I gained new understanding in that it's okay not to have words for grief; the feeling in your heart is what matters. I am overwhelmed when I realize through my eyes how much you all have given me. I am reminded again that giving to others is what life is all about; to be a reflection of Jesus. I want to be more like that!

Merlin has been doing quite well the last several weeks. It helps all of us a lot to feel more stable. Please keep praying that he and I will continue to heal physically and of course all of us emotionally. It's tough with the holiday season coming. I would like to run somewhere and hide. Instead I am trying to be brave and get out the manger scenes with Marlea; it has always been a traditional party in this house. Today we unboxed one nativity set and it was missing a wise man. Since Kira isn't here to defend herself, we blamed it on her (probable culprit.)

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, November 16, 2009


We were on vacation in El Salvador for the past two weeks; as we were preparing to go I searched to find the suitcases. I looked at them and just stared. There was just no way I could pack; no way I could pack up with my feelings. They were not going to fit. I searched vainly for a compartment big enough to contain them. I thought of several different pieces of luggage, and oddly enough they seemed too small. As I started putting things in the largest suitcase, I had no room for my baggage. What was I going to do with it? It seemed so heavy and enormous. Merlin packed the rest of the suitcases and no room was left. The next morning we put our luggage in my brother's vehicle and drove for the airport. As we drove along I felt confused. My baggage was coming along and yet is wasn't packed. Later as we walked down the terminal to the board the plane I felt it following me. I didn't have that free feeling one expects to have when going on vacation. The thoughts and feelings were following close behind me. I found myself wondering how what I was thinking was going to fit onto the plane. The plane taxied down the runway and yes, it was still with me. But the plane wasn't big enough. I sighed in relief, glad I hadn't tried to pack the mental baggage-realizing I would never have been able to stuff everything into a suitcase or any piece of something. Even if I had tried - the airplane could never have contained it all. I sighed again feeling overwhelmed with the thought that my baggage is too big to fit into an airplane. Ironically it followed me even though it didn't fit. My mind turned in consolation to Jesus and His promise to me in Matthew 11:28-30: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Yes, my baggage followed me but God's promise is stronger in my heart than my baggage.

Kira loved suitcases. To her they meant upcoming adventures. When she was smaller she used to love climbing into and out of luggage. She didn't care whether or not things were in the bags. As she grew she realized she could pack her clothes in to go away. Marlea had her own red suitcase and usually shared with Kira. Kira would carefully put in lots of things. I always went through their suitcase and put numerous things back in her drawer where they belonged. She was always so pleased with herself for packing. Last Christmas Kira got her own suitcase. It was brown with polka dots. This was very important - to her it meant she was getting older, like Marlea. A few days later we went to Ohio over New Year's Day. She proudly stuffed many items into it as we packed. She was so happy to have her own she shone from ear to ear. Marlea's suitcase is red, Kira's was polka dot with a ribbon on and she knew Marlea was secretly jealous of it. Her suitcase has gone with us on every trip we have taken since February. Instead of Kira wheeling it, Marlea does. It's a touch of Kira we take along. Marlea used it for her carry-on on our trip. Tears came to my eyes as I watched her with it. Many questions, wishes, and pain went through my heart.

We were able to relax and enjoy our vacation. It felt good to come back to Kira's pictures and memories. I hadn't been in El Salvador since we are married and it was Merlin's first time there. We enjoyed a new place, new memories, and new people. We can't speak Spanish so that meant limited conversation, which was good for both of us. Most of all, we enjoyed spending time with my parents who are there as missionaries for four months.

I thought maybe if I don't write for three weeks you will just forget about us... I am blessed to know (and see on the site meter) that you haven't. I thank God for each one of you that prays and cares for us! I am dealing with adrenal fatigue, and ask for your prayers especially that I can regain strength and live accordingly.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, October 19, 2009


Places...different places bring different pain. Memories that are entrenched in our minds; unforgettable scenes; unforgettable sounds; unforgettable things our ears heard; memories that go with us for a lifetime; memories that different places bring back the pain and force it upon us. Here...this is, this was, this did happen to us. We are not only dreaming that Kira's death was horrible. Places bring back memories and become real to me again.
On Saturday we were at Calvary Monument, the church where we had Kira's viewing and funeral. As I sat in the pew, I looked tentatively down to where Kira's casket had been. Yes, I could see it in my mind. Just being at the same place brought back memories as if they happened yesterday. The pain threatened to overwhelm me as I sat there and sang "Nearer still nearer, Lord to be Thine". Tears gathered around the corners of my eyes and trickled down my cheeks. Why do these horrible memories need to be part of my life? Why when I sing "Nearer still nearer" do I think of that and Kira. I don't want it to be like this. I want to draw nearer to God some other way. Any way but through losing Kira. But no, I can see the scenes. They are part of my life and I will not lose them. My mind drifts to the many people that embraced our pain with us. The many who came to comfort us at the viewing. I can still see the faces...hear the words... and feel the hugs. I still remember the feeling in my heart as I realized over and over again the love other people had for our daughter and us. And so I sat and embraced the memories... memories a place brings me, memories that are embedded in my mind, memories that are part of my journey to healing and God.

Kira loved doors. Ever since I can remember her getting around she liked to open and close doors and gates. We have a gate outside our house on an arbor. That was one of her favorite places to play - open, close, open, close. She also liked to open the front door. To her it was her ticket to freedom. One day she was playing with a key. She tried it on doors but that wasn't enough. In the process she tried it on the front door, got it open and sneaked outside. It was nice outside and she decided to cross the road and try the key on the door over there. That is where I found her, opening and closing the door of the barn across the street - fitting the key in and out. Needless to say, I was a frantic mother and had confirmed in my mind that some children necessitate extra-protective angels. A few more hair-raising experiences occurred, mostly ones that come with little people who are taller then their minds can handle. As a result, Merlin needed to go to Home Depot and purchase chain slide locks, which Kira couldn't open. They were not to keep people out, but to keep roamers where they were supposed to be.

Thanks for your prayers. Grief and stress have taken their toll on our physical health. Please pray that we would continue to heal emotionally and physically.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Last Purchase

Gravestones-I dislike them. I don't want to purchase one, I don't want to look at them, I don't even want to talk about what to put on it. I would like to avoid the subject. Can't the grave have just a little marker? Actually if the marker would be removed, that would be fine - I will just pretend that Kira's death never happened. Grass can grow and cover the plot and no one will ever know in a hundred years the sad story of our little sweetsy-tweetsy. I just don't want to admit that we need to buy one for Kira. I can't bear reading her tombstone. How can her life be portrayed accurately on a tombstone? How can I go to the graveyard and read "Kira Mary Yutzy" on one of those cold, barren pieces of stone? How can it be that this child who made me lose my brown hair be the same child for which we buy a gravestone? Just eight months ago I could never sit here and type on a computer. I would have had too much help. Just eight months ago that body that is now under the sod in the graveyard was here bouncing around on the office counter. Just eight months ago I was a normal person. Now it feels like making the last purchase for our little girl will change me even more. To admit she needs a gravestone is to admit she died and isn't here on this earth anymore. Only her legacy, her stories, and her pictures. To make the last purchase is tempting me... I can hear the stone being put on the ground with a thud. It tempts me to put a stone on my feelings with a thud. But I can't, and I won't. I can't deny what has happened - reality. I can't deny God and his faithfulness to me, to us. I will try to be brave and help Merlin make good choices regarding the last purchase.

Often when I tried to answer the phone here in the office, Kira would come along and climb up onto the counter. At the most inopportune times she would scream or loudly talk. Her favorite thing to do was to plant herself right in front of the computer screen. Therefore, I had to look at her and laugh instead of typing the reservation information. It was a great way to get my attention and way too funny for me. How much more obvious as a child do you have to make your wishes known that you would prefer the attention be on yourself? I would be irritated sometimes but much more often I would laugh and lunge for her - which is exactly what she wanted.

Please continue to pray for us. In some ways the situation seems more awkward to relate to than it did seven months ago. It's hard to explain how the pain keeps on affecting us. Pray that we would be able to parent our children effectively still in the midst of our pain and theirs. Thanks so much!

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, October 5, 2009

Searching to See

I am still searching for the missing piece, and I can't find it. I know who the piece is, but she is not here as far as I can see. Why can't I see? I feel blind, not able to look, as if it is beyond me and my human body. And it is - but I want to smash something to be rid of this blindness. The thought makes me angry. Maybe I should go on a search around the globe looking for my missing piece. Why do I have to miss her - a child I loved more than myself. This longing inside of me is intense - I feel frustrated. Last night as I lay in bed I was talking to Jesus. Suddenly I felt Kira beside me, her head on my arm. I cried out - God I can't handle this, take the feeling away. I could feel her - why couldn't I see her? It felt too good. Just think... if I could have her back again everything would be okay and this nightmare could be over. I heard Jesus say to me "Okay if you are not ready to have feelings like this that is okay." That quickly the sensation was gone, and again I was left searching. I would like to bottle my sin and kick it away - so far away that it would never come back. Then my search would be over; because if I wouldn't be on a sin-cursed earth I would be able to see heaven and Kira; then my missing piece would be found. The curse of sin blinds me, and keeps me from seeing heaven now. I wait in pain for the day when the curse on mankind will be broken and I will finally see. I long to see what I suspect more and more. I am suspicious that heaven is right in front of our eyes. Our sin - the curse on mankind from the Garden of Eden - keeps us from seeing heaven. I firmly believe one day we will see and ask "How could I not see? Why did I waste so much energy being sad when really Kira - and all of heaven - was so close all along." God, Jesus our Saviour, His glory is too much for us. "For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1 Corinthians 13:12. Thank you Jesus for the cross, wherein lies my only hope!

Kira and Marlea were excellent fighters. I often spent a lot of the day solving arguments and fights. Don't get me wrong - there was lots of fun play in between scuffles. At one stage - when Kira didn't like what Marlea was doing, she didn't waste any time letting her know how she felt. She would just pick up a handful of crayons and throw them all at Marlea; handful after handful until I reached her. One day as I was driving, I looked back and saw them holding hands. It was so sweet. Marlea was in the back and Kira in the seat in front of her. They were both straining their arms and Marlea was leaning forward as far as she could. They were both smiling sweetly. I smiled and realized that the saying is true "This (fighting)too shall pass." The crayon throwing wouldn't go on forever.

My prayer request is the same as last week: Pray that especially I would be able to believe that good things will happen again. Satan would like me to believe that's not possible. I have fears to conquer and feelings to work through regarding particularly my children becoming sick. I find myself nearly panicking whenever there is a slight fever with either of them. I sit and wonder if this will be the last time I will hold my child. I can hardly help from feeling that way because it is so real to me. Pray that I can trust God as my mind relates to those memories.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Missing Piece

I often seem to be looking for something. I feel like something is missing. Maybe I am forgetting something as I walk out the door. I double check myself; I have my keys, phone, and wallet - everything is here. Today I was working in the girl's bedroom trying to rearrange so everything fits. They all sleep in one room so everything has to have a place, or there is no place to walk. I keenly felt as if I could arrange everything, but still something is missing. It confused me. I know what it is - I know who it is. I cannot stop missing her. It's her I am missing, her jacket I haven't zipped. Her doll that is still in the room; her shoes that I haven't tied. It's the one that I haven't strapped into her car seat. It's the one whose face I miss when I turn to look at my girls in the van. It's the one that I am missing as I clean up the bedroom - her opinions and ideas about how I should do it. It's her dolls that no one is mothering. It's her things that are still in place, untouched for months. They float around and Anna plays a little with them, but they don't really have an owner. It's her stuffed animals that dominate the pile. They lie forsaken and lonely - waiting just like the rest of us for their owner. But she doesn't come; she isn't hiding, neither is she sleeping. Merlin comes in the door and she is not with him... Kira is the piece that is missing. She is the piece that will be missing until we die. We will need to be okay with the missing piece. To learn to be joyful when we are missing a piece of our life is not an easy feat. And so I lovingly pick up her dolls and put them on Anna's bench. Tears threaten to rain as I rearrange the doll chest and put some favorite stuffed animals on it. I remember from where each one came and I smile. Every one of them comes from a guest here at the inn. Every one of them is full of character, just like her. Crazy ones - like a brown moose that she loved; a frog holding a baby frog; a teddy bear that could wrap its arms around her neck; a lamb that sang her lullabies when she was a baby; a cute white teddy with a pink nose; a lavender one with a ribbon that she always thought was so cute. A lion with which she and Marlea roared at each other. Almost all these had some time in her bed. I look at them and sigh, wishing she could still play with them.

A year or so ago I purchased some soaps that look like chocolate. We gave them as favors to our guests for Valentine's Day. Marlea and Kira thought this was big stuff and tried to sneak them whenever they could. Once I left one lying back in the laundry; when I found it again it had teeth marks on it with a small piece missing. Apparently Kira (with her love of chocolate) had thought it her chance for some chocolate and took a bite. She was so eager that her memory failed to remind her that it was soap, not chocolate. And so we laughed and the girls got one more bar of their beloved chocolate soap. It does smell and look very appealing. It must have not tasted too bad because I never heard anything about it from Kira.

Merlin continues to improve. It's almost scary for me because then when he has a bad day I get so discouraged and afraid. Pray that we would trust God and believe that good can happen. We were in Ohio last weekend and it was very enjoyable. Easier this time, but then it was so hard when we came home. Pray that we would not grow weary in embracing the pain and being okay with it. Sometimes we are so tempted to ignore it. Then when pain catches me again it is so hard. It's so much easier to be honest - then it is more the same all the time.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Grave

Every Sunday morning when we have gone to church for the last seven months, we have had a new parking spot. Strangely enough, no one else wants our parking spot. We are often late for church and our parking spot is still there waiting patiently for our tan Odyssey. Beside our parking spot is the church graveyard. In it lies the precious body of our Kira. Every time we go to church I glance at that little plot and wish that she would be walking into church with us. Wishing I would be taking her hand like I did so many times and walk into church. Instead, I take Marlea's hand and the other hand is empty. Merlin, Marlea, Anna, and I walk into church feeling empty. The pain is so real and seems so present when we are at the same place as her body. After church we walk back out to our van. We walk over to her grave (Marlea is often already there) and stand there sadly around it. Anna sometimes walks over it or runs off to explore gravestones - especially fingering the angel engraved into a memorial stone close by. My mind wanders back to the picture I have in my mind of her body in the casket. I think of the verse: "To dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return." I know it is true but it is so hard to think of the body I cared for and loved turning to dust. Then my mind drifts to heaven and the real pictures God has given me of her there. I feel myself relaxing in the peace of knowing that this is only her body under this sod-the real Kira is in heaven with a new body. I marvel again at God's plan of salvation and the triumph Jesus made over the grave. Because of Jesus, I have the hope of seeing my little girl again. Peace and reality mix as Merlin and I eventually turn around and walk back to the van. My tears flow as I climb in my door. A silent unspoken sadness reigns in our van as we drive toward home.

Often when I am in the graveyard on Sundays my mind goes back to two weeks before Kira died. My aunt passed away and we were at the graveside. Marlea was peering over the grave and Kira could have cared less about the whole procedure. She was enjoying herself immensely tramping around the graveyard between memorial stones and over a barren, recently covered gravesite. It was wet and muddy that day and her black boots were soon coated with sticky mud. Merlin at one point tried to entertain her on his shoulders. It was fine with her...he was at the edge of the tent, so Kira's head was way above the tent. It didn't matter to her that she couldn't see or that all she could see was the top of the tent. What mattered is that daddy was holding her. It didn't last long and she was soon back to stomping around. By the time we were done, she was a mess waiting to be cleaned up. Her daddy did the cleanup, though frustrated at her wandering.

Thanks for your continued prayers for us. School has started and brought changes for us at home. The house seems so empty and just not the way we thought it would be. Anna, though only 17 months old-and not having seen Kira for the last 7 months, often walks around the house on those two school days calling "Kiki, Kiki..." (she had not started until after school began). Pray that we can continue to seek and embrace God's plan.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, September 14, 2009


There is more to the removal of denial than I anticipated. My balance in this circle - and interrupting it - is being shaken to the core. Some of the events of the last weeks have intensified my desire to be more real and be okay with Kira being in heaven. By trying to face denial more intensely my longings for Kira have also intensified, which in turn makes the struggle to rely on God more intense. I keep reminding myself that I have chosen to trust God, and no one is forcing me to do so. I find that by removing denial, the other parts of "the circle of grief" seem to still be at home. I have decided that they are going to stay. They don't seem wrong to me. Anger is part of God. Bargaining can have it's place, although the Bible accounts of this don't always turn out really well. Depression is sometimes a part of walking through a valley - because when we are low we search the Bible more and seek out God. Life isn't all mountain top experiences, so ups and downs have their place in the balance. The last visitor in the circle "acceptance," is definitely a Godly attribute. These visitors are tipsy, and all of them can be taken too far. There seems to be a gentle balance between good and bad for them. Will I learn to live the balance? My visitors in this grief circle - with God's grace - will become balanced. Will I learn when I am tempted to overbalance to not do so, but instead rely and trust in God more? Will I recognize the signs of overbalance and stop myself before I get there?

Kira loved to come into bed with us. Neither Marlea or Anna liked to sleep there but to Kira it was the ultimate sleeping spot. She usually didn't care if I was there or not, it was Daddy she wanted. At fourteen months old she was climbing out of her crib by herself. Out of fear that she would hurt herself, we put her in a toddler bed. So of course this was great, since she could now find our bed by herself whenever she wanted to do so. She hardly ever slept through the night until she was two years and three months old - so this was a constant struggle. One morning after a particularly restless night, I awoke with a start. Where was she? I then felt some feet in my hair and after a closer look I found her curled around Merlin's head. They were both sleeping peacefully. I sighed and enjoyed the moment. I often think of those sleepless nights and thank God for them. I got to hold her and spend hours more time with her that way. Sure, they were frustrating but the experiences outweigh the frustrations now.

As I reflect on the balancing act I am once again drawn to the people that catch me when I tip over the edge. Our families catch us so often; but, it is in other ways too. Some days it is a card that I get in the mail that catches me. Some days a phone call or email. Lots of days it is the many comments left on here that encourage me. I have lots and lots I can read over and over. We humbly again say thank you.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Like a Sponge

I feel like a sponge. In the last six months I have been easy to wound - weak. You could press your finger on me and make an indention - just like a sponge. I have small holes in me that would be easy to fill up with traumatized thoughts, guilt, flashbacks, and fear. A sponge has holes in too; it can soak up any liquid. If the sponge absorbs the wrong type of liquid, it becomes hard; the same also to me. But, I haven't. I have been surrounded with people who have given, and then given even more. Friends have filled up the holes with scripture and with prayer. They have filled up the holes with promises and reminders of God's redemption waiting for me at the foot of the cross. They have filled up the holes in me with acts of kindness, prayer, kind, gentle, and soft words. I have soaked them up; my heart has saturated them. I look in people's eyes and see sympathy and true sorrow for our experiences. I let it soak in-I let myself feel Jesus through them. I feel like a sponge that will absorb lots of water. That sponge fills up. There is a cut off point where one wrings it out or the liquid will spill everywhere. Our friends just lost their seven-year old son yesterday. I mourn and weep for them. I am tempted to stay in my comfortable house. I could say "I can't go - it will bring too much pain and flashbacks." But they need others. They need people who know how they feel. Will I let my sponge be wrung out into other's deserts? Do I believe I have anything to offer them? Am I going to keep absorbing and absorbing and never give? Or will I let it come out? Will I let everything that has filled me, the energy other people have poured into my life, the kind acts and words that touched my broken spirit-can I let it out?

We were in Ohio to visit Merlin's family over the weekend. It was hard and good at the same time. It seemed okay to go - finally. We missed Kira so much, it could seem so raw again. I have had lots of opportunity to put last weeks thought to action. But again, my sponge was filled with kindness and tender words. Even Sunday morning at church, we saw people we haven't seen for months - and really I don't know them that well. But they genuinely care, and I feel Jesus through them. I was encouraged. It was so good to be with family again, even though it was different.

I will attempt to share my two favorite memories of Kira in Ohio. When we arrived at Grandpa's house, she had a mission to fulfill. Her mission was to find Grandma. We would sometimes arrive late and Grandma would be asleep on a chair. She couldn't feel at home until she found her. Once she was in the shower and had to wait really long until Grandma was done. She didn't have lots of words for Grandma, but the beaming, delighted face said it all. My other memory is that she liked Grandpa's rug in the living room. In fact, she liked it so much that she would crawl with the top of her head down against the rug and go across the floor like that just to be crazy. It of course made her hair stand out. I guess it was soft compared to our floor! Who knows?

I think of my illustration of the sponge and I am so thankful again for kind friends. Many of you have given to me so much again and again. Not just our friends, but our guests too, some that I really don't know very well. You have all given us deep sympathy and kind words. Thank you, and we ask for your continuing prayers. We are not finished soaking, but we desire to sometime have energy to invest in others again.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Circle

The grieving process seems to be a circle. It goes around and around, and never stops. It pauses briefly at each feeling - sometimes the feeling lasts a week before it continues. The main factors in this circle include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. They begin to feel like part of my life... and I am not sure that I like it. At first these factors were visitors and I embraced them because it seemed like the hospitable thing to do. But to stay - I didn't invite them to stay, let alone become a ongoing circle. So I decided to talk to God about them last week. God gently - oh, so gently encouraged me to slide one out of the circle and see what happens. Ironically I find myself starting with "denial." This particular visitor can really throw me out of shape. It makes tears come in torrents. And it makes anger come in bushels. Denial finds me bargaining with God-if only I had done this or that Kira wouldn't have died. It sends me spiraling into depression. Weeks later I come floating back up to the facts of life and acceptance. So I am trying to replace denial with God's grace. When I feel it in my face - I calmly think of the events leading up to Kira's death and say: "God, this is part of my life now. Part of my memories. I can't do this by myself-God. But, with your grace I am okay with it. It did happen and it is alright". And so I am able to stare denial in the face and say: "you know, I am tired of being in denial. You tell me things that aren't true and I choose to replace you with God's grace." I can testify that it is working. Maybe later on God will nudge me to slide another one out. Perhaps removing denial destroys the circle and the rest will need to leave and be replaced with other attributes of God. I haven't figured it out yet.

I had a chance to put my words to practice last week. We went back to Hershey Medical Center and had a meeting with Kira's doctor, nurse, and the PICU counselor. It was good and very hard at the same time. I dreaded going back; the day before our visit God gave us three specific happenings that were totally overwhelming, making it much easier to go back. We thank God for these three people and for the influence God has had through them. We had some questions for Kira's doctor and received the same inconclusive answers. We find ourselves grappling for reasons - but there aren't any. The situation was unavoidable. In a way that inevitability makes it easier because there is simply no way to associate blame. The visit did bring back unsettling memories and lots of tense muscles. We are still trying to un-string the muscles. The visit was hard on Marlea but she really enjoyed it. Not many kids get to see inside the PICU at Hershey! It has made a life-long impression on her. She hooks up all kinds of stuff to her dolls' mouths. Anna was okay, but also ready to leave. After her nap later in the day, she spent about an hour walking around the house screaming - just for fun. I guess it was her way of getting it out of her system because after that she acted okay and happy. It also made us reflect again on the faithfulness of God those days in the hospital. We literally felt like he was with us in the room with Kira. And the truth of the matter?... He was!

Marlea's birthday is tomorrow. She was so sad tonight about not having Kira on her birthday. Please pray that God will feel close to her tomorrow and that we can have a good day. It will be hard for Merlin and I too. The girls and I have a tradition of decorating the cake together and we had so much fun doing Kira's in February. Merlin has been feeling better again the last several days and we thank God for that. Thanks for your prayers!

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, August 24, 2009

Six Months

Six months used to be a long time. In six months, we went from snow and cold to the end of summer. School had three more months to go six months ago, now it has only several days until it starts again. Six months ago we wore coats, gloves, and mittens. Six months ago I vividly remember walking into Hershey Medical Center. My sister was with me. I had a coat on, long socks, and a sweater. I remember feeling the bitter cold wind since my coat was open. The cold stung my face and blew hard swirls inside my coat. I didn't care, it was so much less pain then what I was feeling in my heart. My heart was full of more pain then I ever knew in my life. My life, a few days before was happy and full of life. Now I was walking toward this building where my daughter lay lifeless. My sweet little girl who just a few days earlier had been running around after her big sister. I knew as I walked that I would be faced with hard decisions in the next hours, and that I actually wasn't counting on leaving with my daughter. I thought it would be the undertaker that took her home, not me. The cold seemed to go with the pain I knew would be mine to embrace in the next twenty-four hours. So I embraced the pain the cold gave me almost willingly. I silently thanked God that at least the weather matched the circumstances in my life. I bowed my head and pressed on toward that door of the hospital, determination driving me on. Determination to be the mother God wants me to be - strong, courageous, and gentle. To be the mother my little girl needed even though she couldn't see or hear me. Even though it was only my touch that mattered to her body. That night I pressed on - up the elevator - down the hall to PICU. To my heartbroken husband. To my ever-faithful family and friends who were with us night and day those five days in the hospital. Most of all to my little girl who needed me in her last night on this earth. I laid beside her most of the night - heartbroken. I went through the events of the next day with basically no sleep. I watched the last brain tests knowing what the outcome would be. Together, Merlin and I endured the torture of telling Marlea that Kira was going to die. We held our daughter as her heartwrenching wails reached to heaven and literally the whole way down the hall. We by the grace of God and your prayers endured the most horrible pain a parent can endure. Surrounded by our family and friends we said good-bye to our little Sunshine and Jesus took her home. We quietly said good-bye to the nurses and doctor, gathered her things, and stumbled out to our vehicle. The ride home was unbearable. We were so tired, heartbroken, and drained. The thought of coming in the door - all four of us without Kira was horrible. Determination straight from the throne of God was our only sustenance. And it was there along with lots of grace. I don't look back and say: "Wow, I don't know how we did it". There was no other way but God. He was an is so real to us.

There is more to this story that needs to be told sometime. I don't feel like the right time is here yet. I pray that God would give me the foresight and grace I need to complete the story. I don't feel as if the story is finished yet in our lives. Some of the things we felt that night six months ago are sacred, personal to both of us, and yet we both feel they need to be told for the glory of God. I will say this: I don't feel like we would have been able to physically and emotionally experience God like we did that night without your prayers. I am indebted.

A few days ago I found Marlea on the floor holding Anna. She was singing a song. "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey, if you only knew Kira how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away." She looked at me sheepishly and grinned. The pain was radiant on her face. I turned away, wanting to hide my tears. Remembering the many times she sang that song to Kira. She wanted to sing it to Anna, but it felt like betrayal to Kira to use Anna's name instead. In a way, it gave me a clear picture of the pain she still faces every day. The pain that comes out in other ways besides words. Pray that God would continue to give us wisdom to know how to guide her in the right direction. Next Tuesday is her birthday, and she already can't wait; she loves opening cards that have M-a-r-l-e-a written on the front.

Thanks to all of you for your extra prayers and thoughtful actions today. I spent the day sewing for my mother and it felt so appropriate to be doing something for someone else. Most of all, I felt God strongly encouraging me to enjoy our children that are still here. I did, and in a way it was so much fun and made the day bearable. None of their names are Kira, but I saw sunshine on their faces!

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, August 17, 2009


Rest-is there anything like it on earth for us to experience now? I ponder things; I try to figure out the days ahead, and my mind wanders. That is not rest. I work all day, and when I sit down I think about what I could be doing...that is not rest. I go to a party with my children and husband, and run after children all evening (I wish to have to run more!). That is not rest. On Sunday, I think I will rest. Instead, I care for my family. Although I love it - it is not rest. My heart wants to rest, my mind wants to rest, and my body wants to rest. Rest, is there rest anywhere? Does a mother ever really rest with both eyes shut and her brain turned off? More than that, can my heart rest? Can I be so okay with disappointment, pain, and reality that I feel rest? Can I in my simple humanness effectively turn my struggles over to Jesus and just rest in Him? My desire to fight is gone. My desire to be me and who I want or think I should be is gone. My desire to control my circumstances is gone. What's the point anyway? It is so much easier to rest in Jesus. Rest brings peace, no struggle, less stress, and a joyful attitude toward life. Rest is way at the bottom of the struggle; it's a giving up of my will. In it's place comes a filling of God like I have never experienced before. I feel no need to get upset with the trivial things of life. I feel in its place a passion to live for God - a passion to encourage those around me - a passion to keep my eyes set on Heaven. I feel more mercy from God than I ever did before. Endless mercy! It makes rest even more peaceful. The ultimate rest is Heaven. But I am amazed at the rest Jesus has to offer me here on this earth. It is just a taste of Heaven! "Come to Me all who labor and are heavy laden AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gently and lowly in heart, AND YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" Matthew 11:28-30

A few months ago Marlea and Kira were playing doll and dress up. They both had/have imaginary husbands. They both came to me with longing looks on their faces. The words that came out of their mouths astounded me. "We want husbands. You have daddy, but we don't have husbands". I could hardly keep a straight face. I said something about praying for one for when they are older. I keep that memory and tuck it in my heart. Remembering that Kira's wish came true and she is being loved perfectly by her heavenly Father.

Merlin continues to struggle physically and all of us emotionally. Pray that we would have a clear picture of what God wants in our healing process. We thank God for the healing we have experienced both physically and emotionally. We continue to thank you all for holding us up. We have never felt forgotten in our current's almost six months.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, August 10, 2009


Disappointments-we face them every day. Today I feel disappointed. I am disappointed that life isn't turning out like I thought it was going too. I feel disappointment in my heart from not being able to understand God's whole picture from the beginning of my life. If He would let me see it, then I would know and wouldn't be disappointed because I would know what to do when. Instead, I am dealing with disappointment. My heart feels uncertain of what to feel when because it has disappointment in it. I find myself wary of trusting God. I find myself wondering why God gave us choices in life. I can choose to trust-I can choose to feel disappointment. Why do I think it has to be my way...why do I think this is God's plan B for our lives? What if this is God's plan A? Am I going to be okay with that or am I going to feel disappointment in God for the rest of my life because I think this is plan B? I want what I thought was plan A. I am disappointed that we now have to live in plan B; or I can choose to believe that God is sovereign? If I choose that avenue, I feel peace, trust, and life is okay. To believe that God is sovereign creates a strong thread that winds me tightly in my Father's embrace. I picture me there-not because I have to, but because I want to. Choices He left up to us. I feel broken there - yet loved. I feel tears because with that embrace I choose to believe that God knows what is best for me. My disappointment is replaced with an amazing sense of trust, security, and loyalty for my heavenly Father.

Last summer the girls had this hang up on getting mad at people who came close to our porch. For those of you who don't know us, we live at a bed and breakfast and our front patio goes right out onto the parking lot for our guests. One morning last summer Kira was out there with me and along came one of our guests. Kira, without batting an eye said "Hey old man!" I could have died of embarrassment. I appreciate this guest and his family very much and felt terrible that my two-year-old daughter would talk like that. I still don't know from where those words came. The worst part of that statement is with the consideration that children usually repeat words from their parents; so one could assume that is how we talk when no one is around. That of course not being true, but how could we prove that when our two-year-old pops off a statement of such disgrace? Fortunately for me, my guest was very gracious and understanding! Any amount of graciousness couldn't take away my embarrassment!

The past week has been fairly stressful for us again. As a result, we are feeling weak. Merlin is not doing very well tonight and I feel disappointed that the doing better is not holding out like I would like for it to do. Please pray that we would be able to melt our will to His. Please pray that Marlea would feel the security and love of Jesus.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Love of God

One evening when I was filled with pain, I opened my devotional and found these words from Ephesians 3:17-20: "I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope." I want this. I want to know, experience, and to have Christ at home in my heart. I want roots - deep, long, unmovable ones. I want to understand - and yet the Bible says I never will fully. I want the power, the boldness, the energy that goes with it. I want God to be glorified.

As I repeatedly read this passage I cried and cried. I don't understand the things God has allowed into our lives. But neither do I understand the love God has for me, as His child. And His love is so much greater then anything else I know. The small taste I have and know about is that if I really can grasp that God loves me like this, anything that happens in life will be okay, because with love God has my best in mind. But I am human and so little compared to God. So therefore, I will never quite get it? And yet I read - then I will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. I chose again to love, to believe, to trust.

At the mountains this past weekend I was reminded of Kira so much. One picture in my mind that I have of her is - she was out in the lawn, a huge lawn following her daddy who was playing a game. Nothing else mattered except trotting after him. So what that there were other children and things to play with. It was daddy she wanted to be with so it didn't matter how long or hard she had to walk. On the flip side I think of this and it reminds me vividly of the loss of this picture for Merlin and I. But I enjoy the memory. It is embedded in my mind, and it reminds me of what I want to be like with my heavenly Father....

Thanks so much for praying for us again this past weekend. I can say it was probably one of the most draining emotional times for numerous reasons, and yet I so strongly felt the love of God, and His grace. We could feel your prayers, we could feel God. Marlea didn't seem to think it was a big deal because Kira was there anyway. Sometime we will understand more and I know we will be surprised.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, July 27, 2009


Talking is an amazing act of the brain, vocal cords, tongue, and mouth. It's what we use to communicate our heart, our feelings. By using this tool we convey to other people who we are. We base our opinions of people a lot by what they say. We use quotes from people who died many years ago. Sometimes we are not sure what to say, and the wrong words come out at the wrong time. We want other people to share their feelings but we might have to ask a simple question first. That simple question is the bridge, a bridge into people's hearts. Picture with me an old concrete bridge-the kind with big round holes in the bottom for boats to pass through. There is a break in this bridge. Across the gap there is a skinny two by four. Caring questions are that bridge. They open the way to meaningful conversation, heart feelings, intense struggle. They might be what that person needs to feel God right at that minute. A person can be intensely lonely but a question can change it all around in minutes. A person might be hurting but a question can bring that person out of despair and straight to Jesus. One might be thinking nobody cares, but your kind question is an act of "a little of Christ" to him or her. We are generally scared of talking, especially in anything involving intense pain. We are scared to ask that simple question. On the other hand, if asked that question - some of us are afraid to be honest. Bridging the gap is so intense because Satan loves to make us feel alone, lost, and in despair. Martyr style is great for him. Jesus wants us to bridge that gap; He calls us to be caring, gently guides us to ask questions, and gives us the strength to relay our feelings to others so they know how to care for us. Talking also connects happenings in our lives. Situations change us - to talk bridges that gap and connects us to the person we are talking with. It connects us because we feel care, love, and concern for each other when we talk.

Today two people stand out in my mind when I think about talking. Both of these people wouldn't have had to ask me any questions, they wouldn't have had to share personal experiences with me. But they did, they braved it and looked me in the eye. They cared enough to take the time to encourage me. They were "a little of Christ" to me. The one person I met briefly maybe twice. The other I had never met before. In turn, I listened intently to their words, their story. I cared about their pain in ways that I wouldn't have before. If only I could have been like this without being in such intense pain myself. Jesus did it-I want to do it to. Matthew 5:15 reads "Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house."

Kira was just turning into a little lady. She was leaving the two year old world and entering the world of a three year old. Linda, my sister-in-law shared a memory with me this weekend of the last time she had been with Kira. When we arrived for Christmas, Kira came up shyly beside her and said: "Hi". So sweet, so her. I can feel her beside me now saying: "thanks for supper, mom". I guess God makes the little ones who are more high maintenance sweet so the good outweighs the bad. They are heart melters.

Thanks to all of you who bridge the gap bravely in our lives. You are daring to walk onto that narrow path holding us by the hand. You have encouraged us gently to talk - to share our feelings and intense struggles. We will never be able to repay you but you have drawn us to Jesus. Thanks especially for praying for us last weekend. The hole Kira left is huge and it hurt so much to go on vacation and have a good time without her. But again, talking with our family helped so much!

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, July 20, 2009


We say it all the time-coincidence. We believe it as we hear a crazy story. We act as if it were coincidence when we tell something that happened. We walk down the road and just happen to see a friend. We call someone and they were going to call me-it just happened..? We read a book and it just happens to meet a need. We open our Bible to read and find just the right verse. Do things just happen? Is there anything like coincidence? The last four months I have been thinking a lot about the whole ordeal and since then. The many things that have happened were so right. When I called 911 - I believe God arranged which operator would answer. She responded with exactly what I needed; she has touched me in ways I didn't expect. In a matter of three minutes my neighbor was charging in the house - I didn't even know him then. He came complete with an EMT license and a bag of medical emergency stuff. In seven minutes the ambulance was here and Kira was in the ambulance. It wasn't coincidence...this is amazing...this is God. This was so fast for everything to happen! I know all this because the emergency operator was timing it. In fifteen minutes Kira was at the hospital. At Hershey she didn't just happen to have the right nurses. They were all so gentle and caring. I firmly believe we had the perfect nurse for each day we were there. Coincidence - no...God! The doctor she had was exactly the right one-the more he learned about her, the more he loved her. He sorrowed and wept right with us. God knew we needed him - it was no coincidence. Since then I could recall countless times when I received cards with exactly the right verses and words from people who care. I could tell of numerous times when my devotional in the evening was exactly what I had been thinking all day. The one night after writing a blog and using a verse, that same verse was in my devotional. Coincidence - no...God! God is so much bigger then we think He is. It is so beyond our comprehension how insignificant we are, how God can be everywhere at one time, and how much He cares for us. These things I mentioned here are from God. I don't believe in coincidence anymore. There have been too many. I firmly believe that God is the controller of this universe and every little detail that happens in it. Yes - bad things happen. Bad things happened to me - but look how God cared for us in spite of it all. I can't get around it-I honor the God of heaven and earth!

In the morning when I am doing breakfast for my guests I miss Kira so much. She often woke earlier than the other two. If I was finished making breakfast I would hold her on the rocking chair and rock and cuddle her. I would sit there as long as she wanted. It was her "momma time". Last week I was thinking so much about it and missing her. What do you know, that morning Anna woke early and has been every morning since. Coincidence - no...God! No, she won't replace Kira but it was a touch of heaven to me. I miss those momma times with Kira...Jesus, please hold Kira for me. Oh, the pain that goes with trusting that Jesus knows how to care for her is beyond words.

Merlin's bad days are definitely getting fewer. Praise God with us for that! Thanks so much for caring and praying. The next two weeks look trying to us, since both our families will be spending time together; and so, our first family vacations without Kira. Please pray that we would feel God's grace in real ways. In some ways it looks impossible....

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wanted: a Map

Today is my birthday. On my birthday I like to plan a little about the next year. What will I do, who will I become, what would I like to change to become a better person? Today, July 13, 2009 I wish for a map. A map that would tell me where to go in life, with all my feelings and thoughts. A map that would give me some kind of direction of how all my sorrow and pain will become redeemed and beautiful at the foot of the cross. A map to tell me how to let it be redeemed-how to let it become beautiful. A map to direct if I should go east, west, north, or south. Right now I feel like I am being pulled in all directions. They are interpreted by denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and the most encompassing one: acceptance. The acceptance one is a pull that feels like all directions at once. Also the most confusing - because I will never be okay with what happened to Kira. My acceptance has to do with being redeemed by Jesus. I wish this map would also tell me who I will become after this fight. How do I know what to feel if I can't see the end result? I have no idea who I will become, or who I am even trying to become because I am not trying to become anyone and yet I am changing. But really what has changed is the direction I am goal is heaven more then ever before. There is a map to heaven - it is the written word of God. That can be frustrating because I have trouble absorbing what I read. So that brings me back to the beginning: I wish for a map. But alas, there is none to tell me exactly where to go, what to feel. It is uncharted territory. I have never been here before. I have no experience. No one else does either because every situation is different. Sure - advice and insight help tremendously but really in the end it is us, Kira, and what happened. And the power I tend to forget about, the one who will guide me if I just let Him, the one who waits until I ask for direction: Jesus. I have been thinking about this for weeks already and already God brought a major happening into my life that was far beyond anything I imagined would ever happen. The healing I experienced from the happening was amazing and real. From this experience I can trust more easily that God is in control. But it takes a tremendous amount of trust and being okay with the "lost" feeling.

Last year on my birthday we went to Chili's restaurant. We took the girls along. We had a great time, only I never got to eat my food. I had to bring it home and eat it later. We were so busy keeping the three girls happy I didn't even mind eating it later. If I remember right the keeping happy became a joke: Marlea fussing, Kira's tummy hurt, and Anna was crying. I wished for it tonight. We were only four tonight and each of us was quite well behaved in comparison. The fifth person would maybe have been acting like a little lady, too? It was almost like I could reach out and feel her presence. And yet if I tried it was unattainable, just beyond my reach. The hole.....

Pray that we will continue to trust our heavenly Father, and that we will feel His deep love for us. Pray that we would see glimpses of His Map as a touch of His reassurance that He does indeed love us.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, July 6, 2009


Disconnected-that's how I feel. Over four months later I find myself wondering "Did this really happen to me, am I sure it happened, is it just a bad dream?" I look outside and see someone walking past on the road or next door-maybe it happened to them and not me. I see someone at the store-maybe that was their child I heard about. I meet a car on the road-maybe it is them with an empty car seat. I have trouble remembering who I am. I have trouble remembering what the pain is that I am feeling so strongly. I get mixed up and upset about strange things that have no significance in comparison to the real pain that I feel. I have trouble identifying the issue when my children are upset...after all - what really are they feeling? How am I to know when their little minds don't understand everything. So I falter, guess, and guess again. Sometimes I am right, sometimes I am way off. Usually they are just like me: confused, searching, and hurting. Sometimes I need to be reminded that it is summer and not fall or winter. How would I know when I can hardly recognize beauty? I look at a picture of the five of us and wonder who those people were. I wish with all my heart to feel the middle child on that picture and know her now, today. In that I remember the pain, reality, the happenings of the last months. Today I remembered it by reading the blog from Feb. 24th. Tears came, I couldn't deny that it's not true. It sounded too familiar. I am the mother, we are the family, it is our child/sister. She is gone, my worst nightmare became reality. I am not the same, and I never will be. I am confused, hurting, wounded and it's okay. Someday there will be no more pain, sickness, death, sorrow, or crying. I will live today with life in perspective of heaven because there is no other way to live. I will live today knowing that God has me in the palm of His hand because there is no other way I can survive. I will live today because I am blessed to have two little girls yet to care for and a husband who loves me.

As I lay in bed tonight putting Marlea to sleep I was reminded of Kira. She was sometimes scary to lay beside. Not so much the last six months as before that. If she was mad at you for some reason, you needed to watch out. She had strong legs and very good aim. Somehow, she always managed to get me in the stomach with a good sound kick. If it wasn't the stomach it was my face. The aim was impeccable and produced some kind of fulfillment for her. Her mother - on the other hand - was not at all amused.

Everyone's encouragement to us is very uplifting. We continue to thank you all for it. It is so nice to read back over all these encouraging notes when I need an extra lift. Words can not express my gratitude. Merlin is still doing okay. He took another blood test and the infection antibody levels remain about the same. That was a bit discouraging, it would be nice to see improvement. Pray that we will not be discouraged!

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunshine and the Cloud

Sunshine - I feel sunshine again. I see it almost every morning as I stumble out to get the paper. I see it prodding a flower to be real and beautiful. I see it as I look out the window during the day. I feel it in my step, I hear it as I sing while working, and as I speak it to my children. I glance across the street and see our cow who's name ironically is "Sunshine." I taste it as I drink the milk she gives. It feels as if God is encouraging me to be brave and feel the sunshine of life. We teased Kira that her and the cow have the same name. Now, I look back and wonder at God. I feel sunshine as I tramp through the flowerbeds and step on green grass. I gaze in wonder at the sun and it's amazing God-given ability to give life to things that lie dormant and ugly. Amid the sunshine I feel a cloud. A cloud that seems to follow me wherever I go. It follows me to the store, on vacation, and to church. It even follows me to bed in the dark. The cloud has sadness in it. Deep sorrow, pain, and frustration. It contains a wish to live the last several months over and the new plan would magically be full of miracles. It holds the unending mystery of how life would be if Kira would be here right now. Sometimes it feels like the cloud holds the rain that comes out of my eyes and runs unashamedly down my face. The cloud frightens me. I have never lived with an overshadowing cloud. The more that time goes on, the more it seems like this cloud will stay with me for the rest of my life. Reality is that somehow I need to learn to be okay with the cloud. Right now it looks impossible, way too far out of my comfort zone. I never liked clouds; I always chased them away somehow or figured them out so I was okay with them. This cloud is so different, because God is in this cloud too. This cloud is somehow a tie to the healing process that I haven't figured out yet. Maybe it's not for me to even figure out. Maybe with God the cloud is chased to the foot of the cross? Maybe it will happen and I won't even realize it. Maybe the sunshine will make it smaller. But for now, I want the cloud. I also want it to be a redeemed cloud.....

Today I was doing some cleaning in the girls' bedroom. As I moved the nightstand that used to be Kira's something shiny caught my eye. There tucked in between the mattress and box-spring were two quarters. I snickered, remembering all the times she would run off with whatever money she could find. Her piggy bank had an unending appetite. It sometimes got so hungry it would eat all of Marlea's money or the change box pennies. I don't know where the quarters came from that I found today but something tells me they weren't hers!

Pray that we will be able to continue the healing in our lives. It gets almost harder as time goes on and yet the pain continues. I long for a picture of what healing actually is. To experience healing for such deep unending pain is somewhat mysterious to us. "This world is not my home, I am just a passing thru, my treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue..." are words to a song I think of during the day.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Grace of God

Grace-what is it, where does it come from. Hebrews 4:16 "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." To me grace feels so close. Daily, sometimes minute by minute I ask God for more. Sometimes I feel like I am begging and surely He is tired of me. Here I am again God - it's me again; I need more, please God. I even get demanding and say desperately: "Please God, hurry up, I can't do this on my own." There is always more, grace seems to be in endless supply. I am fascinated by what happens when I plead and ask for grace. In asking, I admit that I can't live life on my own, it's too big, over the edge. By admitting that I can't do it on my own, I am blessed with an abundance of peace. In feeling peace, I am freed from the cares of life. Sometimes it lasts for several days, sometimes for just a minute. People go through something hard and they look back and say: "If it wouldn't have been for the grace of God I wouldn't have survived." Right now, I feel God's grace so keenly that I feel it right now. I don't feel like I could live another minute without it. I am in awe of a God who has an endless supply of grace. I bow in thankfulness, realizing that if it wouldn't be for His grace, I wouldn't have the promise of eternal life. I want to get a hold of the verse in Ephesians 2:8 and live it out for the rest of my life in a deeper way. "For by grace ye are saved, not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." I spread my arms in praise, realizing that I wouldn't have been able to live the horrors of the last months without God's promise of endless grace. I face tomorrow knowing that once again I will be helpless, bent in pain, and there will again be enough grace for me to live the day.

At bedtime Kira would ask Merlin to "sing a new one." He would try and every time it wouldn't be the right one. Finally, he would sing "Jesus Loves Me" and then she was satisfied. "Jesus Loves Me" was new to her every day! Oh, the simplicity of salvation when it is viewed through the eyes of a child and Jesus' love.

It was hard to celebrate Father's Day yesterday. I feel like I almost avoided the pain, maybe good, maybe not. The pain of not having Kira here with us, the pain of not being able to watch Merlin with the three little girls was enormous for both of us. Thoughts go back to last year...but it will never be the same, yesterday is gone. Pray that we will continue to lean on God. Grace to embrace the reality of today. Pray that Merlin will continue to heal physically. We feel indebted for the care and love we feel and we pray that God will in turn bless you all richly.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, June 15, 2009

Broken Dreams

Last night I dreamed again that Kira was in the hospital, we were so upset-but then she recovered. We were so happy to have her home again and enjoyed her so much. I awoke with a start, thinking it was true and everything was okay again. Disappointment and anger came as I blinked remembering that no, Kira is in heaven, not back in her bed. Tears rolled in my heart as I tossed in my bed trying to come to grips with reality and be okay with it. God, why? Why is she gone? Why can't I still have her? Why did our dreams for her have to be shattered? Thinking of the dream throughout the day reminded me of our dreams for her...

Kira was so sweet-we had dreams that she would become a lady that brings tenderness and caring to people. Kira was joyful-we envisioned her filling those around her with God's joy. Kira was full of energy-we thought of all she would be able to do. Kira was smart-we watched that look of understanding growing in her eyes and realized she could become very intelligent. Kira was beautiful-we dreamed of her being a beautiful woman. Kira was tall-we pictured her at six feet tall, and even maybe more when she would be finished growing. As I thought of these things and pondered them in my heart I realized the pain of not being a part of these dreams. The dreams I had in my heart of being her mother, helping her through life, watching her discover things for herself, being there for her when the world crashes in, leading her to Jesus, directing her energy in the right way. Dreams, broken dreams, shattered in a couple of days. Shattered by just a few wrong twists of events. Dreams that are no longer earthly dreams; they have turned into dreams of arriving in heaven and seeing her again. Dreams that lay broken waiting for Jesus to heal them and turn them into something beautiful.

A few weeks ago I wrote on "Fear." I have felt a very distinct release of fear since being honest about it. Thanks so much to all of you for your encouragement. I realized again how the truth sets us free. Along with that Satan tries very hard to make me believe it's just my imagination that I feel better about it. He is trying another tactic with me, trying to destroy my vision and anticipation of heaven, or that it is even real. Please pray that Merlin and I will be strong in this battle and not believe the lies. The battle wages on. We know from prior experience that God hears the prayers of his saints, and we thank you for them.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, June 8, 2009

Who Am I?

Who am I? I am a wife and a mother of three girls. Two here and one in heaven. But, really I am not mothering my second-born anymore. When Kira was born I had a fairly big adjustment. With one child I was able to still do some cleaning and managed to keep after the office things fairly well. I could still answer the phone without guests thinking this is also daycare. With two girls, I had to make some changes and couldn't manage everything without more help. As Kira grew I hardly knew how to handle her energy. Also she was up a lot at night, so I was tired. It got to the point where I couldn't sleep anymore. I sought some advice and direction in how to deal with myself. I adapted to her and that worked much better. In doing that, I changed - mostly for the better and learned to live life as it comes instead of thinking I had to have it all figured out. That obviously wasn't working with my unpredictable child. I learned to enjoy her, laugh at her craziness-even join in. In that I became more crazy and carefree myself which was more how I used to be when I was a child. Maybe she reminded me of who I used to be? Now that she is no longer here with us I find myself wondering who I really am. How can I still be that person without her? I loved that sadness, no heartaches, totally carefree. I lived each day at at time - I had learned not to plan tomorrow for tomorrow will plan itself. Now, I laugh - but under it I feel a lump and so much sadness my heart wants to die. I feel like my heart will hurt forever. My carefree attitude seems gone like a vapor, just like Kira. I think of tomorrow and think "Oh no, I will feel the pain tomorrow just like I do today, maybe worse." What do I do with all these lessons life has taught me? They are shaping my life whether or not I like it. Do I let them, or do I rebel and run? Is there any possible way to combine and balance who I am becoming and who I was? But, I don't like this new person...I don't want to be her...I don't want anything to do with her. It's not my choice, not my life, not my day tomorrow. God doesn't mind being patient with me. He will bring beauty out of what seems to be ashes to me. And so I relax in the arms of my heavenly Father. It seems so easy... yet so very, very hard. The amount of pain and confusion that go with it are beyond words. I feel like the Israelites in the Bible who wandered around in the wilderness for forty years looking for the promised land. They had the tabernacle of God with them for direction and it had four corners, just like my Bible does. I could say more about that; just read about it too. The sermon was about the Tabernacle this Sunday at church and it made so much sense to me in ways it never had before. Most of all, I am thankful for God's Word!

Last night at supper, Merlin threatened to eat all the rest of the ice cream. All of a sudden I could hear Kira saying: "Mia(her name for Marlea), Ki-ki eat whole thing!" Marlea would scream in terror and anger and Kira would of course be delighted, with her mission accomplished. I don't remember what all she threatened to eat but I am sure it was something Marlea really liked! I can still see the look on Kira's face...

As you can tell, the pain goes on. Please pray that we will not grow weary, but be strong in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Merlin continues to improve and we are all enjoying our Daddy very much. It's been long! Please pray that his health continues to improve. He has a long way to go, but we praise God for the progress.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea and Anna

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Expectations of God

Expectation: the prospect of something good to happen. What is my view of God? Do I put myself on a pedestal expecting God to bless me because of what He allowed in my life? I feel sometimes like I hold Him out at arm's length. "God, if you do this, I will..." Is that actually how my heart feels or is that Satan distorting the fundamental belief that God is good? What makes me expect that I should receive blessings from God? Who am I, but a little person in the eyes of a big God. The Bible says that God sees a sparrow fall. If God cares about the sparrow, won't he see and bless me? But, why do I deserve His blessing? Am I a waiting - like a dog waiting for a biscuit? What if something "bad" would happen? Would I forsake God because my disappointment would be so great? Am I going to live life waiting for something? Or am I going to love God with no reserve - unconditionally. To love unconditionally means to love with all your heart no matter what happens. In all my wanderings and expectations I choose to love. Love is much more fulfilling, more calming, and a lot less worrisome. After all, if God loved me enough to die for my sins, why shouldn't I love? The human part of me will continue to question, and Satan will continue to try to distort. I might continue to wait for my biscuit but my God - my heavenly Father - understands. He created me with choice, understands my wanderings, and knows that I will come back to love because He knows my heart.

When Kira was about two and a half people would tell her "You're cute." With fiery eyes and an insulted look she would say: "No! Ki-ki!" Meaning "cute" is not her name, she is Ki-ki. She did the same thing when people told her she looks like her daddy. "No! Ki-ki!" She was her own person, whoever heard of looking like someone else, she was only Kira. We teased her: "Kira, are you cute?" Fire! "No, Kiki!" Her daddy loved that line!

Merlin was at the doctor this week. We are hoping that the recommendations will work for him. We have been on the medical route before and it didn't work. This will take a long time, but the end result looks promising. We also made some diet adjustments which seem to be working well. Spring allergy season is coming to an end, which should also be helpful.

Pray for Merlin's healing, and that our marriage especially could remain strong, and that we can continue to meet Marlea's needs in the way that brings her closer to Jesus.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, May 25, 2009

How it used to be

Happy shrieks of laughter, horrific arguments, and Anna yelling from being tormented. A sweet little girl finding her momma in the inn kitchen in the morning, calling her daddy on his phone for breakfast, wanting to be rocked all by herself while the others were still sleeping. Two little girls clamoring for Daddy's attention, two little girls running out the door to go with Daddy on a delivery, two little girls riding a dirtbike with their Daddy. The sounds of four little feet running through the house, two little girls eating supper, two little girls getting a bath, two little girls planning to wear look alike pj's, two little girls listening to stories. One little girl falling asleep during prayer, relaxed in her daddy's arms(at least some nights). Her older sister takes a long time to fall asleep - but she is out like the lamp. Two little girls laying in bed fast asleep, the shrieks of laughter are turned into dreamy thoughts and the horrific arguments are forgotten. A momma and daddy tiptoe in when weary eyes are closed-smile thankfully and turn out the light. Now, if we can just convince the baby to sleep yet, peace will be ours for a few hours. Later they come back again and smile, seeing three little girls sleeping blissfully.

These are scenes of the past for us. Scenes we enjoyed and loved. Times we treasure-moments we lived that will never be back to the same. Instead, one five year old who feels lost and lonely. One little girl playing by herself, occasional shrieks of laughter from a five year old and a baby trying to play together, but few arguments to solve. One little girl to read stories to, pray with, and try to persuade to go to sleep in her big empty bed. Momma and Daddy tiptoe in to turn off the light and there is one little girl in bed and a baby in the crib. Later, they tiptoe in again and smile thanking God for two precious little girls but dreadfully missing the third. We again cry out to God in our pain desperately needing His grace to sleep another night, live another day. Inside we feel like knocking on Heaven's gate, asking for answers that we can't find here. In our frailty we remember that when we do get to heaven's gate-the questions of this pain filled earth won't matter anymore. What will matter is that we lived the way God called us to live with our whole hearts.

Marlea's cousin spent a night and day here last week. When she left Marlea and I cried and cried. It was just a touch of how it used to be and then she left. The pain was unbearable for both of us. Trying to understand pain is difficult and yet so simple for a five year old. At the table the other morning Marlea said: "Mommy, how did Kira sound when she talked to her doll?" We both sat in silence looking at our plates trying to remember. Neither of us could and the pain was so intense. Wanting to remember so badly and yet we couldn't. Pray that our minds would be filled with clear simple memories. We passed the three month mark this month.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea and Anna

Monday, May 18, 2009


Fear-we all fear something. Some of us fear having an accident, an earthquake, a house-fire, or another natural disaster. Some of us fear people-their opinions, what they might think of us, what they might do to us. A lot of us fear not being good enough for ourselves, or our child or husband not being good enough for someone. Most of us fear change. A lot of mothers fear for their child's safety. Whether the child is an infant, toddler, adolescent, teeneager, etc. For me, my worst fear was that something would happen to my child. I was always more afraid of something happening to Kira-she was so unpredictable. In plain reality-it happened to me in front of my eyes. I can feel the terror realizing she lost her breath, of picking her up and yelling at her, hoping it's just a seizure. I look back and see the events folding out in front of me and yet they were so subtle that many mothers would have missed them. What's worse is even if I would have known, we would have had the same outcome. The thought feels full of fear, scary-what if it would happen again, would I know the second time? I look back again as thoughts roll through my head like a roller coaster. I feel the terror of realizing I need to do something. I feel the terror of yelling at Marlea to get the phone, calling the operator and asking her to help me remember CPR. My heart feels the terror of knowing that it is my child I have to breathe into-something I always hoped I would never have to do. I feel the terror of realizing she is dying infront of my eyes and I am alone. I cry out in terror and fear to God to save my sweet little girl. My heart feels the relief of hearing my neighbors come in - who I was praying would come when they hear the scanner. The fear in my heart is overwhelming by now and I am nearly losing my sanity but I keep helping wanting to touch and help my child. My terror only multiplies as the ambulance comes and whisks her off to the hospital. I run out the door behind them throwing their bags in the back and Merlin hastily kisses me and jumps in the front. I go back into the house and scream in fear. More fear than I have ever known in my life. God, please do something. I can't do this...I cried out to him aloud, screaming, yelling, thrashing.

That was only the start of my fear. Slowly I began to realize that God is here with me. My fear culminated on Tuesday when we made the heart-wrending decision to let her go peacefully... decisions I feared. Fear seemed to consume me as the end came. God calmed my fear with his presence. He let me feel his presence in a real way. When there was nothing left in me - way down at the bottom, God was there. I will never again say there is something I can't do - nothing seems hard anymore. Even my fear of death is gone forever. Suddenly I find myself with nothing to fear. If God cared for me in my worst fear - he will care for me in all my other worries. I still encounter them, but they flee when I remind myself of God's care in my deepest agony. I picture it as a balloon filled with fear and only a little space left for God tied in the knot. What if we could learn to fill the balloon with God and leave the fear tied in the knot. 2 Timothy 1:17 "For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Funny he puts the sound mind at the end after the words "power" and "love."

Merlin reminded me of Kira's favorite song when she rode in the truck with him-"Everything is going to be alright in Christ." She always joined in for the "in Christ" part. I think of that as I go thru the days. It's so true.

Life goes on for us. Merlin pretty much remains the same. Marlea keeps changing, definitely healing. I see more and more of the real, used to be Marlea coming back. It's wonderful and also helps me feel more normal. Anna is practicing walking and I so much wish Kira would be here to help her. I can just see her taking her hand and walking with her.

Thanks for caring, praying, loving, and understanding us in our pain.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, May 11, 2009

To Kira

Kira, today is the day after Mother's Day. I missed you terribly yesterday and yet in some ways I almost felt like you were here with us. What all goes on that we can't see? Who knows, will we never know and when we get to heaven will we care? I remember so well last Mother's Day how you were so excited about taking Anna to church for the first time. I was looking at the pictures we have of last year and you were happily holding your baby sister, so proud. I wish it was last year and everything would be okay. Marlea said today: "I wish we could be a happy family again." But, it's not last year, it's this year. We had a pretty good day. We went to the Make-a-Wish Parade and in the evening some family came over. It was different which was kinda nice. Even so, nothing could take away the hole that you have left. Nobody can fill the void, nothing can replace you. When I was outside planting flowers I felt like stuffing dirt in the hole in my heart. I tried, but it fell through the cracks. When I am folding towels, I think maybe I could stuff a towel in the hole, but alas, water seeps through. I am tempted to fill the hole with food, but I would never fill up. I am tempted to make my life so busy that I don't think about the hole-but it greets me at bedtime in the quiet. I laugh at Anna and Marlea, but they can't replace you. There will never be any other person just like you. I know yesterday you would have come and put your arms around me and so sweetly said: "Mommy, thanks for taking care of me". And that is all, you would have meant it with all your heart. My empty heart tries to feel it-but it's not real because you aren't here to touch, hear, and see. Some days I think I maybe if I wash your dress it would help, but I would hang it up again and you wouldn't wear it, just like before. Even my imagination can't fill the hole that you leave in my heart. So, I turn to Jesus. The Bible says in John 14: Let not your heart have holes, ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also. The end of life with holes Kira! Between now and then I promise to only stuff my heart with Jesus. I know you want me to be happy and full of joy, just like you were.

I got Kira's Little Tykes car out of the shed this week for Anna to ride. It still had dirt in the back from Kira. I looked at it-fingered it remembering how she loved the dirt enough to eat it, throw it at Marlea, put it in her hair, make it into a pond. And as a stood there looking at it-Anna starts eating it. Was I surprised? No, I was thinking about trying it myself. It must be good!

Thanks so much for your prayers, cards, etc. especially over Mother's Day. I felt very lifted up by Jesus. Please pray that Merlin and I especially would have patience with our grieving and that we would have patience regarding his health issues. We are thankful that he is able to function fairly normally, although mostly because he forgets how it is to feel good. Pray too for the spiritual battle that has become part of our lives. We want Jesus!

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, May 4, 2009

Living with Pain

Life with pain - I can't get away from it. Pain has become my companion. I have pain-emotional and physical. I watch Merlin experience emotional and physical pain. I watch Marlea in emotional pain. Even little Anna seems to have emotional pain sometimes. Hers comes out by screaming, being attracted to three year olds, and still looking for someone who isn't here. My emotional pain comes in waves a lot of the time. Sometimes it comes from situations, things I find that were Kira's, the extra time that I have from her absence. It is always there, part of my new identity. It feels like my emotional and physical pain have become one. At Kira's graveside I thought I would be okay...I had cried so much and it felt like it was just her body going down. I didn't cry lots but I had physical pain that can only come from a mother losing part of herself. I literally felt like I was burying part of myself, which is what was happening. This child's body that I had birthed, nurtured, and loved greater than myself was going back to the earth. In a way I was awed by God's plan and realized to a greater extent how much we love our children-they are part of us. The body pain has become part of my life forever. It is not something that will go away, because God created me to want to love and nurture her, and I can't. In that I find release in my emotional being because the sting of death is gone through the power of the blood of Jesus. In that my emotional pain will heal. My heart that is sliced open will start to heal. In it's place will be a scar, but with God's help I want it to be a beautiful scar. But, even scars hurt. The tissue around them stays tender and soft. I want that...I give my pain to Jesus moment by moment...only He who has taken the sting of death away will take the sting of my pain away. The pain will never be gone, but it will not feel so bitter. I again embrace it because out of that I will stay real and alive.

In some ways the change of seasons brings so many memories and we live the pain of losing Kira all over again. I can hardly bear to watch Marlea play silently and alone outside. It is so boring! I miss the peals of laughter from mud fights, bike riding, and playing in the playhouse. I miss the little hands helping me plant flowers, bringing me dirt and stones. I miss the little hands that last year snipped off all my daffodils and tulips. Flowers were meant for mommies, not in the flower bed. As I look ahead to Mother's Day I remember last year. Anna was two weeks old and we took her to church for the first time. Now there are only two little girls and we miss the middle one so so much. Please pray that we will continue to reach out and claim God's grace for our lives. Pray also that we will have faith to continue believing God has our best in mind.

Marlea wanted to blow bubbles last week so I went outside to find some for her. I found a gigantic yellow bottle that the Eismeiers (: had given us last year. I was delighted, thinking she will have lots of bubbles to blow. I opened it and was ready to pour some out in another container. Suddenly I realized that it was filled with mud and water instead. I laughed, remembering my little sweetheart and her love for the dirt and water. And also her passion of dumping bubbles instead of blowing them. I guess blowing took too long, dumping is much more efficient. I also cried...missing her.

Words seem pale to thank all of you for still caring enough to read the blog, care for us, and lift us to the throne of the Father.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna