Tuesday, January 27

Snow Tubing

Tuesday, Dustin and I had the opportunity to take the girls snow tubing with a family from our church. To say they had a blast is an understatement; Kadenn took to the snow as if it was her natural environment, and Kylei loved the thrill of speeding down the hills. I, on the other hand, feel like I broke my back (I guess that shows my age!).

As we drove to Whitetail, I looked into the backseat at the girls. They were all smiles and giggling with excitement. I also envisioned Baby Todd, sitting in his carseat, with no idea of what was to come. This would be his first visit, of many, to Whitetail.
There have been other "firsts" that we have already experienced with out Baby Todd. Like our first sunday back to church, and our first dinner with Pap & Nan at their new house.

Today there are bitter sweet emotions, we are starting to get into the swing of things, which is a good thing. On the other hand, we still have the feeling of forgetting something. I know we will never forget Baby Brother, but moving on without him, kind of leaves us with that feeling. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

Sunday, January 25


Wednesday night at bible study we had "prayer night". This is when our bible study group gets together (every other Wed.) and have a couple praise songs, a devotion time, take prayer request, and spend the night in prayer. The devotion was given by "Doc's wife" and I thought was very good , so I asked to share it on the blog. I think this hits home for everyone (where ever you may be in life) and gets us thinking. Please feel free to comment on how this one little word "hits" you. I think it will be very encouraging as we walk through life "with" each other.
WITH. W-I-T-H. With is one of those words that in itself seems to have very little meaning. By grammatical definitions it is a preposition, or as Webster would describe it, “a word that combines with a noun or pronoun to form a phrase.” In fact, when looking up the word “with” in the dictionary one comes across a whole slew of definitions that are all dependent on the words that come before and after it within the phrase that it is used. And yet, somehow, that one, small, insignificant word embodies a whole lot of spirit.

With. “Daddy, come with me,” were the words of a young girl who had forgotten to do her chores and was terrified to go outside alone after dark. “With” meant heaving protection and comfort.

With. It’s what girlfriends do. It is those trips to the bathroom together for a quick therapy or giggle fix – whichever the situation at hand might require. It is the spontaneous adventure taken together. It is the “partner in crime,” the one who will get into trouble with you and will still be there to laugh at it in the years to come. It is knowing exactly what type of ice cream flavor to get for you on a bad day. It is those tears cried for you when seeing your heart break. It is long talks and plenty of lattes. It is shopping trips and projects. It is noticing that new haircut or outfit. It is knowing just what to say to boost the other’s confidence when they are feeling low.

With. It’s what I’ve watched the guys do. It is the wrestling matches in the middle of – well – anywhere. It is the quirky handshakes and the awkward hugs. It is those times of getting together to shoot a few hoops or one another with paintballs. It is the competitive sparing, the robust laugh and the good natured ribbing. It is getting up early to go hang out in the woods and then staying up late to tell the stories. It is the “knowing” nod or handshake when life gets tough and the quick strong thump on the back to let the other know that they care.

With. It is what your spouse does. It is sticking by you throughout all the ups and downs of life. It is knowing how bad you look when you first wake up and kissing you good morning despite the morning breath. It is holding your hand when you need extra strength and giving you their shoulder to cry on. It is knowing your weakness and your faults but still loving you despite it all. It is the long talks, the relaxed evenings, the weekend adventures. It is those quiet and intimate moments you share. It is working along side each other and watching as your work develops into your hopes and dreams. It is companionship.

With. It is what your child needs. It is those moments of getting up in the middle of the night just so they know that you are still there and everything is okay. It is playing silly games, reading little books, and horse playing on the family room floor. It is countless hours of holding, innumerable boo-boo’s to be kissed, and ceaseless giggles to be shared. It is comfort and reassurance. It is boundaries. It is believing in them. It is helping them grow and embrace all that God has created them to be.

The significance of this word takes on a whole new meaning as I ponder the name God chose to describe Himself – Immanuel, which means, “God WITH us.” Tucked in between all powerful “God” and lowly “us” is this word that seemed before to simply speak to the location of God. Now by all standards God’s being in the same location with us is nothing short of amazing! But what is more amazing to me is understanding the fuller meaning of this name when we look at “with” as more than just another preposition.

Immanuel – God is with me. He is “Abba, Daddy,” my protector and my comforter when I have to walk through those dark moments of life – even when it is my own negligence that gets me there.

Immanuel – God is with me. He is a friend who sticks by me. He’s there to share long talks or just go for a walk. He knows just what to say through His word and nature to encourage me. He knows just what blessings to give me when I’m having a hard day. He listens. He laughs with me and cries with me. He is along for the adventure.

Immanuel – God is with me. He is my companion. He loves me through thick and thin and in spite of it all. He KNOWS – really knows all of my quirks and faults, my failings, bad attitudes, and poor decisions. He is there working along side me helping me to accomplish the hopes and dreams He instilled in my heart. He is there when the hurt is too deep to express. He is there to share the joy that sometimes can hardly be contained. He is there in those quiet moments and shares His heart.

Immanuel – God is with me. Like a parent, He is there in the middle of the night when I need reassurance that He simply IS. When I need someone to teach me the boundaries and guide me in the way that is right. He is there to surprise me with good and fun things. He is there to help me grow and become the child He created me to be.

Immanuel, God is with us. It is more than a Christmas carol or something that happened several thousand years ago. It is a way of life and it is 24/7, the whole year through. One more thought though… God is WITH us, but are we WITH God? Have we made God our lifestyle the way He has made us His? Do we take Him with us through every moment of our day or do we limit Him to our devotional time – provided we have time for one? Does God with us and we with God impact the way that we relate to our spouse when they haven’t measured up to our standards, our children when they aren’t obeying, our friends when they aren’t there for us the way we want them to be, our co-workers when they get really annoying, and those random people whose mission every morning is to make us late for work? It is a challenge to me, and I hope to you too to make a conscious choice to live each day and each moment intentionally WITH God.

Here are several verses that I have come across recently that reflect the concept of God with us and we with God – all day long!

Joshua 1:8 “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

Psalm 119:164 “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.”

D. Amstutz

Monday, January 19

Picture Perfect

Dustin's cousin, who is a photographer, has been working on a project for us. It arrived yesterday, and we were so excited we had to share it with our "Blog Family". I will working on getting it framed this week, and hope to have it hanging soon!

Thank you Selena, this was a wonderful gift!

Wednesday, January 14

Little did I know

As I was reading through my bible tonight, I came across a few scriptures I had marked, back in July. These verses were from a devotion I did shortly after receiving the diagnosis of Baby Todd's heart condition. I remember coming across Psalms 139:14 several different times. This verse stuck, because it quickly became our theme verse.
"I praise You for I am fearfully, and wonderfully made"
What a blessing and encouragement it was to know that our son was created perfect in the image of our Heavenly Father. As we prayed and committed Baby Todd to Jesus, we were determined to give God the Glory, no matter what storm we would weather.
The first time we met with the Cardiologist, we were told that Baby Todd would never be able to play soccer or work on the farm. He would not play sports at all, and would probably end up having a "desk job" or something less physical. As devistating as it was to hear that, we knew that was God telling us He had bigger plans. We knew that Baby Todd was special and that God was preparing us for something. At one point I said that Baby Todd will be the next Billy Graham. He will minister to people in ways we would never understand, and touch lives we will never know about. He will have an amazing testimony one day. Little did I know, that his testimony would be told through us.
My devotion, that day back in July, also led me to Jeremiah 1:5.
"Before I made you in your mother's womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
A peace came over me, as I read the verse tonight. I read the verse again, this time continuing through verse 8. Right then, I knew that we were exactly where God wanted us to be. Painful as it is at times, yet obedient to His call.
6. Then I said, "But Lord God, I don't know how to speak. I am only a boy."
7-8. But the Lord said to me, "Don't say, 'I am only a boy.' You must go everywhere I send you, and you must say everything I tell you to say. Don't be afraid of anyone, because I am with you to protect you," says the Lord.

Monday, January 12

Kaya and Buddy

We are asked many times throughout our days, "How are you doing? Still holding up? How are the girls?". Our reply still remains the same "As good as can be expected for the situation. I don't know how people can do this without Christ to walk with. We have an overwhelming peace." I can honestly say this is the truth. This isn't something we say just to 'get through' the conversation. There are two choices that can be made....crawl into a black hole and die in your own pity, or count your blessings God has given you and give him the Glory. The blessing may sometimes be small or even not what you expected, but they are blessings none the less for God is Good. We as Christan's need to be always looking for the blessings in our lives (even if we think we don't have any) and when we find them (I know they are there) we need to bring Praise to God in all situations.

To answer the question of the how the girls are doing, very well. As Jerri shared earlier, their faith and understanding are amazing. Kylei is a very good big sister and since the passing of Baby Brother, she has latched onto her baby doll, Kaya. She cares for her like a big sister cares for her baby sister ....changing her diaper, feeding her, and tucking her in bed at night.

Kadenn is a great big sister also and she has her puppy, Buddy. You might recognize him from earlier when the girls visited us in the hospital. Buddy was Baby Todd's stuffed animal that Kadenn bandaged up with the medical supplies they were given by the patient care provider. We gave him back to her when we explained to her about Baby Brother going to heaven. He goes everywhere with her and he still has most of his bandages. When she missed her brother, she gives Buddy big hugs and says she loves him. We love to watch our girls with their ways caring out the big sister role.

"Dear Lord, protect my childern and give them ever lasting faith throughout their journey of life, Amen"

Friday, January 9

Puzzle of Reminders

I just wanted to let let everyone know how blessed I really am. When I met Jerri, ten plus years ago, I knew she was a very special women (after all she stayed with me), But its not till you go through an experience like this that you realize who she really is. I tell you the truth, I have the most amazing wife one could ever have. She was unbelievably strong for her family (the girls and I), during the past week and a half, even though she was hurting so bad, her arms ached with emptiness. Even as I write this, she is writing thank you cards to everyone that helped and supported us in and through this time. She is reading through notes of the past couple of weeks to remember everyone who supported us, which brings back the ache of emptiness. She doesn't know that I am posting this (she probably wouldn't let me ), but I thought every one should know. I love you Babe!
Now that I turned in my man card, I want to share this puzzle with you.
This is a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle we got Kylei for Christmas. We were to put it together as a family, frame it, and hang it above Baby Brothers crib. Well, we did put it together as a family and its 12"x36" and looks great. However, it was a reminder of the crib we don't have to hang it above, so I thought what better place to hang it than on this blog for everyone to enjoy. There is not a moment that goes by during the day that we are not reminded of Baby Brother. Even when I think of how close Jerri and I have become, I think of him and thank God for him. If it wasn't for Baby Todd we never would have spent so much time together or even tried to. I praise God of he is Good!

I would like if whoever reads this to comment to Jerri. I know she would like it. Thanks!

Thursday, January 8

Wednesday, January 7

Child-like faith

Dustin & I wanted to share a few pictures with our readers. The pictures in the slide show were set as the screen-saver on our laptop while we were at DuPont. There were many times we would catch ourselves just sitting and watching the computer flip through the pictures. We were unable to have the girls with us at the Hospital, but these pictures were our constant reminder of home.

Yesterday, we celebrated Kadenn's 6th birthday. It's hard to believe that she is already 6. She has such a young, fun-loving and energetic personality. Yet, through out the last 4 weeks, she has taught Dustin & I so much.
One of my favorite things is watching children put their faith into action. The faith of child is so simple and sincere. Over the last several weeks, and this last week especially, we have been blessed with countless 'special moments' with the girls. We have had conversations that will never be forgotten, and seen them handle themselves in ways that are truly encouraging. Their faith is amazing!
I've shared the following moment with several people, but I wanted to share it again. It has been such an encouragement to us. I was talking with Kadenn about Baby Todd being at home in Heaven. Kadenn was very sad that she didn't get to meet her Baby Brother. I had nothing left to say, but I'm sorry. At that point, I felt as if I had disappointed the girls or even failed them because I was unable to bring Baby Todd home. During the conversation I said "I'm sorry", over and over again. I couldn't do anything but apologize to her. Finally, she looked up at me and said, "Mommy, you don't have to be sorry. It wasn't your fault. You did the best you could. Baby Todd was very sick, and you didn't know. He's in heaven because Jesus is the only one that knows how to take care of him".
As for our 'daily routine', we're getting there...one day at a time!

Sunday, January 4

A Routine

It has been 6 days now since this whirlwind has begun. Monday we try to start our daily routines again; get the girls on the bus, plan the work schedule for the day, etc. The reality of this day coming, breaks our hearts again, because there are a couple of routines going to be missing; waking up to a dirty diaper, putting a car seat in the truck to get groceries, etc. We cling to the words the girls wrote to baby brother "I love You. You are special." Its is the simple ways of a child that keep us grounded. In the midst of the pain, we rejoice in the testimonies of how Baby Todd touched so many people. The relationships brought back together, the closure to pain of many years, the assurance of not being alone, the list goes on. We want to thank everyone for all the support and prayers. The next days/weeks/months are going to be hard yet rewarding just like the last month. Jerri and I continue to pray for strength and give God praise for He is Good.

Friday, January 2

Daddy's Heart

Baby Brother, from the day we found out about his condition strengthened my faith and my family. His life brought me to a point, over and over again, of completely relying on God. In return God was faithful over and over again. Through it all Todd had strength that could not be described. As the Doctors once told us “He is made of something special”. I feel very blessed to be the earthly father of this little boy. As I would begin to weaken, Todd would squeeze my finger and look at me with strength that only could have come from God. Baby Todd left a legacy here on earth in three weeks, greater than I will ever imagine. I use the strength that God has given me through Baby Brother to give God the glory, praise, and honor. There will always be a spot in my heart for Baby Brother, and I know there is a spot for Jerri and I in the arms of Jesus. I thank God for answering all our prayers of complete healing. God was faithful again. We have a peace in our hearts that leave us rejoicing and following in the footsteps of Jesus.

Mommy's Memories

July 22 we were given the news of Baby Todd’s heart condition. He was later diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. The doctor explained to us that the left side of his heart was not adequately developed and with out surgery he would not survive. We were also told that with this condition Baby Todd would most likely never play soccer or be able to do work on the farm. As disappointing as it was to hear this news, I knew that this was God’s way of telling us he had bigger plans in store for us and Baby Todd.
I was blessed with many memories in my short three weeks with Baby Todd. Memories that I will forever cherish and hold close to my heart. Carrying him to the Operating Room for his very first surgery, being excited for his first “wet diaper”, tickling his feet, holding his hand and looking into his big blue eyes and encouraging him to “hang on…it wouldn’t be much longer”.
Over the last several months, and the last three weeks especially, we continually prayed that God would give us a miracle. God was truly faithful and answered our prayers, and gave us our miracle. Through the overwhelming and ever changing emotions we have experienced, we still consider ourselves blessed to have been chosen to be Baby Todd’s earthly parents.