Justin Ryker Swick

Justin Ryker Swick

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Happy 5th Birthday, buddy! See you when I get home.


Every year it seems Justin's birthday gets a little easier, a few less tears each time. His second better than first, third better than second and so on, so I naturally thought, "I've got this" this time. As it turns out, though, five is pretty tough.

 I'm not sure if it's just pregnancy hormones, the fact that it landed on a Saturday, maybe because it snuck up on me, or possibly it could just be that five is tough.

I noticed Ryan was quieter than usual today too, so I'm guessing, five is hard all around. Generally we are able to talk freely about Justin, today I  think it was just easier to not mention his birthday or even speak his name.

  This morning when I woke up my first thought was, "We would be getting ready for a party". Today I would be blowing up balloons, setting up the table, wrapping the last minute gift, and having Ryan run to the store at least twice to get things I've forgotten. Right now we would be in a hustle and I would frantic but it would all be fun and worth it to see him blow out his candles and open his gifts. 

The 5th birthday is such a big deal in a little one's life. It's that first taste of independence, when you really feel like a big kid. This year you get to start big kid school, this year you go to kindergarten. This year we would be registering Justin for kindergarten and Hannah for preschool and life would be crazy and beautiful; but we're not. 

We aren't wrapping gifts and waiting for company to arrive, I'm not in disbelief that "my baby is starting kindergarten", we aren't rushing around to get forms filled out and appointments scheduled for registration, and that's okay, it really is. While this birthday is harder than last I cling to the promise that the Lord has plans for me, that the Lord had plans for Justin and they came to pass.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Death Strikes Twice


I heard the most heart breaking news today. A family, who just a few months ago laid their baby girl to rest due to stillbirth, (I believe), just had to say goodbye to their 2 year old as well in a very, very tragic accident.

 I cannot even begin, or want, to imagine, what this family is going through. I have prayed for them all day, and yet my prayers keep coming up short and empty handed.

I don't know how to pray for them.
I pray for peace and healing of course, and I know that God is big enough, and great enough, to supply all their needs, even emotionally; but my small human brain can't fathom peace after that much heartache. I know it will happen for them, because God IS great.

I am so glad He doesn't have a small mind like me.

As I was reading our devotional with the boys tonight it told us to dream our biggest dream and even that doesn't compare to the dream God has in store for us.  I hope this family can continue to dream and God shows off in a mighty way.

As a bereaved parent it is sometimes hard for me not to give into fear after hearing stories like this. I keep having to remind myself of three things.

One, fear does not come from the Lord. (Period) and I cannot allow it to consume me and steal my joy. When I succumb to nasty feelings, only put in my mind by the devil himself, I miss out on so much. I am not able to cherish sweet times with my kids like learning how to draw smily faces, and nighttime devotionals, songs, prayers, and giggles.

The only thing to fear is fear itself rings true. I instantly have to stop what I'm doing and pray that the Lord will take away those evil thoughts and feelings that oh so quilky sneak up without me even realizing. I refuse to live in fear, and I pray that I am, through Him, able to overcome.

Two, it's all in His hands. EVERYTHING, every life, every breath, every death. He has control of the situation even when we feel like the world is spinning out of control and we are losing everything. His plan is not only good, it is great, even if we can't comprehend HOW it can even be okay at times.

I trust Him. I trust that everything works according to His precious design for each and everyone of our lives.

Three, we belong to Him, all of us, including our children. This is such a hard concept to wrap our heads around sometimes, but our children are only ever lent to us. They were knit together, (by Him) in their mothers womb. They belong to him first and foremost and while NO ONE wants to give them back, sometimes that is the plan, as heart crushing as it is. I have peace in knowing that I will spend eternity with my Lord and Savior and with my children, may they not stray, and when I do, this life on earth will seem as short as a second, a blurp on a screen.

In the meantime, I am asking every prayer warrior out there, please, to start a prayer chain. Please raise this family up. Pray that they do not turn from Him in these tragic days, pray for peace, comfort, and healing. Let us lift this family up so far they feel Jesus carrying them.
 /http://lemmonythings.com/2014/01/05/god-will-give-you-more-than-you-can-handle-i-guarantee-it/

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Just a Jake Day


I realized today just how far we have put Jacob in the middle child shadow.  Today he made a mistake; a big mistake.  He acted out on nerves, fear, and emotion, and chose poorly.  He got in trouble, BIG trouble.  I realize tonight though, as I can't sleep how much of that really falls back on me as a parent.  Jacob gets lumped in with Riley so much that we forget he is almost 2 years younger.  He is the same height they are two of a kind...but they aren't.  They are two different kids, yet we expect him to be just as responsible as his brother, to make rational decisions that he's not even developmentally capable of making at this age.  He also requires more attention than we give him.  With having a VERY demanding little sister, Jacob's needs sometimes are (unintentionally) put on the back burner.  I forget that he's only 6, and a young 6.  He's not 7 going on 8 in a few short months, he is ONLY 6.  There are two things that came to mind today.  

The first being that I need to stop thinking of the boys as "twins" and see them as who they are individually.  I cannot expect a six year to react in the same ways an eight year old would.  Riley and Jacob are two totally different boys, don't get me wrong they are the same in a lot of ways, but there are so many things that make them their own person.  Jacob is my lovey, snuggly guy that craves attention, once again attention that we don't adequately give him.  He had every reason to make the choice he made today, even though it was a dangerous one.  I expected too much from him.  I expected him to make 8 year old choices.  I am not saying that he did not need to learn a lesson for this, or that I should not have scolded him for it.  He needed to be. He needed a quick lesson on the fact that you need to calm down before you make a choice that could end terribly; (thankfully it didn't, this time).  And I'm pretty sure he learned his lesson. 

The second thing that has me up thinking about this tonight is something Jacob said.  After we had all calmed down, I told Jacob of course that we love him, we just need him to be sure of choices before he makes....on and on...you know the whole parent, "you need to learn your lesson" bit; and Jacob asked, "Mom, can we not tell the whole family about this?"  I'm honestly not sure why it is a big deal, but I made the promise that I would not tell the "whole family".  Which is why I am not putting exactly what he did in this post.  It wasn't something crazy, just a wrong choice.  That got me thinking though, how often do I ask God that same question. 

How often do I make really stupid choices based on nerves, fear, and emotion, then come to my senses and BEG God not to let the world find out about my faults or irrational thinking?  How often do I plead that He not show the whole world that I just fell flat on my face, or ask that I don't fall flat even though my choices could very easily cause me to do just that? How often, do I really think like a 6 year old.  Too many for being 30! At the same time, what an awesome, amazing, grace-filled, merciful God I serve that so many times He has done just what I did with Jacob.  "Yes child, you messed up.  Yes there are consequences, but I will cover you with my feathers.  Learn from this, get back up, make better choices, and yes, child, I still love you!"  How many times has he brushed off my knees and not let the world see that have fallen, and I am so so thankful for that!!!  I love that he loves me even more than I love my children, and that he loves my children even more than I do, even though it seems impossible to me. 

 A little about my little guy....I really am so blessed to be this boy's mommy.  He is spunky and quick witted.  He has more facial expressions than anybody out there.  He makes us laugh every day!








  He has charm and an attitude.  He melts my heart every night when he says his prayers, sings (belts out) his praises to Jesus and lets me hear him sing "God Speed" just one more time.  He makes me proud as we walk into church and he is in his Sunday best; suit and tie, the whole nine yards, because he has dressed himself again for church.  This little boy who wants to be a cop and a rock star.  The same silly boy that still believes he has night vision; so much in fact that he has Riley praying at night that Jesus would give him night vision like Jacob.  I hope I remember to let him be little, even when there are lessons to be learned.    He really is such a pride and joy.  I just love that boy!!!

I think this week Jacob and I are going to have a Mommy-Jake day.  Just me and my precious 6 year old.  A day where he doesn't have to share my lap with Hannah, where he doesn't have to do what Riley wants him to do.  A day he doesn't have to share all his toys with Hannah and move out of a chair because it is HER CHAIR and she demands no one else sits in it.  Just a Jake day.  I so badly want to go wake him up and snuggle with him, and ask him just what he wants to do on a day just to himself.  I know how excited he is going to be!  Of course I won't, it's late, way late, and he has had a hard day, but I know tomorrow the first thing I am going to do is snuggle that sweet, yet oh so ornery, little strawberry blonde boy, and plan a very fun Jake day!  I may actually be even more excited than him!! :)  

It seems this lady must have had the same kind of day, she just says it more eloquently, than I did.  If you get a chance click on the link below.  :)
http://www.whenathome.com/did-i-love-you-enough-today/ 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

If It Makes YOU Happy...


So many times we hear or say, "Well, if that's what makes you happy", or  "As long as you're happy, that's all that matters" or even "Do what makes you happy."   Is that really all that matters? 
A time of reflection
 There are a lot of things I need to change in my life, there are a lot of things I need to let go of.  I need change, in a big way, but I think this is probably the biggest idea I need to let go of.  I don't recall, (and please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), one time in the bible where Jesus says, "It's okay, as long as YOU are happy".  I am just as guilty of this as the next person.  There are times when I give into guilty pleasures; worldly things; that I foolishly believe will make me "happy."

 I can honestly say I do not think there was one time, or one thing, that I chose just because it made me "happy" that actually made me happy.  Just the opposite, in fact, the choices I have made because they were supposed to make me happy  ultimately ended up stealing my joy eventually.  It is not about what makes me happy, or how happy I am, (or you are). 

What if instead of saying "Well, if that's what makes him/her happy." We say, "Well, if that's what makes him/her holy".  If we are following Christ and his words that's what would makes us happy, truly happy, that's where you get joy.  I'm choosing today.  I'm choosing today to change; to not give into worldly pleasures that are going to make me happy, instead I'm going to give into God and make choices that make me holy instead. 

It is then that I can stand with my head held high.  It's then that I can stand behind my words and receive his blessings wholeheartedly.  When I give into what makes me happy, I end up putting myself in the devil's path.  Showing him my weaknesses and letting him use them to drag me down, and allowing myself to drag other's down with me. For when I choose just what makes me happy, I take away from God.  I dull his light that is supposed to shine through me because I am being too self centered to allow Christ to be seen through me.  Instead of bringing people to Christ, I end up pushing them away from him.
 So, it is today, that I am choosing to change.  I will try not to make choices based on what makes me happy, rather what makes God happy.  I know that I will falter, I am not perfect, and even when I make my mind up, I still stumble; but I am making an effort.  I want to live for God not for me.  I want to be holy not happy, only then will I be truly joyful. 


1 Peter 1:15-17
15but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." 17If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;…
Romans 12:1-2
1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.…
 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Help Me, Lord


I have been trying to write this blog for a few days. I even had one almost written then deleted it because it just wasn't going where I wanted it to. I kept allowing my own thoughts and emotions get in the way of what God was wanting me to hear, and I knew it, I just couldn't seem to get over myself enough to listen to what he was wanting me to hear.  I prayed a lot, I got impatient, even angry.  A lot of times I have to write in order to get my own thoughts straight, otherwise my mind wanders and I get lost trying decipher through my own thoughts, and I end up getting no where And learning nothing. I become more impatient trying to figure things out on my own.

The other day I found a book I had bought a few years ago and never got the chance to read. It is a Max Lucado book titled A Love Worth Giving.  It was just what I needed to get over myself. My feelings of despair, rejections, failure, and disgrace.

I was still not sure how to put all of my thoughts into writing so I prayed. My prayers were still a jumbled mess and left me getting sidetracked and distracted by other things, so instead I sat down and wrote my prayer. I really believe that was the Lord, bringing me back to him.  Just me and him, keeping me focused on what exactly I was needing to talk to him about. 

In Max's book he shares a story about a 6 year old girl who received a strand of pearls from her dad who frequently went on long business trips, they were fake of course, but none the less she adored these pearls.  Her dad came home  after a week in the Orient and as he tucked her into bed he asked her if she loved him more than anything, to which she obviously replied that she did.  He goes on to ask her if she loves him more than her pearls, and if so to give them to him.  The little girl does not want to let her pearls go, and tells him so.  He tells her that he understands and the little girl goes to bed.  The next night, however, she brings the strand of pearls to her daddy and tells him that he can have them, because she loves him more than the pearls.  After she has given him the strand of imitation pearls, he pulls out a box of beautiful genuine pearls for her. 

The point of this story is to make ourselves question what we are holding on to and not giving to God.  What imitation are we settling for because we are too "attached" to let it go.  What blessings, genuine blessings, are we missing because we are not allowing God to give them to us. 

This got me thinking....all night.  I know that there are things I need to do differently, ideas in my head that I need to let go of.  I have been struggling with where I expected my life to be 30.  It does not bother me to turn thirty next month; not in the way that you would think.  What bother's me about this birthday is what is going on in my life right now.  I foolishly expected my life to be like that in the movies, or even the life that some of my thirty year old friends have.  You know the one.  The family friendly house, with a picket fence, a dog in the yard, jobs we love, in a nice little friendly Mayberry town.  Okay, even I didn't have that high of expectations, but I did expect stability in life by now.  I did not expect to be moving every two years, or renting (ugh), or not knowing where we are going to be in month, what the house will even look like, if we have to get rid of the family pets because the landlord doesn't allow them.  I wasn't expecting this. Jealousy started rearing it's ugly head. I see my friends in lives that I thought I would have and we are just not there yet, do you hear the pity party I was in again?  Max explains how jealousy is like a spark in a house.  If something sparks in your house, what do you do?  You immediately put it out, make sure that there is no way it could start a fire, because if it does it could destroy your entire house.  That's what happens when you allow jealousy in your heart even for a moment, without stomping it out.  It festers, it consumes you, it consumes your thoughts, and steals your joy.  Jealousy is awful. 

This book is based on 1 Corinthians 13.  Love is patient, love is kind....  As I read it I realized how far I had allowed myself to go and how much I needed his help to bring me back to him.  There are so many aspects in my life I need to improve on and I cannot do that without letting go and letting God.  I know he is using this as a lesson for a blessin'. 


Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your love, your power, and your forgiveness.  I know I can stand on your promises of hope and a future. Thank you for your blessings, abilities, and talents.

Help me to see others, and myself, through your eyes.  Help me to forgive as you forgive me everyday, for everyday I fall short of your glory.  Please give me wisdom and understanding of your word, that I may use my life to glorify you. show me what you want me to give up so that I may live my life to glorify you and the  attitude to let them go.  Help me to imitate your ways, not the ways of the world.
I was made by you, in your image, not my own.
Lord, be with me. Always guiding me with your light to illuminate those areas in my life, to get out of the darkness of my own shadow and into the light of your mercy and grace. 
Help me to see pass my faults and failures, as you do, so that I will no longer be imprisoned by them. Break the chains of resentment and rejection that I allow to bind me. 



In Jesus' Name,

Amen.



Saturday, May 23, 2015

Lord, be with her


I am not one to watch the news regularly, but there are some things you just can't miss.  With that being said, the news lately seems to be hitting pretty close to home, considering I spent a lot of my childhood living near Omaha.  Here is what has been going on lately:

A baby found in a dumpster, still alive thankfully.  His 5 year old brother, taken on his fifth birthday, thrown over a bridge, left to die; and their mother found dead.  Terrible!!! All of it!

Then you have the Omaha police officer who was shot and killed just hours before she went on maternity leave.  Again how heart breaking.

AND AGAIN....3 babies dead in 4 days in Des Moines; co sleeping is the "cause".  I WILL have a post about this, very, very soon!!! This was not coincidence, this was NOT a matter or co sleeping and that Iowa Medical Examiner, Mr. Dennis Klein himself, needs to be in the spotlight for blaming parents.  He is evil at it's worst.  Sorry, a little worked up on that subject but that is for another day; maybe when I calm down a little; or get more worked up, we'll just have to see.  :)


But the saddest news story I have seen is a young mother, just 24 years old who was found at 6:55 in the morning pushing her dead child on a swing in a public park.  It is reported that this mother may have been pushing this precious boy all night!  ALL NIGHT?! Can you imagine?  We took the kids to the park yesterday, just before I read this news article.  One of my children's favorite past time is swinging.  All of them love to swing!  I'll be honest though, when Riley and Jacob learned to pump by themselves, it was a glorious day!!! haha.  I do not like pushing the swings all the time and doing countless number of underdogs.  After about 10 minutes of pushing Hannah on the swing I try to either give the job to one of the boys, or direct her to a different park activity.  Pushing swings is not all that exciting. So, can you imagine doing it for HOURS on end.  I don't think this momma necessarily pushed her child non stop for hours.  I do not know this mother, I don't know her heart, her emotions, her day to day activity.  I don't know anything about this woman, but my heart breaks for her!!!!!! My entire being aches for her.  Who knows what possibly could have happened that day; no one knows how the little guy passed away, what the causes were, but there wasn't anything evident that would point to foul play.  Here is how I see this mother. Here are all the "maybe's" that go through my mind when I think of this girl.

Read the story here:
http://fox59.com/2015/05/23/maryland-woman-found-pushing-her-dead-child-in-a-swing/y


Maybe:

Maybe the little boy was sick and she knew he was going to be gone soon so she took him to his favorite park to do his favorite activity; swinging.

Maybe the little one did pass away before she took him to the park and she couldn't bear to let him go with out taking him to their favorite place. 

Maybe she was homeless, and couldn't afford to feed or take care of her pride and joy, but she could give him happiness with one last park trip.

And who knows, she may have a dark background, maybe drug abuse, maybe not.  Either way her background doesn't matter, one thing is clear; this mom LOVED her baby. 

Here is what I think about this awful night for this momma.

I'm sure she didn't push non stop for 12 hours straight.  I bet at sometime she took a few minutes to snuggle her little guy, just one last time.  She knew, she had to let go, and soon.  Soon she would have to fully admit that little boy was no longer with her, but just not yet.  I'm sure she screamed.  Maybe she was pleading and begging God, "Please, God, I promise I'll take him to the park more, I know how much he loves to swing. If you just give my baby back to me, I'll take him to the park everyday. I will push him on the swings everyday.  I can show you now, I will push him, I will play with him more.  I will be there for him more.  I will have fun with him more.  I will give myself for him, Lord, please if you just give my baby back to me." 

I'm sure she cried.  And cried.  And cried.  She may have even wished that if God was going to take her baby, that He would choose that time to take her too; and as she cried I'm sure she screamed that to the heavens as well.

Like I said, I don't know.  I don't this woman, but my heart has never broken for another woman as it does for her.  I pray for her.  I pray for healing and peace.  I pray for a future, and I pray that she knows the Lord and Savior.  Whoever you are, my heart is breaking with yours and I am praying for you and your sweet little one. I'm sure your little one is swinging on a beautiful playground in heaven.  Lord, be with her. 

 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rainbow Baby


See I told you I was back!  ;) If you are my Facebook friend you know ALL about our rainbow baby, but may not know what "Rainbow baby" means; and if you are not my Facebook friend, but follow my blog, than chances are you don't know much about our Hannah Grace, but you know what it means to have/want a rainbow baby.  For those of you who don't know, there are three different "types" of babies after a death of a child.  You may have what they call a sunshine baby/child, maybe even more than one.  For us we had two sunshine children when Justin was called home.  A sunshine baby/child is "a baby conceived before a family is struck by loss. A baby conceived before devastation has held a place in a family's heart and their symbol of love, before they knew anything about shattered dreams." These children give you a reason to get up in the morning after tragedy, these children are your sunshine everyday, the only ones who can make you laugh when you didn't know you were even able to anymore.  They are special children for sure, and I am so blessed to have had Riley and Jacob to help me through after Justin passed away. 

Then you have your angel baby, I'm sure we all know what this is.  This is that very special little baby that did their work on earth, (or in the womb) so quickly that God had special plans for them in heaven and called them home; leaving everyone who loved them with a whole in their hearts that will only be filled once you get to heaven.  These babies teach you something, they make you grow, they change you.  These are forever babies.  It's hard to imagine them growing up in heaven when you can't witness it for yourself.  These babies are special and God knew that too.  I can't even begin to imagine the joy they brought to the angels when they flew them up to heaven on their wings. 

And finally you have what we call a rainbow baby.    a rainbow baby is a baby that comes after the storm of having another one of your children being called home. A rainbow baby  "is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope." 

Our family was blessed with a rainbow baby, we named her Hannah Grace.  I know that I have written blogs about her before, around the time of her birth.  Our little rainbow baby isn't so much a baby anymore.  She is a 2 year old spunky red head.  God really broke the mold with her and she is the epitome of a rainbow.  That girl brings so much color into our lives, and even just looking at her she is full of color, spirit, and hope.  I watched as she walked with her brothers down the driveway a ways today and thought, "boy, that girl just radiates color!"  With her bright red hair, that seems to glow red hot in the sunlight, and her pretty big blue eyes, she is just a world of color in her tiny little self. 

Her personality is anything but dull as well and she gives us a run for our money everyday!!! I'll be honest she is a spitfire and most of the time outwits both Ryan and I.  She knows how to work my phone better than I do, she already seems to have an attitude of her mother (times 10) and can whip her brothers into shape with just a look, (sometimes she throws a nice high pitched scream in there for fun).  This girl is amazing!! She is a spice and she is sugar, she is crazy and calm.  She is everything.  I am so very, very blessed to be her momma, and I am so very, very, thankful for my hot tempered little redhead that is a ray of sunshine, an angel, and rainbow, all mixed with a little bit of spunk, sass, and down right attitude.




How do I know she is a gift from Jesus himself?  At just a year old, when she could say very few words we happened to walk by the Prince of Peace picture I have hanging in our hallway.  As we walked by she pointed right at that picture and said, "Jesus" with a big smile and leaned in to give the picture a kiss that was just at the right height to do it, since I was holding her.  I was stunned, and had to ask her again to make sure I heard her clearly.  Yep, that is what she said, and to this day, a year later she still stops at the picture points to Jesus with a smile and says His name, and He knows hers. If you have a little one of your own, try it.  Show them the Prince of Peace picture, see if they know who he is; it may just surprise you.  :)    You will hear a lot more of our Hannah Grace, our very own rainbow. 

For those of you still hoping, dreaming, and praying for you rainbow baby; keep the faith, keep praying, keep hoping, and I will pray for you too.  God knows your name just as He knows Hannah's He knows the desires of your heart.  God Bless you sweet momma's out there may God bless you with your own rainbow baby. 


Here is our little rainbow, just tonight.  She was all tuckered out, keeping those older brothers in line is hard work!!!