Justin Ryker Swick

Justin Ryker Swick

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Photograph from Heaven

On October 25, the night before my oldest son, Riley's, 4th birthday I sat there thinking.  This was the first birthday we would be celebrating since Justin passed away.  It got me thinking about Justin's birthday, how his first birthday would have been, what we would have done for it, who all would join in the celebration, and what he would look like.  I have a frame on my wall that has a picture of Riley eating birthday cake on his first birthday and underneath that is a picture of Jacob eating at his first birthday eating his cake.  There is one more slot that is filled with our very first "family" picture.  I look at it often, I'm not sure why, but I remember thinking that we would put Justin's first birthday picture there, especially since our first family picture only includes one of our children, (I have recently decided to just put a picture of all three boys in there).  But I thought how cute it would be to have a picture of each child eating their first birthday cake, all in the same frame.  Now we would not get the chance to have that picture of Justin.  A thought then crossed my mind. I wish God would send photographs from Heaven, just like we send pictures to family that lives far away, I wish we could receive them from Heaven.  I think that would be "fair". I wondered what Justin looked like now at 5 1/2 months, what he would look like on his first birthday, 5th birthday, middle school, high school... I really wasn't upset about it, I was just wondering and thinking how I thought photographs from Heaven would be an awesome thing!
We found this great idea on Pinterest, where you fill up a bunch of helium balloons and on the morning of your child's birthday you put them in his room while he is still sleeping so that he wakes up to a room full of balloons. So the morning of Riley's birthday a took about 30 filled balloons up to his room while it was still pretty dark out and took some pictures of the room before the boys woke up and then took some more after. I got a new camera and it is a little advanced for me right now, but I took about 50 pictures.
I sat at the computer later to try to go through the pictures because a lot of them were the same.  Out of all the pictures there was just one that stood out quite a bit.  It had a huge "glare" in the middle of it and it looked like his room was filled with fog or smokey stuff.  I clicked on the thumbnail of the picture to make it bigger and at first it looked like Jacob was standing by the bed, once I realized it though, I remembered that there was no way he could have been it was one of the pictures that I took while it was still dark and both boys were sleeping in Riley's bed.  It looked like a little boy sitting in the toy box, when I showed my friend she said, "mary, don't freak out....but it kinda looks like Justin, he just wanted to celebrate Riley's birthday with him!"

  There are a lot of crazy things about that picture, and I do believe there is something special about it.  I don't believe in "ghosts" or "haunted" houses, I do believe in angels and demons, it talks about them in the bible, and with all that went on shortly before and after Justin's passing I have no doubts about that, but whether or not it was the camera freaking out or something else, I will always cherish it as my photograph from Heaven.

To see the actual photo (large) and variations of it (with the brightness removed) and a photo of what the room actually looked like, Go to www.justinsjesus.com and click the tab Photo From Heaven. :)

Iowa SIDS Foundation

I didn't realize until I was posting my last blog about publishing that I hadn't posted since I went off on my tangent about the Iowa SIDS Foundation.  I need to tell you that I talked to the lady who is in charge of sending out materials to families, DHS, hospitals, etc.  She was so sweet!! She explained to me that there are different materials that go out to different sources.  There is a packet for grieving parents, one solely on prevention given to hospitals, and another for DHS and other services.  They try to make sure that the one for grieving parents doesn't deal with the "reducing the risks" side of SIDS, however when she looked back it is in their main pamphlet that has a lot to do with "prevention", sadly this was the first thing I grabbed, (and the last until I cooled down).  She and the board had not realized that about the main pamphlet and she was taking it to them right away to discuss making a specific pamphlet for grieving parents that does NOT involve reducing the risks.  She was very sincere and apologetic.  I have to give thanks to the Iowa SIDS Foundation for the rest of the materials provided.  It is because of some of the resources sent that we were able to get the ball rolling on the publication of Justin's Jesus.  The director is also assisting with getting everything arranged for the "Walk" Stolzman Photography will be putting on near Justin's first birthday.  So all in all, the Iowa SIDS Foundation has been a blessing and I am so glad that because I did get a little heated :)  that they are looking into changing that part of their packet so other parents don't have to deal with that on top of everything else.  Crazy how things work :) That something I was so upset about turned out to be again one of the biggest steps in getting to publication, what a blessing! Thank you Iowa SIDS Foundation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


"The Lord gave some a Word; great was the company of those that published it." -Psalm 68:11

I wanted to first thank all of you for your prayers, we couldn't have done ANYTHING without them.  We have been praying and prayingthat God would make it clear to us which publishing company to go with to get Justin's Jesus out to the public.  We have decided to go with West Bow Publishing.  West Bow is a Christian based publishing company that is associated with Thomas Nelson Publishing, (the company that published Heaven Is For Real).  We have started the first steps in the publishing process today and the book could be completed as early as Christmas, however, we aren't in any hurry to get it done within 2011.  It will for sure be out by May 14, 2012 which would have been Justin's first birthday. 

And speaking of Justin's birthday, it is probably the one day I am dreading.  Thank God for wonderful friends he has so strategically placed in our lives.  My employer has decided to do a "walk" for SIDS afround Justin's first birthday, so we will be able to make the day a celebration, rather than a heartache.  I will keep you posted more on the walk as time goes and things fall into place a little bit more, and be sure to look for updates on the publishing process of Justin's Jesus.

It is amazing to me how much God blesses you through some of the hardest trials and times in your life! He reminds me everyday of his promises and his love, what a GREAT God we have!
Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. I am sooooo thankful for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us, especially during this difficult time and also for the comfort he has provided us with Justin's story as well as those who will be comforted by it in the future.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

SIDS Prevention

Most of you who are reading this have already read my tangent on Facebook about the information and "resources" I received from the Iowa SIDS foundation.  If you haven't here it is. I received a pamphlet of information from them and in it was a lot of "information" on how they believe you can "prevent" SIDS.  While I know that it is fully researched, I also know that there is no found "cause" of SIDS, there for it is hard to have a definite way of "preventing" it, and I do not believe that after a person has dealt with the passing of their child due to SIDS is the time to stuff them full of information on how to "prevent" it.  Here is my e-mail to them:

Hello, I would like to start by thanking you for your condolences and the book you sent us regarding grieving the passing of a child who died of SIDS. While we appreciate the resources I was very deeply hurt and saddened that, while you meant well, that you would throw in so many things about SIDS prevention. Prevention IS definitely important and I understand that, but I believe that there is a TIME and a PLACE for it! After the passing of a child due to SIDS is NOT the time to be sending it to parents! What that does is ultimately places blame on the parentsb that they should have done something different. When the fact is, there is nothing that prevents SIDS, while the prevention is a great tool for parents and I do believe the precautions should be followed, that is NOT the way to go about it. Why not talk to parents who still have children LIVING instead of the ones who have already lost their child. You don't think that a parent of a child who died of SIDS would take every precaution the next time(if there is a next time) they had a child to prevent it from happening again?! Believe me they will! They will do their own research, the doctors will talk to them, and it is not up to you to ever make a parent, a family member, a childcare provider, or anyone else who may have been around during that time, feel like it was their fault! The truth of the matter is Jesus is in control, our days are numbered, and our children are in Heaven waiting for us. That is part of the grieving process, taking into account what death is, where my child is, and accepting the REAL facts! It is not part of a grieving process, however, to be told what I could have, or should have done that YOU feel MAY or MAY NOT have prevented my child going to Heaven. The TRUTH is there is no prevention, there is NO proven cause. Thank you again for your condolences and I am sorry this e-mail is so rude I don't mean it to be I am not by any means a hateful person and I do appreciate the other materials sent with your packet, however the prevention part was NOT one of them that I appreciated. Thank you so much.

Here are my feelings on SIDS "prevention".  I don't believe there is an actual way to prevent SIDS.  As stated before Jesus knows our number of days that we will be on this earth before we are ever a thought in our parents minds.  Justin's number of days was only 89. I don't believe that had we done ANYTHING different that night that Jesus would have changed his number of days.  Justin's life had a purpose just as his death has. His life's purpose was obviously fulfilled and it was time for him to go "home". 

I wonder has there NEVER been a baby who died of SIDS who was put to sleep on his back, without a blanket, in a 72 degree room, with no bumper pads, an approved mattress, who was sleeping by himself, and didn't have a stuffed animal in his crib?  Justin was in his crib, with an approved mattress, by himself, in a comfortable room with no stuffed animals, he was on his tummy, (but he knew how to roll over) he didn't have a fluffy blanket, however he did have his blanket.  Because there are no answers to SIDS we try to come up with a plethora of ways that we could "prevent" it from happening.  Next thing you know it will be caused by what time they ate, how much they ate, if they were sleeping upstairs or down, if their hair is dark or light...the truth of the matter is it is not preventable, there is no cause.  I am not saying that the SIDS foundation is wrong, I am just simply saying that know one really knows.  I am not saying tha tit is wrong to put your child to sleep the way they say, maybe that is best, but only God knows when our time to go home is and if it is our time, it's our time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day By Day

Earlier I had said that I wasn't sure where to go next in the blog, today that's kind of how I feel about life.  I thought that this blog would be a way to add on to the story Justin's Jesus later, but I'm just not sure that's where I'm supposed to be going with this blog.  Maybe it's supposed to be a way to share my feeling on Justin's passing, or maybe it's to help others with feelings similar to mine, either way, this post is not going to be in chronological order of Justin's story but I have been praying about what to write and I think it's more about life and feelings than just trying to ge a story down. 

Most days, I am in complete acceptance of Justin's passing.  I can generally take it for what it is, which is knowing that God had Justin's days numbered before we even knew there would be a Justin to miss, just as he has all of our days numbered as well.  We were beyond blessed to have Justin in our lives, even for a short time, and I am so extremely thankful for those days.  I am grateful to be able to hold him, love him, feel his soft hair, and get to see and capture his little smile.  Justin will live in our hearts forever, just as he is living in light with Jesus forever.   Other days, however, are tough.  I try not to get bitter or angry and for the most part I do pretty well with it, sometimes though it is hard to not dwell on what I feel I am missing out on.  Sometimes it's hard to remember that my perspective is wrong but God's perspective never is.  Today I question where to go from here.  Now that I don't have a lot to write in Justin's Jesus, and most of the craziness of his passing is over, and we are settling into a different life without Justin, it's now that it gets hard. 
We have gone through all of his clothes, keeping what he's worn in a box to keep and all the clothes he "was" going to wear in other boxes and in storage.  I kept out his blankets, his binkie, and a few other things that I want to keep with me daily.  I refuse to take down the crib.  I know it's probably a sign that I have not accepted his death, and that's not it.  I know he's gone, I know he's with Jesus, and at times I can even be joyful that my baby is in the presence of the lord and I am at peace with that, even on the hard days.  My feelings about the crib are just that it is something that doesn't have to be done right now.  It's not taking up any needed space, it's the last place Justin slept soundly, and it's where Jesus came to him.  Eventually I will take it down I'm sure, just not yet.

As far as where I go from here, I'm not sure yet. Today it's one day at a time, and I am thankful I have gotten that far.  Right after Justin died we were living minute to minute, hour to hour, at least now we have gotten to day by day.

My Family

I'm not quite sure where to go from here, so I will start by telling you a little about the people closest to me.  My family is amazing, we pull together through hard times and always have each other's backs, even if sometimes we don't always get along. :)  My mom got pregnant young, got married  in high school (to Marty), and had a miscarriage.  She got pregnant shortly afterwards and had my sister Kandi and later my sister Heather.  My family is a little confusing when trying to explain all the twists and turns in our family tree, but that is what makes my family so special.  To us there is no half-sister, full-sister, or step-family, to us we are all "family" no matter where the blood lines branch.  My dad got married young as well and both marriages ended in divorce after their own trials and my mom and dad got married had me and my little sister, Jill.  That marriage, also ended in divorce and my mom and Marty (her first husband) were able to rekindle a relationship that had once been broken, but thankfully not shattered completely.  Marty is an amazing guy, a great father, devoted husband, and a wonderful grandpa.  He took me and my little sister in as his own daughters and we are so grateful for him and for all of our family.  My grandparents are one of the biggest inspirations in my life.  They have been together for 56 years and the love and support they provide their family is remarkable.  What a blessing to have them in our lives. I have amazing Aunts who are always there and at times have had to drop everything to be by our sides when we needed them most.  I could not ask for a better family, every single one of them, in their own ways has helped me become who I am today and I am so thankful for them.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Where are you from?

"Where are you from?"  This is a question that for a lot of people is really easy to answer.  My husband for instance can answer this question without skipping a beat.  He lived in the same area during his whole childhood.  He went to the same school K-12th grade and when he went to college he was only 35 miles from home, so when he gets asked this question it is simple for him to say, "I am from Northeast Nebraska" or "I went to school in Newcastle." For me on the other hand, this has always been a question I have dreaded answering.  Between Kindergarten and 12th grade, I had moved 14 times and attended 11 different schools, all over Iowa and in Florida.  I am not an Army brat, my parents just moved a lot. :)  I am not complaining, however, it is things such as these that has shaped me into the person I am today, some good and some bad.  In fourth grade my parents separated then got back together, same with fifth, and in sixth I spent in entire year at one school.  Then in Seventh grade they decided to get divorced.  I moved down to Florida with my mom and my soon-to-be stepdad and my sisters.  This was a HUGE adjustment for me! Things are already hard for 12 year old girl, but when you add a whole new life to the mix, a new family, a new school, new friends, and living in a completely different area, it tends to take it's toll.  I moved back in with my dad half way through my Seventh grade year, after already being in two different schools in Florida once my mom and step-dad bought a house that was in a different school district than we had lived in when we first moved down.  The next few years were really hard for me, and I made it REALLY hard on the people around me.  I resented my mom for moving, for throwing me into this new life, and most of all for not understanding how I was feeling.  It took a long time for our relationship to get back to "good" after that year.    I moved back down to Florida right after school at the end of my Sophomore year.  I ended up graduating from a school in Florida, and then going back up to Nebraska for college.  So...where am I from??? A little bit of every where! :)  But as of right now, God has brought us to a sweet little town in north central Iowa.  We are purchasing a house that my grandparents lived in for 44 years, in Alden, Iowa

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Justin's Jesus

For those of you who don't know me or know my situation, about 2 months ago we lost our little boy Justin Ryker, just shy of 3 months old to SIDS.  This is our story that has unfolded before us in just the past couple months.  This blog is dedicated to anyone and everyone that has experienced the feelings of having a child be called to Heaven so soon in life, also to all of our amazing friends and family that have pulled together to help us through such a difficult time in our lives.  I have found peace and hope in KNOWING that our son is in fact in the arms or Jesus and that I was blessed to have him for the short time I did, as God's timing and mine are not always synchronized.  There are so many people that have read my posts and stories on Facebook that I thought I would start a blog as Justin's story has gotten too long to post anymore.  Eventually we will make a book out of Justin's story in hopes that it will help other familes going through trying times.  We fully believe that God has a purpose and a plan for everyone of us and this is our story to share with you. I will add a little more to Justin's Jesus as I write my blog, but I feel I need to start our story out a little sooner in our lives than where I started in Justin's Jesus.