Justin Ryker Swick

Justin Ryker Swick

Friday, December 30, 2011

I Give (It) Up

I've struggled lately more with having a heavy mind than having a heavy heart. (Other than the other night of course.)  But within in the last couple days it just seems like a lot of things have been weighing on my mind.  I can feel that the Lord is gaurding my heart, but sometimes it seems as if the devil is trying to get me to feel bad by putting thoughts in my head instead. 

One night, awhile ago, I was having a really bad night!  I had posted on facebook, "I give up".  I put that as my status more for me than anything else, I think I needed to see it written down to know not only exactly what I meant by it, but to feel the words inside as well.  I have been at "that" place, (a few years ago), where I did want to just give up, give up on struggles, give up on strife, and ultimately give up on life.  I am not there, and haven't been in a long time, thank God.  So when I wrote on my status that, "I give up" what I was wanting to admit to myself and to the world is that, "I give it up," I was at a loss as to what to do, I didn't know where to go next, how to feel, or how to even deal with what I was feeling, and I knew at that moment that I needed, more than anything, that I couldn't "deal" with it on my own, my feelings were overwhelming me and I needed to give it to God, which is what I should have done when I first started letting my head control my emotions.  I can't do this on my own, any of it, that is why God has placed amazing people in my life, that he continues to surprise me with his strength, his control, and his plans.  Even in the last week he has shown me that he truly is an all powerful, knowing God, and even when I don't know what to do or where to go, He does, and He will make it happen for me, if I just 'GIVE IT UP'!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

When It All Catches Up With You

Here I was feeling awfully proud of myself for getting through the holidays with only a few tears shed.  Christmas was great, we made it through the cemetery trip just fine, Riley sang songs to Justin and while it was still hard, we got through it...the first time with no tears.  Later that day, my mom and I went up to the cemetary again, just us, and that was a little harder.  It's easier when you are putting on a happy face for your children, but when you are the child it's not so easy. 

I was happy though that we were able to make it a joyous day none the less, and like I said I was feeling awfully proud of myself...that is until last night.  All of a sudden it was like I was punched in the stomach.  Everything I thought I had overcome, all the feelings that I thought I had dealt with came back with a vengence. It's crazy how it happens like that, when all of a sudden everything catches up with you, and a normal day takes such an odd twist for no reason, and all of a sudden you are thrown back into reality and you remember just how human you are.  And like my aunt said last night, it is such a humbling experience when you realize how childlike you really are realizing that even as an adult sometimes you just need to be held, whether it's by a family member, a friend, your husband, your mother, or even God himself who holds you up when you are feeling down. 

I am so thankful that I have family that will stay up until wee hours in the morning, just because all of a sudden I am having a hard night.  (Thank you Janie, I am sure you are cussing me right now as you are probably falling asleep at work, don't worry I'm cussing myself right now too:) ). 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas In Heaven

Christmas is my very favorite time of the year.  I love the lights, the music, the church services, and especially the faces of my children on Christmas morning.  This year is obviously going to be a little different.  Though I should be heart broken, and in a way still am, I could not think of a better way to spend Christmas than with Jesus himself.  I could wallow in self-pity that we don't get to see Justin's face on his very first Christmas, watch him try to upwrap gifts, or play with wrapping paper and boxes, but I'm not going to.  I am talking myself out of every sorrowful emotion that crosses my heart tonight.  Instead I am focusing on the fact that Christmas on Earth, could not even compare to spending it in the arms of Jesus Christ himself. 

On Christmas morning, we usually wake up to  see what Santa brought us, have a little family Christmas, eat a yummy meal, and spend the day with family.  If things were "normal" we would have Justin here with us, so we are going to make sure we involve him.  While we are still going to do everything we generally do on Christmas morning, this Christmas will also include a trip to the cememtery, which again could be a little depressing, but instead of focusing on that we are going to make it a joyous occasion, where are whole family can be together, even if it is just for a few moments. 

Sprinkles, (our magic Elf on the Shelf), is leaving us for an entire year tonight when he rides back to the North Pole with Santa to help get things ready for next Christmas; so tonight he brought the boys parting gifts, which included a little stepping stone maker where you make and design your own stepping stone.  He brought them this specifically so that they could take something to Justin on Christmas morning that could stay with him forever. 

I love that there are things we can do to encourage joyful feelings instead of heart break on days that are meant to be joyous, such as Christmas.  Again, what a beautiful sight it would be to celebrate Jesus' birthday with him!!! So, with that, Happy Birthday Jesus, and Merry Christmas Justin!!! I hope Christmas in Heaven is the most miraculous thing ever!!!

Wishing you all a VERY Merry Christmas!!!! From---The Swicks!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wow, what a year!

Four months ago, Ryan, the boys, and I decided to stay at my parents house for awhile so that we didn't have to start a "new" routine without Justin.  I remember sitting in my old room talking to my aunt on the phone about different things that had happen since Justin passed; what Riley had been telling us that week, different things people had done, and just all the craziness that week brought on.  As I was talking to her she had asked me if I had written everything down.  I told her I had written about what Riley said about the angels on facebook, calling it Justin's Angels, and if she meant I should write down everything so that when I have bad days I could go back and look through it?  She told me, "well that too, but you need to be writing all this stuff down, because I tell you what you have enough for a book!"  I thought about it over the next few days as I was trying to figure out how to tell people what had happened since I had posted Justin's Angels.  I decided that there was no way I could ever write a book, but I could write a short story and post it on facebook letting everyone know the events that had taken place.  After I posted Justin's Jesus on facebook, it seemed like every day there just seemed to be something else I wanted to put in it.  After posting it three times on facebook, it had gotten too long to post it anymore, so I told people I was done with it and if they wanted to read it I would send it to them.  Little did I know, I was NOT, by any means 'done with it'. 
The day I got the packet from the Iowa SIDS Foundation, (after I settled down and looked through the viable information provided) I had stumbled across a list of resources for bereaved parents, a list of books, dvd's, cd, etc and then it had something stated about publication companies and how to share your story....and now 4 months later Justin's Jesus is completed and in the publishing process.  I'm not even sure what to say....Wow, what a year!!!!

Publication Update
I wanted to let you all know that I submitted Justin's Jesus to Westbow Press earlier this week.  I have heard back from them the past couple of days and right now Justin's Jesus is in the content review stage of publishing, where they go through and make sure that I did not infringe on any copyright laws.  We are also in the process of designing the cover!!!! Very exciting!!!! I asked the lady yesterday what the estimated release date would be and she said 6-8 weeks!!!!!! SOOO, Justin's Jesus should available through Barnes & Noble, Borders, most christian book stores, Amazon.com, as well as the Westbow press website, by March 2012!!!! Thank you again for all of your support through all of this.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sweet is the voice of a sister in the season of sorrow. ~Benjamin Disraeli

When we were younger my little sister and I bickered all the time!!!! I remember my parents telling us that one day it wouldn't be like that, that one day we would actually get along....and may even become friends.  I did not believe that at the time.  After all, she did steal my spot of being the "baby" of the family, which I was quite comfortable in for 7 years.  Well, low and behold, parents do know somethings!  ;)  Now that we are older my little sister is one of my best friends.  Don't get me wrong, we are still sisters, which in turn means, we are are not going to agree with each other's decisions all the time, but the nice thing about being sisters is that we are not afraid to tell each other when we disagree with some of the choices we make.  I love that about having sisters, the honesty, the compassion, the protection, and the fearlessness of knowing that we will always be there for one another.  Not just when times get hard, or when times are great, but always.  I talk to my little sister daily, see her almost every month, even though money is tight and time is scarce she is always there, not only for me, but for my children as well.  She was present during the birth of each of my children, even though with Riley and Jake it was over a 5 hour drive, and with Justin it was still 3. (Jack was there too, claiming that Justin was waiting until his 'Godfather' got there to make an appearance).  It wasn't so much her support during that time, that means the most to me, but when Justin was transferred to Des Moines, it was Jill who stayed with me those 11 long, long days, and even longer nights.  She sat with me, she cried with me, laughed with me, and helped ease my mind on the the trying days.  And even though I am sure I was unbearable at times with being frustrated, scared, confused, and overly tired, she never once complained, even though she had every right to do so.  She also left as soon as she heard about Justin's passing, once again, staying after everyone had left and helped me adjust to a different life without Justin in it.  It was not so much the days right after Justin passed away that were the most difficult, don't get me wrong they were awful, they are days that I never ever want to relive again, but with all the hustle and bustle of getting things done, and all the people that surround you, (once again I am so thankful for all you), and just being in utter shock, those days seem like a blur to me.  It was the days after everything seemed to settle down and it was time to pretty much relearn "life", that were really hard.  I am not sure I would have gotten through it without her by my side.  Not only have Jill and I gotten really close, but we know each other, the good and the bad, what makes each other happy, what breaks each other's hearts.  We have a sort of empathetic connection that even though there are times we don't agree with decisions each other makes, we know each others hearts well enough to know why those decisions were made.  We feel each others pain, know each other's sorrows, and embrace each other's happiness and joy.
Jack and Jill mean so much to us and our children, once again, not because they are there for the good times, or the bad, but because they have always been there for everything, even the moments that are dull, boring, and everyday sort of life days, they are there.  That is why they were named Justin's Honorary God Parents. 

I love you both so much, thank you for all you both have done!  Jill, you are the best little sister in the world, and Jackeious....you're not too bad of a guy yourself ;) Love you!

Here are Jack and Jill's letters to Justin:

Justin Bustin,

            Hey buddy I am not completely sure what to tell you in this letter. I never thought I would have to write a letter under these circumstances, I honestly never thought I would be strong enough too. I know the only thing helping me write this letter right now is the strength God is giving me and my love for you. You have touched so many lives in the short time you were here and even now after you have gone. You have helped countless people find Christ in a way they never thought possible. You truly were an amazing little man. You always were one of the most special little boys I had ever met. The day I called your grandma Tjarks back because she had called and said it was urgent was the worst day of my life. The last thing I ever expected to hear was that my precious and perfect little Justin Bustin’ was no longer living. In that moment I thought my world was crashing. Nothing seemed right anymore I remember begging God to change it, just let me wake up and it be yesterday, please don’t make anyone in this family face this. Well those thousands of prayers I said in that short time were never completely answered. But this isn’t a letter to tell you how much I am hurt that you are no longer with us. This is a letter to tell you how much you mean to everyone you ever had contact with physically or not, especially me, and all the great memories I had with you. I remember when your mom thought she was going into labor the first time and I rushed down there as soon as I could the next day. It ended up being a false alarm, but it wasn’t long after that you were here with us. The whole time your mom was delivering you Jack and I took your big brothers to the mall to keep them, and well us, occupied. We were all so excited. Your brothers kept asking every 5 minutes if you were here yet and if they could see you or hold you and I was looking at my phone nonstop awaiting a call from your daddy or grandma. I remember not long after you were born you were sent to Blank Children’s Hospital, I rode in the ambulance with you because I just couldn’t imagine taking my eyes off of you, being too far away, and letting you make that trip alone. You would stay at Blank for 11 days and I am so honored that I got to spend most of those days there with you. I would not trade those days for the world! I also remember when your mom and dad brought you up to see everyone and the whole time you were here I didn’t want to let you go. Other people wanted turns holding you but in my eyes you were my nephew and I didn’t ever want to let go. I later had to let go in a way that I will never fully heal from. Even as I am writing this letter to you I find it hard to see the computer screen through the tears I miss you so much my precious little boy. You know I was your godmother another great honor your parents bestowed on me. And another great honor that I would not trade for anything. I miss you a little more and more everyday people say it will get easier but that is only if you push it to the back of your mind which I find hard to do since you were always one of the first things on my mind anyways. But again I am going back to how hurt I am. The last time I went up to see you, you were 12 pounds and your chubby little cheeks just made you that much more adorable and cuddly in my eyes. You were being kind of a punk the whole time I was there though. You would only smile when I wasn’t looking, I think because you knew that was one thing I wanted to see more than anything. You always had your own little personality when you weren’t happy everyone knew it and everyone always ran over to help you and see what was wrong. Even the last time I saw you I didn’t want to put you down every time you would cry I would rush over to you side and pick you up. Partially because I just saw it as an excuse to hold you and cuddle you, but also because I didn’t like to see you cry, but you will never have to do that again. You meant the world to me Justin and I cherish every moment I ever got to spend with you and every moment I get to spend with you now when you are with me. I swear I feel you with me sometimes and those are the only times that this is truly ever a little easier. I cannot wait until God grants me the chance to see you again I hope you are one of the first faces I see at the end of that bright light. Well buddy I am sure this letter is getting a little too long, I could go on for pages about how much you meant to me and still not have it all written in here. Words cannot describe how much that was or how lost I feel without you here. Without being able to call your mom and hear you whole I am on the phone or being able to drive up there and see that smiling face (that you didn’t like to show me very often)  and especially knowing I will never get to hold you in my arms again. It kills me to end this letter but I know if I keep going I’ll drown the keyboard. I love you so much my angel boy!!!! And I will miss you always!!!

Love you forever,

Aunt Peanut

      Dear Justin,
      You were a very special little guy you changed so many lives in the little time you were here. There are so many things that I want to tell you I could go on forever. I remember when I first heard the news of you. I was so excited to hear that you were going to be born. I had  never known  anyone that was having a baby. When the date was set I was just finishing welding school and was offered a job in the city one of the first things I thought of was it was going to be during the time that we were expecting you. I was in the last week of my job and I got the news they were expecting you early. I was upset because I wanted to be there when you were born. When I was on my way home I received news that you and your mother were sent back home and that they wanted to wait a while longer. I was really glad to hear this news because it meant that there was still a chance that I could make it up to see you when you were born. I made plans to come up that Friday and during that weekend you were born. I was the first person to know your size and weight it made your Aunt Peanut really mad at me because she wanted to be the very first to know. We went to the hospital to see you and you were in the nursery getting cleaned up so we couldn’t see you yet so while we were waiting for them to bring you back to the room peanut went to get coffee. While she was gone they brought you in and I was able to touch you and talk to you. I was afraid to touch you I didn’t want to get you sick or make Jill anymore mad at me. Through the next week I came down to see you in the NICU when I could. I hated that you had to be on the machines they looked so uncomfortable and like they were hurting you. I would just hope that you would do all the things they wanted you to do so you could get out of there and go home. When you finally got out of the Hospital Jill and I would come down to see you when we could. I always was excited to see you and loved to hold you and see the funny faces that you would make or when you would smile at me and frown at your aunt peanut. I’ll always think of the things I could have showed you, like batman. I wish I could do the things with you like your brothers always want to do anything from seeing the cows or spinning them around. I always wonder what you would be like today. What your personality would be how you would act or what you would even look like. I wish I could watch you grow up and be a part of your life and watch you succeed. I’ll never understand why your stay was cut so short. You made an impact on my life the first time I held you and I will always miss you. Look over your family and keep an eye on your brothers.
Love, Uncle Jack

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Worldwide Candle Lighting

Today is the day of the Worldwide Candle Lighting, I believe founded by Compassionate Friends.  Tonight from 7:00PM to 8:00PM, we light a candle in rememberance of every child, no matter what age that has passed away, we do this so that there is not only a light shining for them, but for the families that miss them as well, especially during the holiday season.  It is such a bitter-sweet thing to do.  I love that there are things like this that family and friends can do, symbolizing the light of their love that they hold for these children.  It makes the day feel special in a way.  However thinking about why we are doing it is also a sad one.  I wish that children didn't leave us so soon, so that there would not have to be a day in which we light candles for them, but then again, what sort of place would Heaven be if there were not kids in it to make it even that much more special?
 My life has changed drastically since Justin went to be with Jesus, my faith is stronger, my family is closer, and I have learned to cherish all the time I have to spend with my husband, my children, and our families.  Once again, I am so thankful for the amazing people God has put in my life, and I am learning not to dwell on the fact that Justin is not here with us, but that there is a light in our hearts that will shine for him until the day we meet again. 
Tonight I light a candle for Justin, and also for Dakota Cleland, Ben Holbrook, Dacey De Whitmire, Keeley Settles, Victoria Westfall, Ethan "Fred" Metz, Jarid Anderson, Tyler A. Bird, Marshall Barhite, Justin Kniefl, Kaleb, and Bailey.  I will be lighting one more for EVERY other child.  God Bless all you that have had a child, a nephew, a niece, a grandchild, a godchild, a sister, a brother, or even a friend, that has gone to Heaven long before you desired.  My heart goes out to all of you, and to those children.

 If you have a child you would like to write a message to compassionatefriends.org has a memory book people are able to write in tonight... the link is http://www.compassionatefriends.org/AddRemembranceEntry.aspx

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Justin's Angels

With the holidays approaching I haven't had much time to write, and for those of you who wrote letters to Justin, please don't think I have forgotten about you.  I will get the letters in the blog soon!! I wanted to take a quick minute though to share, once again, Justin's Angels, that I shared on facebook only a few days after Justin's passing.  It really is where all of this started and was the first stepping stone to finding peace and hope in such a tragic event.  I wanted to make sure to post it in the blog for those that read my blog, but do not have access to the story on facebook.

Justin's Angels

This is my story this is my song...

As most of you know we are living in my grandparent’s house. When my Great Grandma died, my grandma took it really hard and was having trouble sleeping. One night when she couldn't sleep she went into the back bedroom to lie down, as to not wake up my grandpa.   As she was crying she heard a voice and saw someone standing at the end of the bed asking her "Why are you weeping when your mother is up in heaven, and I am here with you?" Grandma has always believed in Angels and I believe she was visited by one once after that.

Riley does NOT sleep in Jacob's bed and when we would have company we would make him sleep in there with Jacob so our company could use his bed. He threw a fit every time, he did not like sleeping in Jakey's bed. We had put Riley and Jacob to bed that night in Riley's bed said our prayers, read some stories, and sang a couple songs before they fell asleep, Jesus Loves Me was one of those songs. A few hours later Ryan took Justin up to his crib to put him to bed, this was the last night we would ever be able to put Justin down to sleep. When Ryan came down he had told me that Riley was sleeping in Jacob's bed (that is also in the bedroom with Justin's crib). I thought this was odd but didn't think much of it. The day Justin went to be with Jesus we had taken the boys up to my aunts house for my cousin to watch them as everything was going on and we wanted them out of the house so they didn't have to see anything. They were gone before they put Justin in the ambulance.

Later that day after we picked the boys up and had a talk with them that we were no longer able to keep Justin with us and that he was in Heaven with Jesus, Riley started telling a story about an "alien in his closet" he then went on to talk about the ambulance that he had seen at the house (he had seen the ambulance, he was just not in the house). Riley had talked about a guy being in he closet when we first moved in (a year ago) but I have not heard of it since. When I asked Riley who the guy was he told me that the guy [with gloves] shut Justin's eyes.

I wanted to talk to Riley a little more about it, as he was not scared of this "guy" and seemed completely comfortable with it and would talk about it willingly telling me something about a little ghost and singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, to Justin before he closed his eyes.

I had told my family this story and we were wondering if Riley knew what Angels were. We do not have a single picture, statue, or anything that would lead him to know what they are, what they look like, or what they do. After Justin was gone my mom had been given a flower arrangement made by a friend with an angel figurine holding a baby, her wings were covered by the flowers. Last night I asked Riley, "Riley come here, can you tell me what this is?" and moved the flowers so you could see the whole angel. He goes, "ah! That's an ANGEL, she took Justin away!" I said "was this what was in your closet?" He said, "yes mommy, she flew up and took Justin to Jesus!".

There is no way Riley would know that Angels "fly up" or that they take babies to Jesus. It is amazing to me that the eyes of the innocent are able to see and comprehend these things. Thank you Lord for this story as it calms my soul, strengthens my faith, and puts peace in my heart.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Finding Joy

As we go through our day to day lives we complain about work, kids, finances, etc.  But what we keep forgetting to do is finding joy every day.  Not every day is a good day, some times it seems like there is too much going on in life that you won't be able to get it all done.  This makes me crabby.  I hate my house being a mess, and yes, it makes me a bear, just ask my husband.  Poor guy, generally gets the brunt of it, but there are times during the week that cleaning the house, just doesn't seem fit into the schedule.  Even as a stay at home mom, it seems my life has gotten busier than it has EVER been, keep in mind I was married with two kids finishing up my BS degree in education, while still working part time, that was cake compared to life keeping up a with a 2 and a 4 year old.

One day we went to church, shortly after a young local girl had passed away in a tragic car accident.  I believe it was mother's day.  Our pastor was talking about finding Joy in all circumstances, not "happiness", but "joy", and what it meant to be "joyful".  This sermon comes to my mind daily.  As I picture Justin in Heaven, (every day), I have mixed emotions, I am heartbroken that he is not here with us, that I don't get to snuggle him everyday, smell his hair, see his smile, or watch him grow up, and I am not "happy" that he is not here with me, I am, however, "joyful" that I know where he is, I am "joyful" that he gets to spend eternity with his maker, I am "joyful" that he never has to feel pain or heartache, I am "joyful" that I will see him again, I am "joyful" that we have a perfect little angel watching over our family. 

So when I think about how Ryan has to work 6-7 days a week, I have to keep in mind, God gave us his job, so that I can be home enjoying watching everything Riley and Jake do, even when it's naughty, that I get to teach them, and grow right along with them.  I am "joyful" that he has this job, and that I have a job that allows me to stay at home while still contributing to our monthly income.  And while my kids can, and do, drive me nuts at times...ie. when my vacuum breaks due to a million mini chocolate chips that were dumped out on my $250 rug, I am still joyful that I get this time, these stories, that I am able to tell their children.  I am joyful for everything, good or bad, because God gave all this to me, and I have nothing else in this life I need.  Thank you Lord, even for the things that I complain about most!