Justin Ryker Swick

Justin Ryker Swick

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sioux City Bound!!!!

We are getting ready to head out the door for our second book signing!!!  I don't have time to write a full blog, although I want to let you know, that I am having a better day than I was when I wrote my last blog.  Some times there are bad  days, some times there are good days. 

Thankfully the bad days don't come nearly as often as they used to; and even though  I wrote that I feel I have no where  to turn.  I  really always know the one I can turn to, the one I should turn to, and the only one who really can heal the broken hearted.  Once I spent some time at the feet of Jesus, and in His word, I realized that all I really need to do, is let Him; let Him heal me, carry me, and get me through my bad days. However sometimes that is easier said than done, (you know with being human and all).  :)  I like to do things my own way, until I realize I can't do it my own way... hopefully someday I will learn. 

Anyways, back to the signing!!  Tomorrow, Saturday March 31st at the Family Christian Store, (it is in the same strip-mall as Kohls, Michaels, and Gordmans, so you can do a little shopping too!!) We will be there from Noon-2PM.  I hope to see you there!!! Thank you all so much for your support!! We would never be here if it went for your encouraging words and prayers. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

God will make it okay

Sometimes I feel as if I have no one to turn to.  Don't get me wrong, I have an amazing support system, wonderful friends, an awesome family, and an amazing husband; but at the same time they are all going through the same things I am.  Ryan and I talk about "it" every so often, but when we get too deep into Justin, his life and his passing, it becomes too hard for both of us; what ultimately happens is that we each have our own pain, and when we start to talk about it, we start to feel each other's pains also, then what we do is take on each others' pain, and it becomes too much for each of us to bear.  Sometimes I just don't know where to turn.

Like I said, I do have a great family and an awesome support system, but at the same time you can hide that pain from....well everyone...if you are good at it.  Everyone says they are they for you, and they are!  They really are!  If I were just to call someone up and say,"today I'm really hurting", they would talk me through it without skipping a beat...but how do you do that?  How do you show that pain, that kind of  vulnerabilty? 

 Some people are really good at just asking for it; I am not one of those people.  I don't know how to do that, I don't know how to ask for help in that way; when people see me; especially after reading Justin's Jesus, they think, "wow she has awesome faith and is handling it so well" and I do and I am.  I hold tight to my faith, Jesus has pulled me out of the water many times, and carried me through the hardest times of my life...but what about the rest?  What happens when I am not so strong, when I am not "handling it well", or I am really hurting, but don't talk about it...what then?  Sometimes, I will be honest, I just don't know. 

I usually find my answer while writing my blog, and by the end of it I have the answer, or at least feel a little more at peace.  I'm sorry I can't end it this way, sometimes, even people with the strongest of faith, are just at a loss. I know that I will be okay.  I know that tomorrow is a new day, and the warm breeze that feels like May, will just feel like an extra warm breeze blowing in March, God will make it okay.

Baby Steps

Springtime is here!  It is beautiful outside and the weather we are having is more like May-time weather rather than March weather.  While I think I would love  the fact that it  is warmer sooner if it had happened any other year; this year I am especially grateful for an early spring.  I didn't realize how the little things, like weather change, smells, and just the changing of seasons in general would affect me. 

I was starting to get the whole cabin-fever feeling towards the end of "winter;" even though we had a mild winter; it was still winter.  I was ready to be able to get out of the house, to see a little sunshine, green grass, and leaves on the trees.  I probably get like that every year and just don't realize it, however this year it hit me hard.  Once the weather started getting nice, and we were getting the smell of spring in the air, and warm breezes, it felt like May...which in turn brought me back to May.  It is a bitter-sweet thing, while May-August will always be the best time in our lives, the only time we had our family all physically together, it is also such a sorrowful time as well.

So while I was so excited that the weather was beautiful, I walked outside on one of the first really nice days this spring and was taken back.  I didn't even think about how hard it would be, all I thought was, "wow it is a beautiful day, lets go outside and play!!" It wasn't like that at all, and for the first time, ever in my life, I found myself wishing it was still winter. 

I was so excited for spring, and I still am, I LOVE spring and summer, it is my all time favorite time of the year.  I love flipflops and t-shirts, and not having to get bundled up to go outside. I love the smell of the flowers, the grass, and just the air in general. I love the feeling of the perfect day when the weather is just right and the breeze makes it that much more wonderful, I just love it. 

Unfortunately, though, this year I had to relearn that love, that appreciation, for the changing of the seasons.  I wish I could just walk outside and love being there; watching the boys play, seeing the beautiful magnolia trees in bloom, and enjoy these more than beautiful days, because they are so beautiful, but right now that it is so hard for me to do.    

I don't want to be back in May.  I don't want it to be a year, I don't want to celebrate Justin's birthday without him, and if May is just around the corner...then August is too, and I definitely don't want to be back there. 

So while this spring is hard, and things that I never expected to knock me on my booty, did; I am glad that God is giving it to me in stride.  I am thankful that I don't have to deal with the changing of the seasons and May all at the same time this year.  Right now I can handle this part of the road...May when it comes, and ultimately that dreadful August month.  We will get through it.  Thank you Lord, for the early spring and for giving me baby steps to take right now. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Just LISTEN!!!

I just seem to be struggling with a lot right now.  And the funny thing is, I am the happiest now than I have ever been since Justin passed away.  Life kinda "makes sense" it's a new journey a new "stepping stone", my life has completely changed directions and I am happier now than ever.  All of a sudden I get to focus on my kids, my house, and Justin's legacy, life really is WONDERFUL!! But yet I am still struggling?? It just doesn't make sense...then again, life never does.  When life is great, it could be better, and when life is bad, it couldn't be worse, right?  We are just never just content! At least I'm not!

What I am struggling with lately is confidence...I know, I know some of you might laugh at this!  Here is this woman who writes EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING she feels in her blogs, and I do, and I am so glad that I am able to do that.  Sometimes I make people happy, sometimes it gives them peace, sometimes joy, happiness, or even just a laugh, and then sometimes...it makes them angry.  I am proud of being someone who can stand up for things; but with that being said, I realized this week just how insecure I really am.  What a horrible thing to be also, strong-willed and insecure???...they just don't seem to go together!

 I am always so worried about what other's think about me, ALWAYS; even though I know and feel in my heart what needs to be said, or who I am, or what I am doing is right, or okay, I still just let the devil get in my head in such a way that it is so easy for him to bring me down. 

There have been things going on lately, that I know if I would have just listened to Him in the first place, He wouldn't have had to lay down the law later.  I could have saved a very cherished friendship, if I would have just taken his "advice" and done what He told me I needed to do a couple of months ago. He gave me plenty of opportune times to do it; yet I didn't listen, so instead He had to take drastic measures.  I learned from them, I learned to listen, to spend my days at the "feet of Jesus, the true teacher" (thank you pastor T.J. for those words).  But I am so unwilling sometimes to trust what He is telling me to do. 

If I had, things would be different, but I didn't; the outcome was still the same, but with more complications.  Why do I not just listen in the first place?? I don't know, I still don't know, I still struggle with listening to Him, trusting Him, I know His plan is far better than my own, but I still question it!  That is ridiculous.  I need to work on that, to save friendships, relationships, and hurtful words, because ultimately when I don't listen to Him, that is what happens, whether it's my words or someone elses, either way they hurt, and cause broken relationships. 

I have had some great opportunites come my way in just the past couple of days, but I am scared, fearful, to take that next step, because I am always worried about what people will think, what if I don't live up to their expections, or what if I fail???

  I guess the question is who am I really "failing"?? If I listen to the Lord, I am not failing....the time now is to listen...then I will not struggle, like the devil so desperately wants me to do.  I'm giving that up tonight.  No longer will I struggle with not being confident enough.  Sometimes I will not always meet other's expectations, sometimes I won't even meet my own.  It's okay.  I  don't need to struggle anymore all I really need to do is LISTEN!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Stepping Stones

We are getting ready for our first book signing!!!!! Tomorrow I will be joining three other authors at the Stepping Stones Christian Bookstore in Marshalltown, Iowa from 11AM-1PM, and then in Grinnell at the Stepping Stones Christian Bookstore there from 3PM-5PM, if you are in the area we would LOVE to see you, even if you just want to stop in and say, "Hi".

While I am very excited, I am (really) nervous as well, so many things to think about; what to wear, how to do my hair, how early to be, what to write in the books, what to say... All of this running through my head, even though, I know it really doesn't matter how I do my hair... :) 

There have been so many things that have drastically changed in our lives in the past year, I think it is very fitting that the first bookstore we do a signing at is named, "Stepping Stones".  That's where I feel I am in life right now, I just jumped onto a new stepping stone, that God so carefully placed, just so, just for me. 

First I had the opportunity to work from home, and after Justin passed away, it was a GREAT outlet for me to be home with the boys, but focus on editing pictures and getting caught up, I am so thankful that God gave me that job, just at that time.  Then when Justin's Jesus took off much quicker and bigger than we had EVER anticipated, it was time to make another choice.  Ryan and I talked about our future, the future of Justin's Jesus, and our own lives day to day.  With being home with the boys, new book signings in the works, traveling, and all that goes along with it, God showed us that Justin's Jesus really needs to be our focus right now.  My dad had said to me, 'You know Justin's Jesus has a "shelf life", it will not always be in it's hayday, and there really is a small window of  opportunity to work with it."  He was right especially with the story being so near and dear to our hearts it is important to us to take the opportunity God has presented us with and  hopefully plant a seed of peace in other's hearts; it was time to jump to a new stepping stone in my life. 

Sadly, I knew that it was coming and that God was telling me it was time, but I didn't do a very good job of listening, until he made it very clear what my next step had to be.  Sometimes I get that way; even if I know what I am supposed to do and ultimately being told what to do; I am just too hard-headed sometimes, and God has to give me that little extra push to jump off the edge and do his will not my own. 

In fact, Ryan and I were just talking about this last night, and that's exactly what I got out of the sermon tonight.  I have things I need to work on...again that's why I'm on this side of Heaven, there will always be room to grow, things to change, and a way to develop as a person, a christian, and as a child of God, but I am so glad that He takes the time to help me along, and even give me that little extra push to jump to the next stepping stone.

So tonight I am so very, very thankful for a loving God that forgives stubbornness, and even my inablility to always listen, and also that He knows just the way to get me to listen. I promise to try to do a better job at listening the first time.  :)  I am also very excited for this brand new journey! Tomorrow is a whole new experience that I am blessed to get to learn and grow from.

 Once again if you are in the area, please stop by and say, "hello" at our very first book signing, on a brand new stepping stone!!!! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dandelion to Diamonds

I spent forever today trying to find a new blog layout that I liked.  Nothing would center, nothing seemed to really look right, and I was getting frustrated!  Until I found this one, (and finally figured out blogger templates).

 The thing I liked most about this layout was the diamonds on the side, and of course the header, but the blown dandelion pieces that turn into diamonds on the side of the page, seem to fit our story very well. Here we were in a broken life, without Justin with us, our life very well could have been like a dandelion blown into the air, no rhyme or reason where the seeds fell, being angry and bitter, full of hurt and hate, and spreading those awful things [weeds] to others; and had we relied on ourselves that would be exactly where we would be today; questioning life, things that happen, God's plan, feeling like we are living without a purpose in a life that is unfair. 

Instead, God took our dandelion seeds that were blown away and turned them into diamonnds.  Taking our anger, bittnerness, hate, and hurt, and transforming them completely into love, forgiveness, faith, peace, and joy. Giving us a story to share with others that hopefully will relieve some of their pain and replace it with peace; the same way He turned our dandelion into diamonds.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Has Jesus put a baby in your tummy yet?

A lot of people have asked me if we plan on having anymore children, and to be honest this was one thing I google-searched.  When is the "right" time to have another child, or is there a "right" time, what are the risks, the statistics of it happening again.  Were there other parents who were blogging that had a child after having one pass away to SIDS, what did they think, how are they doing...I didn't find anything.  I'm not sure why I thought google would help, I guess because you can go to google for almost anything!  It didn't help, I guess I knew it wouldn't.  I am not worried, now, that it will happen again, as I know that it is all according to God's plan.

 I get asked the question, "Mommy, has Jesus put a baby in your tummy yet?" Everyday!!! :) I didn't know that a four year old could have baby fever, but HE DOES! One night while saying our prayers, after explaining to him what twins are, (my sister has twins and he couldn't figure out how two babies could fit in one belly), Riley decided he was going to ask Jesus for two babies.  The prayer went like this, "Dear  Jesus please put two babies in my mommy's tummy" Jacob on the other hand went a little further, "Dear Jesus please put one, two, three, four, five, six babies in my mommy's tummy"  Needless to say, I tried to counteract  that prayer with my own that night!! :)   

After Justin passed away, I decided that I didn't want to have anymore children, even though we were planning on having another child when he was still with us.  I wanted to "try" for a girl, in fact I cried when I found out that both Jacob and Justin were boys.  Yes I was completely petty!  I love my boys just as much as I would ever love a girl, and I knew that, I just really wanted to do hair and paint fingernails!  I was worried, that it would happen again, that we would never sleep, and that yes I would let fear completely consume me yet again.  I am not there anymore.  I am not fearful, or worried, and I do not care if we do have another child, if the baby is a boy or a girl. 

I had gotten on Mirena, (birth control) a few weeks after Justin was born, and had the worst time with it, and after a few months ended up having to get it removed because it had tipped and was making it almost unbearable to even walk.  At this time we still weren't sure about more children and I had been taking diet medication and didn't want to risk getting pregnant while on it, so I decided to get birth control pills, kind of against Ryan's wishes.  He still wanted more children, (he is not a worry-wort like I was) but also agreed that I had a choice to make, be on the diet pills and birth control or neither.  After a lot of discussions and many many prayers, we finally came to a decision.  We decided that we are in no position to "plan", as I said in Justin's Jesus, Justin was the only child that we "planned" for, knowing now that we are foolish if we believe we actually "plan" anything in our lives. :)  We thought it was best to just give it to God.  He is the only one who can prepare us for it, makes us "ready", and knows the "right" time, and we trust in His timing and his plan for our lives, our children's lives, and our future children.

So as of right now, Jesus had not put one, two, three, four, five, six babies in my tummy.  I am to the point where I would like to have more children, but I am not "planning" on having one.  If the time is ever right, the Lord will bless us with a child, if not, then we have two beautiful little boys here on earth that we get to enjoy everyday, and one precious baby in Heaven waiting for us.  So I guess, the answer to the question if we are going to have another child is...we'll see.  :)  Maybe someday Jesus will put another baby in my tummy.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Signing Dates :)

I wanted to let you all know that we have set up a few book signings!!!! This is a very new and exciting experience and thank you all so much for your continued support throughout this new journey in our lives.  A special thanks to Karen and Jim Gillespie for talking to Mindy from the Stepping Stones bookstores in Grinnell and Marshalltown, and relaying that message onto us, that was the first step in all of this!  Thank you so much!!!


Stepping Stones Bookstore: Marshalltown, Iowa March 22, 11-1
Stepping Stones Bookstore: Grinnell, Iowa March 22, 3-5

Family Christian Store: Sioux City, Iowa March 31, Noon-2

the Living Well: Iowa Falls, Iowa in May Dates and Times: TBA

I will add more dates as they are confirmed. Scheduling one in Omaha is also a possibility sometime this Summer. If you know of any other possible stores and locations please feel free to let us know and we will do our best to get out there! 

Hope to see you there!!! Your continued support is great appreciated!  Thank you all!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

He Is THE Answer!

I have been reminded a few times this week, who I am.  Even though there have been things that have been difficult and words that try to bring me down, the Lord has been there to remind me that I am His, His creation, and His child.  I was first reminded of this on Monday as I was leaving the Beth Moore Bible Study that I am in.  On the side of the workbook, Beth Moore asks if you realize that Jesus not only died for you on the cross, but that He took your place on that cross?  I had to ponder this a LOT, did I realize that He took my place?  I was a human with a sinful, lost heart, I deserved to be on that cross.  I deserve that humilation, that beating, that crucifixion, I deserve the weight of the world, but instead my Holy, sinless Father, took my place.  He took mercy on my soul, and on yours, and instead of placing me on that cross, He took that cross for me.

 He took the cross not only to save my soul, so that I could live in His light eternally, but he took the cross so that I wouldn't have to.  By His grace and mercy, I have been spared, and only He could do that. Shouldn't that be enough? He saved me from the pits of Hell, from a life full of beatings, and humility, and covered me with His grace and poured out His unfailing love.  He has healed, He has saved, He has risen above all the negative, hateful, evil things that cloud our vision and fill our earthly home.  Why would I ever feel that I deserve more? Who are we to demand answers from God?  I guess because, sadly, that is our human-nature.  We want to know everything; but would we be able to handle all the answers to all of life's questions?  I wouldn't.

 I don't want to understand how or why all things happen, or how some people do the things they do, and the Lord takes that burden off of me, gaurds my heart and covers my eyes, and takes the burden on Himself so that I don't have to understand.  I don't need all the answers, because I have THE answer.  JESUS IS THE ANSWER!! Science, research, and people, will fail you, they will fall short, they are not always right.   Thankfully, putting your faith in the Lord, trusting in His plan, and opening your heart to Him, you will realize that worldly answers, are not always Godly answers, and that our Lord is always RIGHTeous; He will not disappoint, or fall short. 

At Bible study that night, Beth Moore was talking about how God pursues us.  This was another concept that was a little foreign to me. I had been reading the Bible, and while I was still in the Old Testement, (I believe Pastor T.J. said it best when he asked that congregation one day, If we realized how blessed we are to be living on THIS side of the Bible?) The Old Testement can be a little frightening, but Beth Moore went on to describe how much love the Lord has for us.  Each and everyone of us, He wants our hearts, He wants to take care of us, He wants to heal our broken hearts, He wants ME!  He wants YOU!  He wants to provide in a way that only he can!  It is a love like no other love imagineable.  I was blown away with this revelation!  Here I am a sinful human who falls short of God's glory every day of my life, and yet He still holds out His hand to me, to save me from drowning, He covers me with his feathers and takes hold of my heart.  He heals my soul, and humbles my mind, letting me know that He is in control, I don't need any other answers for I have His love, grace, and His mercy, He is the answer, the healer, the giver.  He is everything.

 I am so deeply touched that I have a Father that is that gracious, I can't even put into words the love He has for me.  Isn't it just amazing to think that the Lord God Almighty, is pursuing you? That the one who formed Heaven and Earth, knows your heart, your mind, your strengths, and your weaknesses?  That He has seen you on your worst days and on your best and STILL loves you despite your shortcomings?  I don't know about you, but what an AWESOME feeling!!! 

As I left Bible study last Monday and was feeling all giddy, (like a high school girl whose crush just said "hi" kind of like I am feeling now...Love does crazy things to girls!)  :)  A song came on the radio, it is called "Remind Me Who I Am" that's exactly what God was doing that day.  Reminding me who I am, and that He loves me through it all, that He took my shame, my burdens, my cross, and ultimately my place on that cross. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Trying to catch my spirit

I feel like I am in a daze, with my human form trying to catch up with my spirit.  My body is tired, my mind weary, but my soul on the other hand is alive and vibrant.  I feel like Peter Pan trying to catch his shadow.  Although I am a human trying to catch my spirit. 

My human body and mind wants to think about where I would be if that "dreadful day" never happened, if August 11, 2011 was just another "insignificant" day.  Where would I be?  I would be putting three kids down for a nap, I would wake up to cooing and babbles, I would still have diapers on my shopping list, and three carseats in the back of the explorer.  My life would be crazy with three kids under the age of five, and busy with trying to keep up with all of them.

Instead, August 11, 2011 was not an "insignificant" day, it was a day that change our lives forever.  Now instead of listening to baby babbles, I hear SIDS advocates babble and blame parents for "unsafe sleeping procedures" point the finger, and demand answers that just aren't there, (and that is not nearly as joyful or rewarding), diapers are not on our shopping list, and we have room for one more passenger in our explorer.  Life is busy with a book about our son's passing and crazy with book signings, press releases, and interviews. 

Don't get me wrong, I am so thankful for all that God has given me, the purposes He has shown me, and answers to questions and prayers, that I probably don't deserve, but my body and soul are in two different places right now.  My soul is joyful and singing of God's praises.  My soul is not tired or weary because my soul is what contains my faith; however my soul is so far ahead of my human shell right now that I hoping someday I will be able to catch up with it.