"You want to pay us ..."

Sometimes kids come to our gate looking to earn a bit of money. Today, two young girls came by, and in their best English while pointing to the dirt on the sidewalk outside our gate, they said,

"We want to sweep and you want to pay us."

Of course, we let them clean, and we did pay them as well as gave them each an apple.

Kids cleaning

Another day, this group of five stopped by to clean. My heart goes out to these kids.

kids cleaning two

kids happy

Kirsten has graduated

Kirsten graduated from high school May 26, 2016. We are so proud of her. She is taking a gap year. She and I will come to the USA in August.

The main speaker encouraged the graduates to find a place (community) to worship with, pray, make wise choices, and put God first in all they do. It was a great message.

One of their teachers gave them a blessing from Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

This is my prayer, too. For Kirsten and her classmates to be filled with hope, to have joy and peace as they confidently rely on God to lead and guide them in all their life journeys.

Walking down aisle

Receiving math award

receiving diploma

with Arlene

with dad

with Mikayla

with Ben

with James

with parents

graduated class

me with Kirsten

Cast buddies

One of my friends broke her wrist a while ago. We were laughing about being two moms of seniors graduating and we both have an arm out of commission!

Cindy and I

Ben's 8th Grade Celebration

Ben's class poster

The 8th grade class celebrated the end of middle school with a special chapel. Each of the 8th graders gave a short speech, there was an excellent challenge message given to seek God's way first in all of life, and food!

Ben and me

8th grade guys

food line

Jerard - Four Years Since He Died

".... so there's a whole bunch of us who honestly, Lord, feel a whole lot neglected & overlooked & forgotten, who feel like failures, who are flailing in these oceans of unspoken grief that nobody even knows about..." Anne Voskamp

Kurt and I with Jerard

Yet, You, Dad, my Abba, draw me close and I feel the warmth of Your grace. You whisper to me, "I will hold you close" (Psalm 27:10).

Can a mother forget her child? I know I don't. Each of my children are remembered daily and often in my prayers and thoughts. So much of what I do is for them.

Family Photo all 7

And today marks the 4th anniversary of the death of my son, Jerard. This little boy, so precious in his special needs brought so much healing and joy and sorrow and love and laughter and anguish and hope and growth to me.

Some may not hold special needs kids as valuable, but let me tell you, my son, my Jerard - he taught me so much. I thank God for my visitor from Heaven.

Jerard on Boat Trip

The night we got James and Jerard scared me. I was afraid to hold Jerard due to his big head.


When he was placed in my arms it was a weird sensation. His head so heavy, his body so light. Like a tweety bird. I was concerned if I held him wrongly his neck would snap. Innocence and vulnerability lay in my arms. Tiny body, large, heavy head beckoned my heart to love this little boy and do what I could to heal him, to relieve the pressure of fluid build up in his cranium. Love ensconced this innocent, hurting boy and wrapped it's tendrils around my heart for my little son.

Feeding Jerard

Bathing that little body and soul for the first time, I did it so carefully, so concerned for his neck due to the weight it carried.

As I think back to that night of first holding my son, Jerard, I ponder. His heavy head and little body symbolized my spiritual life at that time. I had a heavy head of knowledge that my Heavenly Dad, God, loved me. I knew Bible truths and doctrines. But was my life living out what my head knew and believed? Had the depth of His love for me sunk from head knowledge to heart? Not then.

Only through the caring for and loving on Jerard with all the turmoil, uncertainties, anxieties, joys and duties did that knowledge drain from head to heart.

Like Jerard needing shunts to drain cranium fluid from head to abdomen, needed surgeries to accomplish this, needed medicines to control seizures, I needed surgery of soul to release knowledge of head to heart felt believing-settled deep-truth and knowing.



My Jerard, my visitor from Heaven. A loving gift sent to me from my Abba. So many lessons learned through him. Thank You, Dad, for the gift of Jerard.

Jerard and me

Early on in the care of Jerard this song by Twila Paris became a background theme song in my head for our Jerard.

A visitor from Heaven
If only for a while
A gift of love to be returned
We think of you and smile

Jerard had a great laugh. A wonderful smile. His smile and laugh could brighten up my day so well.

A visitor from Heaven
Accompanied by grace
Reminding of a better love
And of a better place

Jerard's life has reminded me of a better love...the deep, deep, love of my Saviour.

Jerard could be messy. I changed diapers on him all his life. He drooled. He liked to bite and pinch.

He'd throw up, get sick, be messy....and isn't that how each of us are? A mess? And yet Jesus continues to love each of us just as we are, no matter what mess we are in.

With aching hearts and empty arms
We send you with a name
It hurts so much to let you go
But we're so glad you came
We're so glad you came

I am so thankful Jerard came. I have no regrets having taken him in and walking him through his life. He is my son, even if the legal paperwork was not completed. His name is Jerard Gonzales Symanzik.

Jerard at RBI

A visitor from Heaven
If only for a day
We thank Him for the time He gave
And now it's time to say
We trust you to the Father's love
And to His tender care
Held in the everlasting arms
And we're so glad you're there
We're so glad you're there

Not a day goes by that I do not think about and thank God for my son, Jerard.

Jerard leaning on me

With breaking hearts and open hands
We send you with a name
It hurts so much to let you go
But we're so glad you came
We're so glad you came

Jerard has been precious to me.

Jesus made him just the way he was just as Jesus made me and my other children the way we are.

Jerard's special needs have been irons of fire Christ has used to mold me more into His likeness.

Jerard's blindness taught me to see the depth of love Christ has for me and for each of His children.

Jerard's weakness helped me discover more deeply the truth in God's word that when I am weak, He is strong.

Jerard's inability to balance taught me the need to lean into my Saviour always.

I loved the way Jerard just seemed to melt into me when I'd hold him.

It was a perfect reminder to me of my own need to lean into my Saviour, resting ever in His arms no matter what storm is raging around me.

I thank God for Jerard.

The road our family traveled in caring for Jerard was hard
I do not regret the road:
It's been a road full of mercy
a road leading me closer to my FATHER's love

And all I know is that all is grace And my FATHER knew what He was doing when He created Jerard, When He brought him to our family. I rest in HIS loving arms Thanking HIM for HIS gift, Thanking Him for Jerard.

Jerard in basket

Boys 3rd birthday

Jerard smiling