James and Cormac

James' friend, Cormac, moved away this past week. They've been friends for a couple years now. Here are some photos of the two sharing good times together.

Jerard - the Third year since his death

Jerard, my visitor from heaven, went to be with Jesus May 18, 2012, when he was 4 1/2 years old.

I am so thankful he came. I'm so thankful he was in my life.
Not a day goes by I don't think of him and thank God for Jerard.

As Twila Paris says in the song she wrote, the song that was my theme song in my head during the years of having Jerard, the song we played at his funeral....
I'm so glad you came, I'm so glad you came...

As part of my own healing from his loss and in honoring what his life meant to me, I've written a book about lessons learned from him. Anybody know a good editor to help me with editing it to a publishable form?

I miss my little guy and I am so thankful he came.

Complete lyrics and eulogogy I gave at his funeral

I tend to think in songs.
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 these past four years. He is my son, even if the legal paperwork was not completed. His name is Jerard Gonzales Symanzik.

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

My arms ache to hold him again. To bathe and feed him, to dress him, rock him, love on him....but I know he is so much happier in heaven and I rejoice for him being there and look forward to seeing him again some day.

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 more.
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 these past four plus years has been hard
I do not regret the road we've traveled with Jerard
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.

Reflections on Farewells

It is that time of year again - school is coming to a close for this school year. And in this missionary community the end of school also brings the end of some face-to-face friendships.

This year I have seven friends leaving - some for furlough - some for good. Problem is we will be leaving after next school year before the furloughing friends return here.

Making new friends and frequent "see-you-laters" are part and parcel of the missionary life.

There are many rich blessings to this life but the down side is frequent goodbyes.

My kids have all said hello and goodbye many times. It can break a mom's heart to see her kids deal with these frequent losses.

Dave Pollock, an authority on third culture kids (TCKs), transitions and internationally mobile families prepared a useful tool to help missionaries and TCKs with frequent transitions.

The acronymn for this tool is R.A.F.T.
Think Destination

Reconciliation Any transition can lend itself to wanting to ignore tensions in current relationships. We may think, "this person is leaving so why work out our differences?" But ignoring this interpersonal conflict short circuits the process of closure and makes it hard to build the rest of the RAFT. Working through conflict, forgiving and being forgiven open healthy avenues of relationship repair and also building new relationships without old resentments dampening the new friendship.

Affirmation Taking the time to acknowledge what the person(s) leaving means to you is important. When my grandma died so many people would say to me, "I wish I had told her how much she meant to me while she was still alive." I was 16 when my grandma died. Those statements impacted me to make it a point to tell people what I appreciate about them while they are alive. I heard statements like this at my dad and mom's funerals too. So I'm encouraging you and reminding myself to tell those around you how much you appreciate them. Tell your coworkers, the teachers of your children, your minister, friends, family what you enjoy, that you appreciate them, that you love them. This can be done verbally or in letter.

Part of closure is acknowledging our blessings--both to rejoice in others and properly mourn their departures.

Farewells Saying goodbye to people, places, pets, possessions in culturally appropriate ways is important if we don't want to have deep regrets later. We need to schedule time for these farewells during the last few days and weeks. I have coffee dates coming up with some friends leaving. I'll use this time to tell them verbally and in writing how they've impacted my life, that I appreciate their friendship, etc. I'll be writing notes to my children's teachers as well as this school year winds down in another 10 days. Our family plans to have some friends come for dinner before they depart the field - this is another opportunity to express appreciation and have some closure to the face-to-face time we've had.
Openly acknowledging this time as a true goodbye is important.

James has a good friend leaving for good and he will have a final play date with him this week to say goodbye. I think it's important to help kids learn these RAFT skills early on in life.

Think Destination Even as we are saying goodbye, we need to be thinking realistically about our destination. This will really apply to us next June 2016 when we move to the USA. Right now we are on the staying end of farewells. But it's important to think about where one is going. What will be positive and negative aspects we can expect once we get there? What are our support structures externally as well as our internal resources for coping with problems we might find? Who can help us adjust?
Transitions always bring chaos and confusion. This is very normal and will pass in time. Learning to say goodbyes well helps in the transitioning to the next phase/season of life.

Pray for our kids as they say farewell to friends, and for us as we say farewells too. Thanks!


Ben, along with the rest of classmates at the school, recently participated in some fun games. Joel and Ben were paired with Jessica to run a three person, three leg race. Trouble is, Jessica is very short compared to the two guys. But they solved that problem!!!

Paper Pondering

A major benefit of the software Kurt has been creating for Mercy Maternity Clinic is to cut down the amount of paper they store. They have shelves and shelves of paper work from the thousands of clients they've serviced.

You can read more at my husband's blog - kurtsymanzik.org