An attempt to declare the Glory of God for what He has chosen to do with our lives. A legacy to leave to my children in the telling of it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

But How Are You Really Doing?

Although I repeatedly answer by saying "God is good and that's what counts", it is inevitably followed up with "Yah, but how are you really doing? It's okay to cry, you should be grieving, don't you miss him, you don't have to pretend to be strong for us, you can't really be doing good when your son just died, it seems fake." Well people, I don't know how else to be except how God has us right now. I laughed after I pondered the fake comment~ not sure how I could fake being happy to hundreds of people and myself and my immediate family for so long without cracking somewhere. Of course I am crying, he is my son. Of course I miss him, he is my son. Of course I am grieving, he is my son. I am a people pleaser at the core so could easily find myself pretending for other's sake, but more than being a people pleaser God is turning me into a God pleaser first. If I am pretending I am pretending to myself pretty good, too, because every morning I have woke up since the accident the first words on my lips are "Thank you, God, that Trent is in heaven." And at the end of the day it is still my son that is not here~ what good would it do to pretend away that fact?








But honestly~ God is good and that's what counts. We are trusting in His plan for this. Odd, I know, call us kooks, but we really do believe every word in the Scripture. Especially the passages that talk about God's sovereignty, salvation, heaven, that this world will pass as a shadow, eternity is a long, long time and God really does have a grand plan to glorify His name in all of this. My dear Christian sister and brother, do we believe the Bible or do we not? Is there anything that escapes God? Could He not have prevented this if He wanted to? Does He really ordain the day of our death or not? Is heaven better than this world? Can we really trust what God does with our lives? Doesn't He promise peace and strength to His children as they obey Him and cling to Him, even in hard times, especially in hard times? Why then are we such an oddity? What if all that God promises only comes true? Doesn't He promise to never leave us or forsake us? Doesn't He promise peace like a river when we obey His commands? Let our oddity in rejoicing over God's plan be a wake up call to believers and non-believers alike.


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To the non-believers to stop and consider the day of their own death when they, too, will meet their creator. There are no second chances and there are no guarantees to the number of days we think we are entitled to on this earth. It is only by Jesus that we are saved and able to enter heaven, and I understand Hell is not a fun place to be. Last I heard we are all guaranteed to die unless that trumpet call comes first.

To the believers~ wake up. Please wake up. Why do we think that God is entitled to give us cotton candy and pony rides during our passing days on this earth? Do you not understand that you are on enemy territory? This is a fallen world ruled by Satan himself. Do you not understand that you cannot sit idle in the midst of a war? Do you not realize that there are high costs and the casualties will hit close to your heart? Where in scripture are we guaranteed a spot on the Lazy Boy recliner while the battle is being fought? Are you fighting? Do you realize the enemy is outside your door, even in your own home, in your living room, in your heart? Sin is crouching and longs to master you dear one. Where will you turn in the day of your own testing if you have not built your foundation now? What God are you serving? Are you serving the God of the Bible? Do you know Him? Do you know His word and His promises and His warnings? He's not kidding. One day it will be you who stands before His throne.


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He has offered freedom my friends. Freedom from our sins, freedom to serve Him, freedom to suffer for Him because it brings Him glory in a way we cannot understand this side of heaven. Choose this day whom you will serve because it has eternal consequences. This freedom is only found in the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. There is no other way. If He is beckoning today answer today because there may not be another tomorrow or another beckoning. Wake up, please, wake up.


Do you know what God requires to enter heaven? Perfection according to His standards. He considers hatred to be murder. He considers lust to be adultery. He does not share His glory with whatever idol we create. We have become masters in denying our own sinfulness, but God sees through it and hasn't forgotten. For all have sinned (yes, even you and me babe) and fallen short of the glory of God. There is nothing we can do in and of ourselves to make ourselves right with God. The only hope is to beg Him to save our wretched selves. And He says He will.



God says all who call on the name of Jesus Christ, those who believe in His name and what He did on the cross, will be saved. Our sins were layed upon the very son of God on that cross so He could become the perfect sacrifice that God required for payment and forgiveness that we may enter His presence. But it's not about raising your hand at the camp fire to accept Jesus into your heart. He also says you need to deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Him, no matter the cost.


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What does this mean without the "christianese"? It means you give it all up. Your pride in saving yourself, your plans for your own idea of the perfect American lifestyle, your own ideas of God, you must surrender all. It means letting God lead in His way, letting Him be Lord over your life, letting Him forgive you.

But, oh, how deep our sin and our pride goes. How we would rather stubbornly hold onto our own ways and our own plans and shake our fist at God than let His plan for salvation be so easy. Rather than seeking the Bible for learning who this God is we have replaced Him with a wealth and health gospel and the latest book or idea. Rather than a sovereign God who is coming again to judge the world for all her sins we have created a Santa Claus in the sky grandfather who winks at our sins. God says He loves His children, but He will not tolerate their sin.



Is He sanctifying you? Are you becoming more like Christ as layed out in Scripture? Search your hearts and know where you are with God. Only those who endure to the end will be saved. May we be willing to fight the good fight at all costs and bring honor to our God by holding onto His word. Wake us up Lord that we might reveal you to this dark world.


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The Romans road to salvation:


Romans 3:23; 3:10-18; 6:23; 5:8; 10:9; 10:13; 5:1; 8:1; 8:38-39


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This Is Why


James 1:2-4

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.


Hebrews 12 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.


Hebrews 10:23

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:35-11:1

35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Hebrews 11 1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.


Hebrews 11:32-40 32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.


Hebrews 12:22-24 22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.


Hebrews 13

20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

NIV Scripture copied from here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Egg-sciting!

Yesterday was an exciting day around the barnyard! Cole found his first Silkie pullet egg!

Cole loves his chickens and has been gladly taking care of a little flock of Silkies that he bought and has fed with his very own hard earned money since last fall. He has been counting down the days until those ladies should start laying eggs and yesterday, right on time, one of the little hens layed him an egg. We were doing the happy dance around here!

My bloggy friend Dalyn just did a post on nutritious farm fresh eggs~ very fitting for the day. Off to the barn to check and see if they layed anymore......


Rocket Science

At this point making pancakes is like rocket science. I think we're somewhere in that hazy brain stage of grief. One egg, two eggs. Whole batch or double batch? Oh yes, Trent is in heaven, one and a half batches will be plenty. Whisk. Add milk, sugar, flour, baking powder. Mix some more. Pour. Add blueberries. Flip. Butter. Repeat. Another meal completed. What was my name again?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Today

Today I am trying to imagine heaven. I can look out my window and see snow on the fields; physical buildings half done and waiting for finishing touches; animals contentedly eating their hay; young boys' bikes waiting to get rode. But I cannot envision heaven. I cannot begin to fathom where Trent is or what he is seeing. This boy whom I lived so intimately with for his whole 12 years I cannot imagine where he is right now. It's a bit different than dropping him off at summer camp for a week, seeing which cabin he is in, meeting his counselor, and watching him head off to the lake to go fishing. That whole week I can envision the wake up bell ringing and sleepy boys pulling their clothes on to hurry to the dining hall for breakfast; chapel time; playing with friends; games and campfires at dusk.







But how can I begin to imagine what Trent is experiencing, and has experienced, the past several weeks. "Where are you, Trent?", were the first thoughts that ran through my mind when I saw his dead body in the hospital. I knew where he was when he wandered the woods at home in search of pheasants or squirrels. I knew where he was when he went to shovel snow at Russell's house and sat down in Russell's kitchen for coffee and cookies. I knew where he was every morning as I sat in the recliner reading the word of God and he lay in his bed, sleeping safely. I had been where he was.


But where are you now, my son? What is heaven like? Are you talking with Gideon about the battle's of long ago? Are you discussing ancient weaponry and the might and glory of God to send so many home that the battle would be won with God's strength alone? Are you talking to Enoch or Elijah asking if they are the prophets who will return? Are you asking Paul about the stonings, about the scales, about the shipwreck? Are you worshipping under the alter, asking "How long oh Lord?" Or are you still just standing in awe of the God and Savior that your mother could never have come close to describing to you? One day you were here, the next you were at the throne of God. How I long to know what heaven is like so I may envision where you are. How I long to stand in awe with you, praising the God who gives and takes away. Lord, I need your reality today. Show me, again, yourself. Comfort me with your peace. Send me your words that I count on to endure.


Scripture is vague on what heaven is like. The apostle Paul said it was indescribable. John tries to use terms that we can understand from an earthly perspective, but even those words fail him to try to describe what he saw. The description of the new heaven is beyond our mind's comprehension to even imagine. The most beautiful place in this fallen world doesn't even come close because it is God himself that makes heaven so indescribable.


Today I will listen all the more for the trumpet call and watch closer for my Savior to return. When the good works He has prepared for me to do here are done, and when my duties that bring glory to His name are done, I too will know what heaven is like. The earth and everything in it will fade away, but the name of the Lord will endure forever. Lord haste the day when you make all things right for your glory.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Just Sayin'


Pastor Doug started his sermon at the funeral by saying {in my recollection}: "Funerals are hard. You never know what to say to those left behind. My advice, tho, is that if your cat or your dog just died don't tell Rob and Terri you know what they are going through. You don't know." Of course we all laughed. Of course Doug has been to a few more funerals than I have and knew what was to come in the many days ahead. We are beyond the stage where everybody who sees us hugs us. We are not quite to the stage where most people forgot we ever had a twelve year old son. We are in the stage where nobody knows quite what to say to us (except, of course, those few brave souls who give up their mornings or their childrens lunch time or their ice cream time to ask) so it is easier to not say anything at all lest they have blubbering parents on their hands or we start sputtering about Jesus and salvation and heaven and all that again. So if you chat with me and I don't quite get excited over new faucets or the agony of what color to choose for the third bathroom or the hangnail on your big left toe that has been dangling for a week~ know that I still care, it's just that I am probably trying to process things like which clothes are sentimental to keep and which ones should I donate to Goodwill; what were my last words to my son and what will be my first ones; will that insurance company really cover all the expenses or do we have to dip into our savings or the memorial money that we long to honor God with so the gospel can go forth even more. Somehow priorities have changed a bit for us. Faucets still leak and hangnails still hang, but when your son just entered heaven they don't seem to hold the same weight anymore. Give us time, ask us how we are, we'll try not to get your shoulder too wet and pretty soon we'll care about glossy or satin finish again. Or maybe God will keep eternity very close to our minds and we'll ask you yet again "Where would you be if it had been you that Friday? Are you ready to meet your Creator? Do you know His son Jesus?".

This Journey

This journey has led me to places I could not fathom going. It has also lead me to knowing and trusting God in a way I could not imagine~ pondering just who God is and why He does what He does; looking at scripture with a whole different meaning; loving the promises with a whole different depth; counting on God to really do what He says He will do, in His time.

God has taken me to a different height and asked if I still trust Him.

Do I really believe that He is leading me by the hand as we walk it together?

Am I willing to let go?

Can I trust Him and let Him be God with His plans for my life and not my own?

By His grace I will keep looking up and keep saying yes Lord, your will be done, not mine. Take me where you please because your ways are not my ways and your plans are not my plans. Yours are better, and I surrender all to you.

Just for the record~ that's not me in the pictures. It's my brave daughter, Alexis. I am still too chicken to walk the high ropes..... maybe this year I'll try them just to trust God in doing it. The louder you scream the funner it is, right?
Looking back through emails I found the following article that Traci had sent just days after Trent's accident. They were encouraging words that I wanted to share. The original post was from Justin Taylor's blog from the Gospel Coalition, the link is here. It only makes me praise my God, yet again, for waking us up and for using us for His glory.
Why Me? Why This? Why Now? Why?

Don’t rush through this. It is worth reading slowly and repeatedly, for in it there is deep and profound wisdom.

So often the initial reaction to painful suffering is Why me? Why this? Why now? Why? . . .
[God] comes for you, in the flesh, in Christ, into suffering, on your behalf. He does not offer advice and perspective from afar; he steps into your significant suffering. He will see you through, and work with you the whole way. He will carry you even in extremis. This reality changes the questions that rise up from your heart. That inward-turning “why me?” quiets down, lifts its eyes, and begins to look around.You turn outward and new, wonderful questions form.

Why you?
Why you?
Why would you enter this world of evils?
Why would you go through loss, weakness, hardship, sorrow, and death?
Why would you do this for me, of all people?

But you did.
You did this for the joy set before you.
You did this for love.
You did this showing the glory of God in the face of Christ.

As that deeper question sinks home, you become joyously sane. The universe is no longer supremely about you. Yet you are not irrelevant. God’s story makes you just the right size. Everything counts, but the scale changes to something that makes much more sense. You face hard things. But you have already received something better which can never be taken away. And that better something will continue to work out the whole journey long.

The question generates a heartfelt response:
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of his benefits, who pardons all your iniquities and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion, who satisfies your years with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Thank you, my Father. You are able to give true voice to a thank you amid all that is truly wrong, both the sins and the sufferings that now have come under lovingkindness.
Finally, you are prepared to pose—and to mean—almost unimaginable questions:

Why not me?
Why not this?
Why not now?

If in some way, my faith might serve as a three-watt night-light in a very dark world, why not me?
If my suffering shows forth the Savior of the world, why not me?
If I have the privilege of filling up the sufferings of Christ?
If he sanctifies to me my deepest distress?
If I fear no evil?
If he bears me in his arms?

If my weakness demonstrates the power of God to save us from all that is wrong?
If my honest struggle shows other strugglers how to land on their feet?
If my life becomes a source of hope for others?
Why not me?

Of course, you don’t want to suffer, but you’ve become willing: “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Like him, your loud cries and tears will in fact be heard by the one who saves from death.
Like him, you will learn obedience through what you suffer.
Like him, you will sympathize with the weaknesses of others.
Like him, you will deal gently with the ignorant and wayward.
Like him, you will display faith to a faithless world, hope to a hopeless world, love to a loveless world, life to a dying world.

If all that God promises only comes true, then why not me?

—David Powlison, “God’s Grace and Your Sufferings,” in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (pp. 172-173).
Our youth pastor asked permission to send Trent's story to the same blog,the link is here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Still Here

I wake up everyday and Trent is still in heaven. The various range of emotions go from elation to uncontrollable tears. I hate crying. I don't know why, I just have never been a crier and I don't know how to do it well. Maybe it is the loss of composure or my need for control. Maybe it is because of the facade of my own strength that I don't want revealed. The tears come easier now which "they" tell me is good. I should be crying "they" say. I make people uncomfortable if I don't cry. But I make myself uncomfortable if I do cry. Quit being such a people pleaser, Terri, and be where God has you today, right now. Trent is in heaven, I would not wish him back. But I see him everywhere. I miss him. I long for him. I ache to feel him in my arms. Somehow I have to learn how to live again. The things of this world have failed to bring any charm or joy. Only the things of God hold any hope. To hear the stories of changed lives already brings great joy. The many, many people we have been privileged to share the gospel with gives this a purpose. To think of Trent, free from the bondages of his sin, standing in awe of his savior, looking face to face with his creator makes me smile. This is not about me. But somehow "me" has to live here doing the good works that God has ordained until my day comes to go home.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Celebration

Our society does not know what to do with death. Even as Christians we do not always know what to do with death. The topic scares us. The shell of the dead body scares us. The afterlife scares us. It is much easier to not discuss the matter so that life can just go on like it always has. Death of an elderly person is acceptable enough, but the death of a twelve year old boy is another matter.
In planning Trent's funeral God gave us the clarity to make tough decisions that we would have never dreamt of making. Trent died on a Friday afternoon. On Sunday afternoon we were sitting in the funeral directors office trying to answer questions about how many people we expected to attend (ummm, none, we weren't planning a funeral this week, thanks) and what picture we wanted to use for his memorial card. It was like preparing for a wedding in a week. Which songs do you want that will honor your sons life and the God who ordained this all and what color of casket would you like? How many death certificates do you think you will need and would you like to order Thank You cards? Yes, No, Maybe, I really don't know. Can we send you the check or do you need it before we can pick up our sons ashes? Somehow, in those two days (really 2 sleepless nights, one day full of company, half a day of church, and a quiet half hour in bed to actually talk about it) God guided us through all of the decisions with clarity.
The only music I really like is Johnny Cash or old hymns. Johnny Cash is not exactly funeral music, so when Alexis suggested "Praise you in this Storm" I had to look up the words. Perfect. So perfect. On the way home from Duluth after the accident we had talked about and tried to sing "It is Well With my Soul" (and mine and Traci's rendition on Saturday wasn't too bad either) so that was also an easy pick. Getting ready for church on Sunday Alexis asked "Mom, can I turn up the radio?" (we have an ongoing battle over the radio volume in our house). I said sure~ and the song "Better is One Day in Your Courts" was blasting. Perfect again.
It was our desire that the gospel be preached, and preached again. We have two church families so we asked both of our pastors to preach, Doug and our youth group pastor, Jerry (who is also a good friend and came with us to the hospital). Pretty much everything about the funeral was non-traditional. We chose to have no viewing the night before. I have been to too many viewings where people are crying and sad and it is exhausting for the loved ones left behind. We chose to have a private viewing for our family at 2:00, followed by a closed viewing at 2:30 for the extended family, then open viewing and seating at 3:00, the funeral at 4:00, followed by supper and viewing until 8:00. We wanted to be able to have the gospel preached first, then those who were saved could come and rejoice with us that Trent was in heaven. Those who were not saved would be faced with the reality of death. It was our desire to minister to people on every level possible~ hearing the word, singing and worshipping, reading the word (Trent's story went out in every bulletin), seeing us as well as Trent's body, along with being physically fed, and being held and hugged by us as needed.
As you will notice in most of the pictures there was alot of smiling that day. Of course there were alot of tears as well, but it was overall a day of rejoicing in God and His ways. We were overwhelmed to find out later that over 400 people attended. Imagine what God did in 400 lives that day! For my own sake I need to record the day in words and pictures, and I hope God moves in your life through it.

If you know me at all you know that the odds of me being late to my own son's funeral are pretty good. Yes, you who know me personally are chuckling, so you can understand why we planned to be at the church a whole hour earlier than we were supposed to be. The girls wanted me to curl their hair fancy so after showers and putting on our new outfits I curled and hairsprayed their hair. The boys, too, have been in a hairspray-mode in honor of Trent so they also got their hair all fancied up.

We headed up to the church in the truck because the brakes had started to go out of the van on the way home from the hospital on Friday night (aahh, yes, this is a fallen world which doesn't even stop to let you bury your son). I was doing allright until we pulled into the church parking lot and saw the hearse. I was actually glad to see the hearse parked because since it was parked meant that they were all set up. In my mind I could handle them being set up, but not unloading the casket.

When we are weak, God is strong. He empowered us to walk through those church doors and promised to be with us for it all. The anticipation for this celebration was so high in our family. We were so ready to publicly worship God for bringing Trent home to heaven and to share what He had been doing in our lives. Jerry and Ashlee greeted us with a hug and then we chatted and finished a few last minute preparations. We talked with the funeral director a couple of minutes and they let us know that they were ready for us to come in for our private viewing time.

Our family, and Jerry and Ashlee, all joined hands in a circle and spent time in prayer before we stepped foot into the sanctuary. Everyone of us knew that it had only been the grace of God that had brought us this far, and considering what was to come (even just being able to walk into the sanctuary to see Trent's body again) we could only do the rest by His grace. We acknowledged God's goodness in His perfect plan yet again and asked Him for salvation for many that would hear the gospel that day. Knowing that God would lead us, we smiled and walked into the sanctuary to see Trent in the coffin for the first time.

It is strange how our bodies change so quickly after death. The boy whom God had formed inside my own body, whom I had often carried and tenderly nurtured with my own body, hugged and kissed and snuggled and loved in his flesh was no longer in that flesh. The cold, hard body in that casket resembled my son, but the spirit who was Trent had been gone for nearly a week. The apostle Paul was right in calling these bodies mere shells. When the Lord calls me home I will be more than ready to be rid of mine. After realizing how true God's word was in this as well (that we are mortal creatures and will leave these bodies behind) we could rejoice again that Trent was in heaven.

Jerry and Ashlee stayed as close as we wanted them to (which was close) and honored our last private moments with Trent by being with us. Just as God sent Aaron and Hur to hold up Moses' arms that the battle may be won, God sent people to hold up our arms during this battle. Jerry and Ashlee were two of the many that God sent, which we will forever be grateful for them.

Trent was never a fancy dresser so we chose a simple outfit. We were able to donate his bone marrow from his arms so we needed a long sleeve shirt. He always looked so handsome in his maroon "church" shirt so we chose that along with a simple pair of khaki dress pants. To be true to who he was as a young boy we also chose no socks and his high camouflage rubber boots, along with camouflage boxers. Just the way we think he would have wanted to be dressed at his funeral.

At the prior meeting to set up the funeral the director had shown us pictures of fancy, spancy caskets with ruffles and silk and polished chrome to choose from. Rob and I just looked at each other across the table and Rob asked if they had a pine box. That must have been the point that the director figured we had to be in full shock (or else really cheap). Rob continued to share with him that Trent would have built his own casket had he known that he was going to die this week and that neither one of us could picture him in something so floofy and fancy. Well, they figured they had something in the back room and it fit him perfectly (hmmm, what kind of casket would you pick for your funeral~ odd, odd things we never thought we would have to decide). We chose to drape his jean quilt that he had made over the top of the coffin, along with a smiling picture that captured him so well, and his Bible open to the Isaiah 65:17-25 verse that God gave us the afternoon he died.

The next thing I did after seeing him lying there was to go get my hair spray and fix his hair. Yes, he should have had a compassionate mother, but at this point we were so elated to be able to tease him however we wanted to. For years he had worn his hair long in Ken-doll locks we called it. A couple of weeks before the accident he surprised us all and asked Rob to buzz him so that he could spike his hair. The transformation was amazing! He looked like a different kid. When he walked into weight lifting class for the last time Coach Olson came up and introduced himself and wondered who was this new boy~ and he wasn't kidding! I had teased him numerous times about using more hairspray than I did and was going to make him buy his own bottle the next week. So, smiling and laughing, I spiked up his hair and sprayed it down.

Another thing that we did was to ask a friend, Rhonda, to photograph the funeral for us. Because of her we have so many precious memories to remember the day by.

One of my dear, dear friends, and Trent's best friend.

As extended family started to arrive we greeted crying aunts and uncles, pancake eating cousins and giggling girl cousins, grandma's and grandpa's. We invited Russell to attend early because he was more of a grandpa to Trent than anybody (my Dad passed away twenty years ago). My soap opera family has 15 children total and soon several of them started coming in. Somehow Rob stood in as the door man to give the family a bit of privacy, and we ended up being able to greet people prior to the funeral and share our hope and joy with them.

One of Cole's first concerns was if his Uncle Dean was saved~ Yep, Cole, he is. I asked him.

The shocked, confused faces that saw us smiling were only more encouragement to share why we were so happy. As from the first people we saw after Trent died, we asked many "where would you be if you had died on Friday?". Not letting them go until they could answer one way or another, encouraging the saved to rejoice with us then because Trent is in heaven, and warning the unsaved that they may not have tomorrow. Settle today what God is calling you to settle.

Fifteen minutes before the service started somebody came to get the family to meet in Jerry's office to pray. Doug was sitting in a chair with a downcast face. I took his face in my hands and said to him "Rejoice with us! Trent is in heaven! What have you taught us the past 15 years? Then rejoice with us!". Jen was also there as she was going to bless us with her beautiful voice and sing a solo. She was so nervous (I can understand why), so we encouraged her as well that if God was faithful with all the rest of the details He would be faithful with her voice as well. We prayed for her to sing beautiful and clearly and above all we prayed for salvation for many that would hear the gospel for the first time.

Good 'ol Craigslist~ I love how God puts people in our lives!

We walked out of Jerry's office and the dining room was full. The church entry way had been full when we tried to get through to Jerry's office so I had just assumed that they were waiting to get into the sanctuary. Little did I know that the seats were full, it was standing room only, and not only the dining room was full but even the back room was full. We had only called 4 people personally to tell them of Trent's death. The outpouring of our little community has been so overwhelming and such a blessing to our family.

I was so touched to see so many friends from work.

The service started with a welcome and prayer, than Jen sang the song Untitled Hymn by Chris Rice. It is a song that Alexis had sang at church before and it is one of my favorites. The words were so perfect for the day, and Jen's voice was perfect singing it. I could hardly look at her because it was so beautiful and fitting.

Chris Rice - Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus)

Weak and wounded sinner

Lost and left to die O, raise your head,

for love is passing by

Come to Jesus

Come to Jesus

Come to Jesus and live!


Now your burden's lifted

And carried far away

And precious blood has washed away the stain,

so Sing to Jesus Sing to Jesus

Sing to Jesus and live!


And like a newborn baby

Don't be afraid to crawl

And remember when you walk

Sometimes we fall...

so Fall on Jesus

Fall on Jesus

Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain

So if your sky is dark and pours the rain,

then Cry to Jesus Cry to Jesus

Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over

And music fills the night

And when you can't contain your joy inside,

then Dance for Jesus Dance for Jesus

Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat

Kiss the world goodbye

Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side,

and Fly to Jesus Fly to Jesus

Fly to Jesus and live!

Untitled Hymn


After the song Doug preached the gospel message and shared the Isaiah 65:17-25 passage.

New Heavens and a New Earth
17 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.
20 “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.
21 They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.
We chose to have the whole congregation join in singing worship songs led by the First Baptist Worship team. It was especially an honor that one of the young men who had been helping with Trent's youth group, Seth, played drums with the worship team. Trent had looked up to Seth and enjoyed his time in youth group with him.

Here I am to Worship

Light of the world, you step down into darkness

opened my eyes let me see.

beauty that made this heart adore you

hope of a life spent with you

(chorus) So here i am to worship,

So here i am to bow down,

So here i am to say that you're my God,

you're altogether lovely,

altogether worthy,

altogether wonderful to me.

king of all days, oh so highly exalted

Glorious in Heaven above.

Humbly you came to the Earth you created.

All for loves sake be came poor.

(chorus) So here i am to worship,

So here i am to bow down

So here i am to say that you're my God,

you're altogether lovely,

altogether worthy,

altogether wonderful to me.

I'll never know how much it cost

to see my sin upon that cross

I'll never know how much it cost

to see my sin upon that cross

Here I am to Worship



Praise You in This Storm words by Mark Hall

I was sure by now, God,

that You would have reached down and wiped our tears away,

stepped in and saved the day.

But once again, I say amen

and it's still raining

as the thunder rolls I barely hear You whisper through the rain,

"I'm with you"

and as Your mercy falls

I raise my hands and praise the God who gives

and takes away.



(Chorus) And I'll praise you in this storm

and I will lift my hands

for You are who You are

no matter where I am

and every tear I've cried

You hold in your hand

You never left my side and though my heart is torn

I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind

You heard my cry to You

and raised me up again

my strength is almost gone

how can I carry on if I can't find You

and as the thunder rolls I barely hear You whisper through the rain

"I'm with you"

and as Your mercy falls

I raise my hands and praise the God who gives

and takes away

(Chorus) I lift my eyes onto the hills

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the maker of heaven and earth

I lift my eyes onto the hills

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the maker of heaven and earth Chorus

Praise You in This Storm



Better is One Day in Your Courts

How lovely is
Your dwelling place
Oh Lord Almighty,
my soul longs
And even faints
For You


Oh, here my heart
Is satisfied (is satisfied)
Within Your presence
I see beneath
The shadow of Your wings
Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere
Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere(Than thousands elsewhere)
One thing I ask,
And I would seek,
To see Your beauty
To find You in The place Your glory dwells
(One thing I ask)One thing I ask
And I would seek,
To see Your beauty
To find You in The place Your glory dwells

Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere
Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere


(Better is one day)Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere
Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere

(My heart and flesh cry out)My heart and flesh cry out
For You, the Living God
Your Spirit's water for my soul
I've tasted, and I've seen
Come once again to me
I will draw near to You
I will draw near to You To You

Better is one day
Better is one day
Better is one day
Than thousands elsewhere
Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere(4X)
Yeah, than thousands elsewhere
(Yeah)Oh, than thousands elsewhere
Trent's football team showed up in their jersey's. The coach presented us with Trent's shirt after the funeral~ what an honor.

Worship was followed by Jerry's sermon, which he was so gracious to share the notes with me. It was the gospel message clearly preached again, seasoned with love, grace, and much hope and rejoicing.Introductory Comments:
When calamities like this come about, what sort of things do you say? Oftentimes, there is nothing to say but to simply weep with those who are weeping. And we—as relatives, friends, grandparents, uncles and aunts (and myself as his Youth Pastor)—all have wept much.
But my wife and I were blessed to be with Rob and Terri on Friday night when we went up to see Trent. We have talked with them much since then, and I know that they don’t just want tears. They want hope proclaimed. And they have been proclaiming much hope. So, let me share a couple things that Rob or Terri would share if they were up here right now.

Things That Rob and Terri Would Want Said—

1.) “This was God’s sovereign plan.”
a.) Negatively—Rob and Terri would say that it was not…
- Just an accident
- A twist of bad fate
- An awful coincidence (According to Spirit Mountain, the fatality rate for skiing is 1 in every 1.5 million skiers)
- Ultimately a work of the devil

b.) Story of Job
Suffering:
All of his 10,000+ livestock were either stolen or killed.
All 7 sons and 3 daughters were suddenly killed
All but 4 of Job’s servants died
Job was then afflicted with awful boils from his toe to the crown of his head, but was denied the mercy of death
Response:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)
Analysis:
Was this right of Job to say this?
Yes! He got it right! The end of that verse says, “In all this Job did not sin” (Job 1:22)—he didn’t lie! Conclusion:
Yes, Satan was the one that incited God. Satan was working. But he was a pawn. Fate, bad luck, and Satan were not sovereign that day. God was sovereign.
c.) Illustration with Trent
Just like Job, Rob and Terri have been faithful in recognizing God’s hand in the midst of all of this.
Obituary: “On Friday, February 18, 2011, God did the unthinkable in our life—He chose to take our 12-year-old son, Trent, home in a skiing accident.”
On the drive up to Duluth: “The Lord gave us 12 good years with our son. And he took him when he thought it would be best.”
2.) “God is working this for their good”
Knowing that God is sovereign over this is not good news. But knowing that God is sovereign and good and is working things out for good is incredibly good news.
a.) Romans 8:28
God’s Word says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Exegesis: Here we have a promise that God is not just in control, but he is also good. In how many things? In “all things.” What is incredible is that Paul—who wrote this passage—is not being na├»ve. These “all things” include suffering, suffering that makes us “groan in the pains of childbirth” as he earlier says. So, what Rob and Terri would say to you, if they got the chance, is, with tears streaming down their face, “God is working this out for our good, for we are those who love God.”

b.) What Is This Good?
But what is really great about the hope that Rob and Terri have as believers is that their hope isn’t a generic “Well, things-happen-for-a-reason” kind of hope. There are particular, wonderful, glorious things that God has promised that will be for their good.
They are identifying with their Savior. “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Phil 1:29)
They are being conformed into the image of Jesus through these sufferings (James 1:2-4)
They have the assurance that these afflictions are producing within them an eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17). This is the way the Christian life works: “Suffering now, glory then.”
Paul says that we rejoice in hope of the glory of God, knowing that even suffering produces endurance, which produces character, which produces hope (Romans 5). This is NOT a hope that things will work out on earth; this is a hope realized only in heaven. If you have talked to Rob and Terri, you know that their hope in heaven has increased a thousand fold.

And we are assured of all of this because man named Jesus Christ who claimed to be God said he would die a death as a ransom for many. He rose again from the dead. That means that he has defeated sin and death, and those who submit to him and follow him in faith share in his benefits. (Acts 17)

c.) Illustration with Trent
No wonder the first words Terri said to me were, “Rejoice with me, Jerry.”
Conclusion: Why? Because she knows that all things—especially the worst of sufferings—is not because God is mad at her or trying to destroy her, but rather these things are remedial. They are like a salve that when it is applied, it stings, but in time it brings life and healing.

3.) “What about you?”
The final thing I know that Rob and Terri would both like to say would be, “What about you? If you were to die today and stood before our awesome, holy, perfect God, what would you say?” I know this, because Rob and Terri asked that very question to the police officer and the doctor who broke the news of their son’s death to them.
a.) The Shortness of Life
Nothing reminds us of the incredible shortness of life than when a young one suddenly passes away. How many of us have asked the question since last Friday, “What if that was me, or my kids?” The truth is, we do not know when our time will be, but we all know that our time will come.

So, let me ask you as directly as Rob and Terri would ask you, “What is your eternal destiny?”
b.) Trent’s Assurance of a Welcoming Savior
i.) His Wretchedness
Trent knew his eternal destiny. But he did not find his assurance by his faithful church attendance or his desire to keep all of God’s laws. Trent did not presume that his goodness was good enough for God, instead what he remarkably did—even as a young man—was realize and acknowledge his desperate, sinful condition before God. One of the first things Terri shared with me after the accident was that it was last summer that Trent sat down at the kitchen table with her and said, “Mom, I know I am not right with God.”

Illus. of Tax Collector: Trent met God on His terms, just like the Tax Collector who would not even look up to heaven but cried out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
He did not mix God’s grace with his own goodness, instead he came to God with empty hands, pleading for his grace.

ii.) God’s Grace
And what Trent found that summer afternoon at the kitchen table with his mom was a loving Savior who had died for his sins. He found a God who would not resist or oppose the broken-hearted. He found a God who united him by Trent’s faith with Jesus Christ, so that all the benefits that Jesus won at the cross would be his (adoption as sons, forgiveness of sins, indwelling Holy Spirit, God’s favor upon him, eternal life). He found a Savior with whom he had hope for the future, because this Savior once said, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40)

That is the hope that Trent had, that he had eternal life and that he would be raised up on the last day by Jesus Christ. Here we see Trent’s body before us—defeated by death—but even now he is enjoying eternal life with his Savior and one day that Savior will say, “Trent, come forth!” And his body will rise from the dust and ashes, never to die again.
Illust. with Isaiah 65:17-25—READ

Conclusion: Do you know this hope that Trent knew and that Rob and Terri know? The Bible is very clear that if you despair of your own sinfulness before God and turn from it, throwing yourself upon Jesus for your only hope, you will be embraced by a loving Savior. You will find one who will give you rest from your weight of guilt and sin. You will find one who will lead you like a Good Shepherd. You will find one who will not cast you out. Who is your hope? May we all rest on Jesus, the one who has defeated sin and will one day do away with even the memory of death.
Pray.
*************

At this point I was very surprised to hear Jerry ask Rob to come up to say something. The night before Jerry had asked me how we wanted to end the service. My brain was on overload and I could not come up with anything better than to leave that up to God, too, and that I would trust Jerry to decide what seemed best at the time. Just before the service Rob had talked to Jerry and told him that if he felt led to get up and talk he would give Jerry a thumbs up or thumbs down to let him know. Rob is not a public speaker, but the gospel message that God proclaimed through him was crystal clear and so beautiful and honoring. If there had been a single dry eye in the church building they would have been crying at this point to see Trent's dad up there praising his God for taking his son to heaven. To end the service we chose It is Well With my Soul as our final hymn.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, (it is well),

With my soul, (with my soul),

It is well, it is well,

with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet,

though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.


It is well, (It is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross,

and I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


It is well, (It is well)

With my soul, (with my soul)

It is well, it is well, with my soul


And, Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,

The trump shall resound
and the Lord shall descend,

Even so, it is well with my soul.


It is well, (It is well)

With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.



Again (thumbs up) Jerry called Rob up to finish the service by praying. Rob led us in prayer then prayed a blessing over the congregation. It is a blessing that he has prayed for the kids for several years, and one that Trent requested every night without fail.

(I will put the blessing here as soon as I clarify the words with Rob)

At the end of the beautiful service we stayed right where we were (we had been sitting at the head of the open casket where the recieving line would come through) and spent the next three and a half hours ministering individually to every person who came through. Afterward Rob and I shared that we each felt led to only focus on the person in front of us, not to worry about rushing the line through or who was next, but to take the time and meet the needs of that individual in front of us. Whether it was asking where would they be, challenging them, encouraging them with scripture, rejoicing with them, dancing with them, my favorite~ tagging Trent so he would be IT forever, crying with them or just hugging them, God poured Himself out through us as we celebrated what He had done and promised to do. There were many tears, and much repentance. We pray that there was also salvation taking place.
I love this kid like he was my own. I pray that God grants him salvation~ soon.

Others told us of the people in the line encouraging and ministering to others while waiting, asking "what if it had been you?". We had no idea of the overflowing dining room or that there were so many people that they ran out of food. My good friend Maddie again took care of our physical needs and brought food and drinks (man does not live by bread alone do they my friend~ okay, okay I'll eat the sandwich). We were so honored to be used to share God's word with so many that night.
When the crowd finally thinned (and we could have happily stood there all night ministering by God's strength) we found ourselves surrounding the coffin and laughing. Rob's sister's family and some of the younger girl cousins had gathered around and we got to talking about Trent's rubber boats. The girls thought we were kidding so we lifted up the sheet and bent over to look~ everybody had to come and see. It turned to more laughter as the whole family shared that we were wearing color coded camoflauge underwear (or as close to it as Walmart sells this time of year) as one last final connection as a family. Telling Trent stories brought more laughter, and we all pretty much agreed he was the lucky one and that we would miss him like crazy.
As the sanctuary was finally quieting down I took my last private moments with Trent as his mom. I looked at that handsome face one more time, kissed him on the little mole between his eyebrows, and told him the next time I would kiss him would be in Glory. Then I turned and walked out of the sanctuary, without looking back, determined to trust God until He calls me home. What a mighty God we serve.
Now, just to prove that God does have a sense of humor and he is sovereign~ oh my, God, you are too funny! As we were packing up to leave Grace came running to find me saying his name is Rob Gonya! His name is Rob Gonya! Who Grace? The funeral guy! His name is Rob Gonya! Now to back this all up a few years, somehow the kids got the name of Gonya and whenever they play the bad guy/gal is always Gonya. What are the odds that the funny spelled name on the funeral guys tag would be pronounced Gonya just so one little girl could get excited and we could laugh instead of cry as a finale to our sons funeral?