The Emmaljunga

Today, I took my baby granddaughter for a walk in a stroller—the same stroller that I pushed her daddy in 28 years ago.   Yes, I have had a stroller for 28 years!!  My sweet baby sister told me about this stroller—built in Sweden, the Emmaljunga.  She told me that if I got this stroller, I would have it to push my grandchildren in—and she was right!!  (Actually, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law gave me this stroller at a shower! And then my mom, sisters and I gave this stroller to my sweet baby sister for her baby.  I think she is using it to push her grandbabies in too!!)

This stroller looks like the old-time strollers used by nannies across Europe.  It has a removable bassinette and stroller seat.

This is a picture of my parents with my oldest son—when he was a baby– in the Emmaljunga.

We took this stroller to Disney World.  Our youngest was 3 years old.  Every day, she took a nap in this stroller, as we pushed her around one of the Disney Parks.  They had stroller parking lots, so when it was time for her to go on a ride, we would push the stroller in the parking lot. 

Our baby sitting on Papa’s lap after getting her hair done at the Bippity Boppity Boo Boutique!!

The bottom part of the stroller, held our cooler with our water bottles, and all our paraphernalia that we did not want to carry.

This stroller is not the only thing I have hung onto over the years.  I have saved numerous things—outfits my children used to wear, that are now worn by my grandchildren, and most of my furniture which I have inherited from family—my parents, my husband’s parents, and extended family.

Things that have a connection with people—have great value to me.

I love looking around my house and seeing these heirlooms.

I told my grandson, that I am going to save the Emmaljunga, and someday, he will be pushing his baby in the stroller!!  What a thought!!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about canning—and it thrills me to use some canning jars, my grandmother passed onto me.

I have a piano that used to belong to my great Uncle, (it was made in 1917), and he gave it to my parents in the 1960’s and they gave it to me, because I played it more than any of my other siblings.

What is the point of this blog—well, in this day of so much change, so much turmoil, it is good to be able to cast our eyes on something that remains the same, that calms us, and connects us.

Furniture and things are just things—and honestly, as much as I enjoy them –they can’t hit the deepest parts of me that need calming in the storms or bring me  the sense of security I long for.  Only God can do that.  He never changes, always stays the same—yesterday, today and tomorrow.

What does that mean for us—it means that He will always forgive us—He will always love us—-He will always believe the best of us—-He will not leave us—He will not forsake us—He will not give up on us. Check out 1 Corinthians 13, if you don’t believe me. Scripture tells us that God is love, and 1 Corinthians 13 defines what love is.

These are the thoughts that calm me, these are the thoughts that connect me—to God—to you—to eternity.  These are the thoughts that encourage me—I pray they also encourage you!!

Dear Family and Friends,

Last week was the 7th anniversary of Sean’s passing. 

In some of your eyes, I have seen the unspoken question, “How can you still believe in God, after this?” or “How can you still trust God after this?”   “If God is the all-powerful God you say He is, why didn’t He stop this, why didn’t He heal Sean?”   “You don’t really think Sean’s death was part of God’s plan—that God actually planned to take Sean home—do you?”

I know what motivated those questions—pain, (those of you who knew Sean, loved him, and his death brought searing pain)—and fear—(if God could take our child, will He take yours?)

Sometimes death is a relief– but when death comes unexpectedly and to one who is young and beloved, it brings devastation with it.   It is a reminder that we are not in control of our own lives—and it brings the question—is God really in control?   Don’t these things just happen?

I remember when my friend Becki Crain died, asking these same questions, wrestling with God, questioning and doubting Him.

Then again when Sean died, I did the same thing.   I somehow forgot all the ways God has worked in my life in the past, and all the times I have been immersed in His presence, and all the answers to prayers, and all the times He has provided for us and protected us.  My feelings went haywire—and I was bombarded by negative thoughts about God.  So here’s what I have done in those situations—

 I research again, the validity of God’s Word.  I start with researching whether or not Jesus rose from the dead– why?  Because I agree with the apostle Paul, when he says that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, our faith is in vain.

Each time I have done this research, I have confirmed the truth of what happened.  Jesus did live, He did die, He did Rise from the dead—and He tells us that He is coming Again!!   I confirm the consistency and truth of His written Word, and the trustworthiness of His Word.

Therefore, I can take God at His Word.  These are some of the verses, I cling to:

“In this world, you will have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” John. 16:33

“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer, supplication and thanksgiving, make your requests known to God, and God’s peace which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Philippians 4:6,7

“Everyone who hears my words and acts on them, may be compared to the man who built his house on the rock, and the rain fell, and the floods came and the winds blew and slammed against that house, and yet  it did not fall for it had been founded on the rock.”  Matthew 7:24,25

“All things work together for good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

“I am convinced that neither life nor death, nor angels, or principalities, nor things present, or things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will ever be able to  separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. ” Romans 8: 38,39

“Therefore we do not lose heart…..”2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

I don’t know all the answers.  I don’t know why Sean died.  I do know that God knows, and that is enough for me.  

I do know that I can trust this God, who came down to earth from Heaven and offered Himself up for me and offered Himself up for you, and that is enough for me.

I do know that this God loves me, and this God loves you, and that is enough for me.

God is enough for me.  God is enough for you.  Let’s be Encouraged!!

Much love,


Sean James Stanton

7 years ago, on September 16th, my 16 year old son Sean was riding his bike.  It was a beautiful, lovely September day.  He was hit by a vehicle.  My husband is a firefighter/first responder and he was paged to the accident, not knowing that it was Sean, but knowing it was Sean at the same time.

A friend of ours kept a journal of the events of that fateful day and the events that were to follow. She gave me copies of this journal recently and I am going to share some of her thoughts with you all, to give glory to the Lord who carried us through these days, and has been carrying us every day since.

“It’s been about 2 1/2 weeks since Sean Stanton got hit by a car while riding his bike and died the next day.  Of course, there are some moments about that week that I’ll never forget, but I want to record a few things because I know how time goes by and some of the details slip away.

Monday, September 16th about 6:10 pm Katie called and said, “Listen, Sean’s been hit by a car and is going to be life flighted to Hurley and I need to bring the girls over.”  She came over with the girls and then left to go to the hospital.  Rich called a few minutes later….I asked about Sean and he said, “It’s bad, it’s bad” and then gave the phone to Katie.  She told me that she got to see Sean and bent down to pray for him and was all bloody when she stood up.  She also begged me to spread the word to anyone/everyone to pray!  She said, “Pray specifically that he’ll live because he might not! (ugh!) and that he doesn’t have a head injury, that his neck isn’t broken, that he won’t be paralyzed and that he’ll have a full recovery.”

So, we prayed, emailed others to pray, etc.  While I was gone in the evening, LP called and talked to my husband… not good news….brain damage, internal bleeding and the Doctor at Hurley Medical Center, told them to prepare for the worst.  LP went to get the Stantons’ other kids so they could all be together.

So we tried to sleep but it was nearly impossible.  I texted them at midnight that I was thinking of them with a heavy but hopeful heart and Katie replied that” they were waiting to get test results to see if he is brain dead or not”  Oh, I can’t imagine how her night went.  I tried to sleep but got back up at 1pm and came out to the living room to pray…of course, I wanted God to choose to glorify Himself through healing Sean…stunning the medical world, etc.  I found out later Katie stayed up all night singing to Sean.  Oh, how hard that memory will be…but hopefully somehow precious as well.  Rich said he thinks he finally slept around 3 a.m. for a bit…in the room with Sean. 

Tues 9/17:  I took S & B to the children’s museum and while we there in the music room Katie texted @ 11:43am:  “He’s gone.”  I read it and gasped then covered my mouth and started to cry.  I think S asked, “Is it about Sean?”  and then after I nodded, “Did Sean die?”  I told her yes and that we had to go.  I dropped off B and came home and cried with my husband…he hugged me and I cried…although he was choked up, too.  Of course, we couldn’t eat and felt totally shocked…it was surreal…unbelievable and heartbreaking.  We felt utterly helpless as to how reach out to the Stantons…we assumed they’d be home later that night and we’d see them but we didn’t know that Sean was being sustained on life support so his organs could be donated.  After a long, sad, confusing day, (people were posting on Sean’s FB to keep praying…he’s still alive…ugh…it was awful.)

Finally I talked to LP, who called Katie to find out what was happening and then it was clear…yes, he’s gone but being sustained till the organ donor team could come.  Meanwhile, lots of email and fb messages going back and forth…..  Todd Wilson*, after I emailed him about Rich being so strong for his family, “I hope God never asks it of me.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013—I had decided the night before, (after talking to LP again) that I would drive down and hope to see them.  They had been told 24-36 hours til the organ donor team would be in place.  She also said Rich and Katie had welcomed Sean’s friends to come and see him…Rich referred to it as a “living visitation”.  I guess most of Shepherd’s Cross Country team came down and many others.  The girl Sean liked came down and her mother posted on Sean’s fb page that they had their “1st and last kiss” – ugh—so sad.  So, I arrived at 10 and found Katie sitting by Sean’s bed with her sister.  We hugged and cried and then she introduced me to her sister and started telling me how things had gone the day before as far as people coming to see Sean, as well as just reminiscing and telling funny stories about Sean.

This  is where the really powerful memories became etched on my heart—seeing Katie and her mom weeping together, holding each other with really no words, seeing M & D just sobbing as the reality would hit them afresh and then Rich strong, comforting, rock solid– reminding them of God’s sovereignty while heart broken himself….wow.  He reminded them that God could have made Sean or the driver, (a believer—which was so comforting for them I think.) go a little faster or a little slower but for them both to be there at that exact moment was basically a divine appointment.  Rich reminded us all, (as he spoke to his sons), that our tears are for ourselves and that Sean is in a better place.

I went to Sean’s bedside and held his hand and arm and looked at his face thanking God for the 16+ years that we all had him and for his sweet spirit and kind heart.

Katie said that morning as we sat by Sean’s bed that they knew he was already in heaven but I’m sure they, like me feel thankful for those bedside moments…seeing Sean still warm and still breathing, although not on his own…it was far more peaceful and comforting than seeing him in the casket.  I know that’s the whole point of a viewing…seeing that the person—their soul and spirit—is gone and that what you see is merely a ‘shell’… this earthly tent.  JC wrote something about this on facebook and mentioned that his dad reminded him that people think about us as “having’ a soul but in reality we are the soul and we have a body.  Anyway, I just felt thankful for every moment that I shared with the Stantons by Sean’s side that morning.  I told them how very generous it was for them to share Sean and those moments in the hospital with anyone who wanted to come.  Even while I was there one of them was on the phone with someone from MP who wanted to know if people could still come or if they wanted people to stop coming and they said if people want to come tell them to come.  WOW!

Then my dear friend wrote this in a letter, when she shared this journal with me:

We are praying for your whole family as you remember, hurt, and grieve together on a deeper level this week.  I’m guessing it never really gets any easier to go on without Sean.  We love you guys and are thankful for your friendship and are humbled as we watch you move forward in life with such deep wounds and pain.  Watching you “keep on keeping on” in your faith after losing Sean.. well, it’s a gift to those around you to see you “suffering well”  (reference is from a Piper article I read a while back…actually it was written by another guy Marshall Segal, who writes for…”Few things fortify the soul against Satan’s deception like watching another Christian suffer with persevering faith.  When we watch others walk through the valley of the shadow of death with purpose and joy in God, through ups and downs, their faithfulness and endurance inspire fresh hopefulness and vigilance.”  It’s a great article and of course, made me think of you both.)  One of the most powerful images I carry with me, (that I didn’t write about in this journal entry) is of you guys singing with hands held high In praise to our loving Father at Sean’s funeral…Praise you in the Storm.”  It is seared in my heart and mind…witnessing your faith…trusting God despite the horrendous circumstance that you were facing.

I’m so sorry Sean is gone….so sorry you didn’t get to watch him continue to mature into adulthood and see him become an Uncle, (a doting Uncle I’m sure) to your precious grandkids or become a dad himself one day.  He certainly would’ve been an amazing husband and father!!  He was one of the warmest souls I have ever known.

This is me – Katie—speaking now—what a precious gift my friend has given to us by sharing with us this journal—by continuing to show her love and concern.  One of the ways that God ministered to us then and now– is through His body of believers—people who came along besides us and helped us and ministered to us. I wrote my own version of these events in my blog, “The Gift of Grace”, where I talk about God’s presence which sustained us and still sustains us.

I wanted you all—people I have met and people I have not—to know that God is real.  He is real.  He is love– even during the worst times of your life.  I am praying for all of you reading this blog, right now, that you will know God and be filled up with His love which has no end. I am praying that you will be encouraged!

*I used Todd Wilson’s full name as he is a public person, as a Christian author and speaker.

To Can Or Not To Can?

My daughter and I worked all afternoon, making applesauce.  It is quite a process to wash, then quarter apples, boil them until they are soft enough to process them into applesauce with the Vitrola, and then can them and process them again in the canner until—voila—many hours later– all we have to show for our hard labor is 7 jars of applesauce.  Or is that all we have to show…..

We enjoyed talking with each other during this time, laughing and joking.  I relived memories of watching my parents can, and when I was old enough—helping them can.

My Dad was taught to can by his grandparents, and my mother was taught to can by her grandparents. 

Participating in this activity, links me to a tradition that has been in my family for generations—of producing food, and canning it to prepare for the winter.

Years ago, after canning tomatoes, my son Sean—who had helped with the process of gardening and canning—wondered why I went to all that work and labor.  “Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just buy some cans of tomatoes at the store?”   He wasn’t wrong, it probably would have been less expensive in some ways—but now I have the memories of Sean working in the garden—ok—in some of those memories—he was complaining—and Sean helping in the canning process–ok–there was also some complaining going on there as well 🙂 , and I have memories of these things with my other children as well. 

Someday my children may have gardens, they may can, and honestly after this past year—the ability to grow and preserve our own food is a handy skill to have.

I am so impressed and amazed with how many of my siblings and cousins have beautiful gardens.  It is something that was passed down in our family tree—this love of the land, and the desire to grow vegetation.

I was talking to some of my International Friends this week, and we were talking about canning, and pickling.  One of my friend’s mother is a great pickler, and we joked about having her Skype with us and teach us how to pickle. 

Except I wasn’t really joking—I would love to learn from her mom about pickling.

If you have someone in your life that you want to learn a skill from—I encourage you to make the time to learn.  Make some memories–  Learn a skill—that you may be able to pass on to someone else.

Engaging with each other, talking with each other, working with each other—these are precious things—these are encouraging things, and since this is the National Day of Encouragement—I hope that you are encouraged!!  God Bless you!!

Worried?–no? Praying–Yes!!

Well… my birthday has come and gone—and newsflash—I actually had a lovely day!!  I am not sure why after years of having terrible melancholy on my birthday, this year, it was a sweet and enjoyable day.  As I explained in the blog, titled, “The Beat goes on.”, since I can remember, I have felt terribly sad on my birthday, and I don’t know why.  In fact, I just expect to feel badly—but this year although I expected to feel badly–  I did not!!!, and I can only attribute this to the fact that I let you’all know I was feeling sad, and you’all prayed for me; you fought this spiritual battle with me, and for this, I am grateful, so, very, very grateful, and so is my family. 

  I must say, that you prayed for me before—when I wasn’t sleeping, and I shared that with you’all in my blog, “The Gift of Sleep, has been taken away.” and then in my blog, ” I am sleeping again, Thank you God!!,” I was able to tell you’all that I was indeed sleeping again— because you were praying for me.!!

  Wow—who knew that this would be the benefit of writing this blog to me!!  I thought I was just stepping out in faith and being obedient to what God was telling me to do—but God knew that He would also be using this blog in my life—to help me in fighting  spiritual battles.

I hope you will share on my blog areas you need prayer, as I think this could be one of the most encouraging and transforming elements of this blog—all of us praying for each other.

I ask you to pray for my family and myself as we come up to one of the most difficult seasons of the year for us.  We lost our beloved son, (and for my children—their brother), seven years ago this coming September 17th.  Sean was hit by a vehicle while riding his bike on September 16th, and declared dead on the 17th.

This is a season with great pain and suffering, not just for me and my family, but for our entire nation–for many, many reasons. I am praying that our circumstances draw us to the Lover of our souls and that we find what we have all been thirsting and hungering after in Him. May we love one another as we are filled with His love. May our country be changed because of that love.

I found this video that gives examples of the transforming power of God. I found it to be so, so encouraging, and hope it encourages you as well.

We have so much to pray for and about.  I encourage all of us to go before the throne of God to find help in our time of need.  Let us set aside time everyday to humble ourselves before His Mighty Hand and pray!!  And Let Us Be Encouraged!!