Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Effects of a Purpose-Filled Life

I miss Ben.
I really really miss Ben.
I see traces of him everywhere. Around my house, in my car, in the sky, in my kids’ eyes… everywhere. Most times, it makes me smile. Other times, I burst out crying. And there are still other times where I try and resist tears, but my eyes well up until they can’t hold anymore and those involuntary tears fall onto my cheek. Without even blinking.
I really miss Ben. My old Ben. The trim, active Ben. The one that would give up his snack if it meant his brother got the one he wanted or embracing his sister in an impromptu hug. The one that waited for me. The ones whose eyes I would meet in the rearview mirror and would then go into a spontaneous and goofy face. The one who wait in quiet for more than ten minutes in another amazing hiding spot playing a game of hide and seek. The one who would playfully jump on his dad to rescue his brother while wrestling, yelling, “Twin power!” The one who frequently reminded me that he had correctly guessed the gender of our newest baby girl. The one who would watch movies standing on his head.
 
Ben and Jack were complementary firefighters for a day in early March 2014
Yeah. That one. I really really miss that boy.
While cleaning up the disaster that is my house, I’ve come across many reminders of his earthly existence. His favorite Build-A-Bear. The Nerf gun with his name written in permanent marker. Several blue socks. The little plastic cover from one of his morphine viles. The picture with his siblings in the backyard. His full name written on my dry-erase board in my kitchen. I still have the picture boards from his wake that I can’t bring myself to do anything with yet. I just love seeing such a beautiful collection of his contagious smile in one place. And I love that my kids frequently stop to look, too. And remember. And smile.
One of the most unexpected ways I’ve seen Ben is in his twin brother, Jack. I suppose it would have been obvious to physically see one’s face in the face of his identical twin. But the similarities don’t begin and end with the physical traits. Jack has seemed to adjusted his persona to fit pieces of Ben. Characteristics that would have been traditionally associated with Ben seem to have been assumed by his older brother.
Jack seems to have found a new delight in pleasing us. In bringing us cold glasses of water. Propping another pillow under my back when I’m reading him books to make sure I’m comfortable. Asking if the baby is feeling alright if he can do anything. Resting his hand on my growing belly as I softly sing to him at night. Engaging his sister in a game of chase. Giving her the toy she wanted even though he had it first.
And I’ve gotta be honest. I really didn’t expect this.
Andy and I often talk about this new change. This refreshing change. How unexpected it is, how wonderful. And we always seem to land on this fact: we are all better people because Benjamin was born.
This morning, I was getting breakfast for the kids when I saw a butterfly near the kitchen table. I called for Jack’s help and then remembered where it had come from: the chrysalises must have hatched! Our neighbor, who would frequently guide the boys toward different insects and small creatures in her backyard, had given us a butterfly kit a few weeks ago. Ben treasured the little cup that held six caterpillars as well as all the food they’d need to make their change. He slept with it until the last few days before his passing. A few days after he died, the caterpillars built a chrysalis and were waiting until the right time to emerge into their new bodies. We had continued to care for our new friends in Ben’s absence and Jack would dutifully show any guests his creatures-in-waiting.
To say that Jack was excited about the four new butterflies would be a gross understatement. That boy was elated! After we established the fact that he would only be able to hold the fragile butterflies when Megan napped (they are just not as durable as the worms and toads Meg normally handles,) the kids amused themselves by watching the butterflies eat the watermelon and sip the sugar water we had gently placed inside.




The transition from a caterpillar to a butterfly is an amazing one. Their transformation has often been associated with our own journey into heaven. Abandoning one body and inheriting a new one. What a beautiful way for me to discuss the reality of heaven with my kids. Especially just two weeks after Ben’s homegoing.
We’ve had many opportunities to talk about Ben with his brother. Perhaps that’s the benefit of having a call-it-like-I-see-it kinda kid; we always know what he’s thinking. We talk about what Ben might be doing in heaven right at that moment. He’ll ask if it ever rains in heaven. If Ben ever gets hungry or tired. How many different animals he’s playing with. And how he never has to come inside at the end of the day. The other night at bedtime, Jack said, “I really wish Ben could have grown to be a man.” Andy had just started for the door, but returned when he heard his firstborn’s words. We agreed. And all said how much we missed him. But were then again reminded of the fact that God was taking care of him in heaven now, where there are no headaches, no sickness, and no sadness.
“I’m going to grow into a man,” Jack added. “God told me.” I’ve never audibly heard God speak and I’m not exactly sure when He would have chosen to communicate this with my son. But for some reason, I don’t doubt that to be true.
I really miss Ben.
I don’t suppose that will ever change.
I still hate that this happened to my son. Our family. Why God, couldn’t You have chosen someone else? Ben is a twin. Loved. Appreciated. We knew how blessed we were with his existence before all of this started. We didn’t need something like this to shake us into reality. To remind us how good we’ve had it. Why? Why?
There are so many things I won’t understand on this side of heaven. I just won't. There are some things that we will never understand. We just have to trust that God has a plan and that He is working it out for our good. Even if that good isn’t felt in the moment.
But as I sift through the sympathy cards, the emails, the Facebook messages, I am comforted. Comforted to know that what my pastor said was true: that my son lived – and died – with a purpose. He did not die in vain. Because of his story, people are going back to church. They’re encouraging their kids to play in the mud. They’re taking more pictures of the everyday activities. They’re reevaluating their lives and how they want to be remembered. His story is not just another tragedy, another child losing their fight against an aggressive disease, another sob story. His life is one of God’s goodness and mercy. God’s love and design.
Knowing those things don’t take the pain away. But they do help ease it quite a bit.
My son lived with purpose. And although I would have been happy to celebrate his life for many more years with him on earth, I am glad to have had the opportunity of living beside him for five wonderful years. And I also have the added benefit of watching his influence continue in the lives of my kids.

 
Wow. We have been so blessed.

99 comments:

  1. Mindy, What a touching post. I can't help but think that the traits that you see in Jack now, that were part of Ben's personality, are God's way of telling you that Ben is still with you and always will be - not on this earthly plane, but in an eternal way. God Bless you and your family.

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    1. Dear mindy
      I check your post every night, I get real comfort out of reading your post..I feel for you and your family and pray for you all every day.Im a single mum with 2 young boys and the passing of ben had made me really think about my life in a big way..The boys and me are going to church on sunday for the first time in years and you can thank ben your lovely son who made me sit up and think about my life..I hope you do not stop writing as I look forward to reading your beautiful words and how you make it all so real for me... God bless you and your family x

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  2. You and your family are an inspiration to me, and I think everyone that reads these blogs would agree. I try to read these everyday, even old ones just to remember that life is precious and that those that pass away are always with us. I am very sorry for your loss and I know you might not see this comment but I truly believe that Ben is watching over you all and smiling. From what I have read, he seems like the sweetest kid and just reading about him has really made me see life in a new way and treat everyday as a new day to just love everyone and everything that I see. My thoughts and prayers are with you all <3

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  3. I know I don't know you, but it feels like I do. Ben was and is so very loved. His story touched my life and so many others. And you have been a blessing to me, too. Seeing you handle such a heart-wrenching situation with your optimism and love has inspired me to look at situations more positively and handle things with more grace. Praying for you and your family still.

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  4. Our pastor said in a beautiful sermon not long ago "God does not waste our pain." While we do not understand why such things happen, it is clear those who have come in contact with Ben's story, have seen the face of Jesus. Bless your sweet family.

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  5. I have been thinking of Ben so much today ... or should I say thinking of you all missing Ben so much today ... wondering how you are. I even checked the FB page to see if I had missed a post earlier. I know I will be checking it as long as you write, Mindy. Your faith and God's grace move me beyond words.

    I am blessed to be a stay-at-home mom like you, and I want you to know that even though I have always loved it, I appreciate it a little more, I hug my kids a little more, I thank God for it a little more -- because of Ben and because of his beautiful family. May God's grace and peace surround you, until that perfect day when you all see Ben again. You are in my prayers, faithfully. God bless you!

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  6. Beautiful. Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts and feelings with us. I look forward to your posts. I read them and then pray so hard for your family. My life has been deeply touched by your son and your journey. Although I wish you never had to walk this path, I am grateful you chose to share your heart with us. Praying always..

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  7. I have to agree with what Sharon said....God's is giving you glimpses of Ben when you see him shine through in Jack. It's so beautiful. And yes, Ben had an AMAZING purpose. <3 Love, hugs and prayers to you all.

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  8. Once again Mindy you have shown the love of God and the beauty of life. However long we have here it is just a fleeting moment on this planet. But what Ben has done to further God's kingdom and bring people to Jesus is hard to grasp. Your writing about your journey has reached the souls of many. What a beautiful relationship your family has with God. Thank you so much for sharing. May God continue to bless you those you reach out to.

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  9. Beautiful post. I still think about your family often. Prayers of strength and healing to you and your family...

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  10. ...resting his hand on my growing belly... God is good.

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  11. Beautiful may God bless your family. RIP Ben you were the strongest little boy of all of Western New York

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  12. You and your strength inspires me. I cannot begin to imagine the pain you and your husband must be in but to have such a positive outlook on the whole experience is commendable. I do not know you...but I am so touched by your son's story. You have touched me as a mother so deeply. I am so sorry for your loss. You are an amazing Mother.

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  13. Perfectly written!! Praying for your family!!

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  14. Another beautiful, heartfelt post. Ben did have a purpose and you might not see it fully displayed for many years. May you continue to feel His presence blessing you with peace, comfort, strength, and love.
    God Bless,

    Janet

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  15. What a beautiful post! I believe that what your seeing in Jack is Ben letting you know he is still with you and ok. We may not understand the "why" but you will one day when you are reunited.

    I also believe that some children do have that connection with God that none of us can understand or see classic example is the book Heaven is for Real. If Jack said God told him he would live to be a man I believe that. It could be God's way of letting Jack know that his life on earth like Ben has purpose and meaning and that he will fulfill that for him and for Ben.

    Your family is truly blessed Mindy!

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  16. I really don't know what to say. My heart hurts for you and your family. I know none of understands why this happens, but it does bring many people together and a few even change the way they live. I have three grown sons and I thank God every day for them. My youngest son has sever anxiety and we don't know if he ever will be able to live his life outside our home. We pray to God to help him to be the person he has intended him to be. Even with his problems, we are so thankful for him. My love, support and prayers are sent to you. I know your heart will never completely heal and that there will always be a emptiness there, but I know God will give you the grace and strength to go on for your other children and their children. You have a new soul growing in your belly, a soul Ben has already met in Heaven. Ben has kiss and loved your new baby. Ben will always be there watching and guiding his sister and brother and new baby. My lov to you <3

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  17. I know I dont know you. I think of your beautiful Ben often as my little one will be 5 in a few months. Prayers of courage, strength, healing continue to you and your Family

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  18. It is amazing to me that I could truly love a child I never met through pictures and stories. I will never forget where I was when I found out that Ben had passed. I prayed for him more than I would pray for myself. I still cry hysterically every time you write about everything you're going through. Amazingly enough I feel like your faith and positive outlook get me through the grieving of your precious Ben. God bless you and your family. I am forever changed by knowing Ben's story. Ben and your family will be in my heart forever.

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  19. You are an incredibly strong woman, with such a strong Faith. You write with such emotion, straight from your heart. I have a 5 year old named Ben. I will never forget your story. I hope one day you would consider writing a book about Ben and your family. Prayers and blessings to you. May God comfort you now and always.

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  20. Thank you for sharing Ben with us, he was and continues to be a gift! You are all loved more than you will ever know.

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  21. I just cry every time I read these post. I pray for you because I have no idea the amount of pain you feel. Only God could give you comfort , and I hope that he is able to give you peace like no other.

    Praying for you all

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  22. One day your pain will ease...it never goes away completely because afterall...they were a part of us and forever will be. It's okay to ask God why! After 20 years, I still ask that at times. But the why's come less and less...the wonderful memories have taken over most of those whys...I have prayed that one day those whys will be answered with my son embracing me with one of his bear hugs and saying Welcome Home Momma! Then the why's will not even matter. Prayers for you and your family!

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  23. You and your family are truly an inspiration. Your courage and faith through an incredibly gut - wrenching moment has touched so many lives -mine included. I have read each of your blogs, and as a mama to a 5 year old little boy, my heart hurts even more trying to imagine what you are going through....something no parent should endure. Please know that over the many miles, you have so much love, comfort and positivity coming your way as you continue to share your story with us. God bless you, your family and sweet, sweet Ben ♡

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  24. My wife died 8 years ago. Young. You grieve so hard because you loved so much. People try to tell you it gets easier. It never does. It's like trying to live without air at times. You learn to live differently. That's it. You celebrate and just comfort yourself that they aren't in pain. Johntehaug @yahoo.com

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  25. I love your sister's words: "Ben's gone, but he isn't lost".
    From the depths of my being, thank you for sharing Ben with us, and for continuing to share him even now.
    In the beginning, it was just your story - but it had now grown to the point where it's everyone's story. We're vested in your family - and even though we remain strangers here on earth, it as though our families are one. We certainly do not pretend to mourn him as you do - that would be an insult. But we do mourn him nonetheless. And, we continue to learn so very much from you.

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  26. Thank you for sharing. Your family remains in my prayers. Peace to you Mindy.

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  27. And I have been blessed by reading your words these past four months. Since I started following this incredible journey of pain, love, hope, and loss I have noticed that I don't get frustrated as much or yell at all at my 5 year old daughter anymore. In the wake of my father's death last year I had lost sight of what was right in front of me...my beautiful and amazing little girl . I was pushing her love and my family's love away. But, in reading your words I was brought back and with each post you've given me hope and reminded me not to give up no matter how difficult it is to make it through the day. Thank you Mindy Sauer for sharing this journey that you've been on and for continuing to share.

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  28. i have been blessed to have known lil ben even if only through your words.. and i do believe i am a better person because of him.. god bless you for sharing his life with me.. r.i.p ben fly high ..xoxox

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  29. thank you for sharing your son and yalls journey together with us. he truly is a remarkable young boy. I to agree your story is not over. you have much to share and I believe others who have experienced this loss may find comfort in your words and if they don't already, will find Jesus as their savior. Your family is in my prayers as you grieve the transition of your son from Earth to heaven.

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  30. Ben crossed my mind many times this weekend as I watched my soon to be 5 year old doing boy things at our family's cabin. My heart silently wept for you, as I couldn't bare the thought. Your son has touched so many lives, I know that he especially touched mine. I've been closer to God, my children and my family, all from your little boy. My mom died 12 years ago this Thursday. She never got to meet my kids and It still hurts like yesterday but I see signs of her everyday. I pray for your family everyday. Ben will always be in my heart.

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  31. Mindy...what a blessing you are for so many reasons....and what a blessing your baby boy Ben has been to us all :-) Ben lives on in each and every thing, thought and action that his siblings Jack, Megan and baby girl Sauer experience....I'm certain that Ben is meeting with his sister before she arrives to let her know what an amazing and God loving family she has been blessed with :-) My thoughts and prayers are with you Mindy, Andy, Jack, Megan and precious girl Sauer....

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  32. How beautifully said, Mindy. Thank you for your testimony. Our family continues to pray for yours.

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  33. Mindy thank you for the newest post. I look forward to reading each one but unlike others I get inspired by your writing and faith in God. My heart aches for your family and the reality of the pain of lose of your Ben. Your faith and strength has changed me forever. I too agree with the last post please publish your posts in book form. It will continue to inspire us all and touch others that have not found you. Thank you for your purpose driven life, you and Ben have touched thousands of people all for the better I could only hope my dash pans out like yours and bens. I'm sure God will continue to bless you and your family with peace and a new sense of normal in the near future until then you are not alone we are all here still praying for you.

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  34. I never have any words after reading your gorgeous posts & glorious message, Mindy. I have always felt so comfortable with the written word. People tell me I write well. But you never cease to take my breath away, after I read your blog. Your message is so powerful & I am touched to the core each time I read your newest entry. My respect & admiration for your class & integrity & your message of faith & God has had a tremendous impact on my life. I am so heartfully sad & sorry that you have had to bury your five year old child. I grieve for you, today & in all the days ahead, most of all. Thank you for being so open & forthright & gracious by sharing your beautifully sweet Ben with the World. There is no doubt Ben will live always in each of us who know his story & have been stirred by it. I will continue to think of you all & keep you in my heart & in my prayers.

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  35. I'm not religious, maybe because I'm pessimistic and bitter and in cases like this I don't look at it as positively as you. Your loyalty to your faith is admirable and I'm glad your faith is helping you. You are one of the strongest people to walk the planet I think. It's unfortunate and heartbreaking that any child passes, but him and his family taught all of WNY so much. Treasure each day, hug your kids more, maybe find faith or embrace it more than ever.. at the very least, question your doubts in religion.. I've had an awful year, but to see what you and your family have gone through, and the fact that you still get out of bed and see the positives and beauty on this life, that gives me strength. Unfortunately, it takes tradgedy sometimes to open your eyes to things. Keep writing, your story..Ben's story is touching the lives of so many people in ways you wouldn't believe.

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  36. Inspiring! Ben, you and your family are inspiring. I think of Ben daily, I am so sorry for his passing but I am so thankful to have gotten to know him. He is a true blessing!

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  37. I've thought about you and your family the last few days, wondering how you, Andy, and the kids were doing?! Ben has changed a lot of people and your writings are so meaningful and powerful at the same!! Honestly, I'm going through something at the moment and as much as i have my significant other to talk/vent/cry to I feel as though I am all alone because that one person may hear what your saying and feel almost the same way you do, but they don't know exactly how you're feeling, what your body and mind are going through, and I remember you saying awhile back "I am not alone" and at that moment I thought you had meant you had your husband, your family, etc., I knew in my mind that you actually were referring to god also. So tonight as I was thinking of all that was happening, I thought about all these things, you, Ben, your family and what you had said and it dawned on me that I may think that I'm all alone, but there's that ONE person who actually feels how I'm feeling and crying along with me and will indeed get me through this time I'm having which ever way it turns out.. And then I seen your blog update, thank you :) <3

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  38. I continue to find so much healing in your words. Thank you, Mindy, and God bless your beautiful family - here and in Heaven. :)

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  39. I think it is not only therapeutic for you that you write your thoughts and feelings, but such an inspiration to so many others struggling in their own lives. Thank you for being the voice that so many people need to hear about our Lord and Savior. So very thankful that this place on earth is not our home. We are homesick for heaven and Ben is already there. I take comfort in that. I recently learned of a 5 month old micropreemie passing away and the first thought in my mind was Ben will be there to greet him. Thank you for continuing to share your life and your faith with all of us.

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  40. Your journey has invaded my heart and strengthened my faith. I think of Ben often and like Jack, I also wonder what Ben is doing and seeing. I do know that he sees God and hears His voice. What joy that thought gives me. Your family remains in my prayers.

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  41. You are a beautiful Mother and writer. Thank you for your courage and willingness to share this journey with us all. You have touched so many hearts.

    Jen - Ottawa, Ontario Canada

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  42. Mindy, wow, I am humbled just to address you, a woman of such faith. Oh how proud God is of you and your family. I have followed your posts for a very long time and often felt moved to comment but never did. You had so many comments already. But your posts since Ben did have weighed heavily on my heart. Grief is tough territory, even for someone with your faith. My mom passed from cancer when I turned 17 but I might as well have been 8 with how hard I took it. I had strong faith and knew God used my mom for his purpose, but missing her every day after was too much to bear. I lost myself in my grief for years, but even that God had a purpose for. I wound up starting a support group for teens & twenty-something's, finding there wasn't much support for those ages, and now I am going back to get my masters in social work so I can counsel and work with individuals who are bereaved, particularly following sickness. Perhaps this is what God intended all along. I feel like an expert on grief so I just want you to know that this is all normal, everything you're feeling, and my best advice is to honor your feelings and let them out. I'm glad you talk to your kids about when you're sad - it's good for them to see that and to know its okay to cry and okay to miss their brother. So many people will "tell you to be strong" but that doesn't mean you shouldn't cry. Emotions held inside become toxic. Keep those picture boards up as long as you like, and never feel bad about missing him. Just keep giving it to God - he knows your pain like no other. God bless you and your sweet family, thank you for allowing me to come along as you have walked this journey, thank you for inspiring me in my faith, and most of all, thank you for helping me understand something I didn't with my own mom 10 years ago when she was losing her battle with cancer --- that just because I prayed with so many others that God would heal my mom didn't mean he had to or would. I couldn't accept that he might not heal her the way you did with Ben. You knew God owed you nothing, I didn't. You knew His will might not be yours, I didn't. Thank you for helping me understand what it really means to pray that his will be done and to accept it. His light and love shine so brightly in you. Keep shining, and thank you for lighting up my world. Your son has not died in vain, not even close. How proud you must be of your mighty warrior for Jesus! Xoxo

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  43. Dear Mindy, thank you so much for posting again and allowing us another glimpse into your life, youor struggles, your hard reality, your faith, your hope. My dad works for your dad and I see your family's Christmas picture on my parents refrigerator. You have been in our prayers for months. We keep praying because God does have a plan. He loves us more than we can imagine. I look forward to reading more... Hoping you continue to write. God has blessed you with the gift of words... Encouraging you to keep using It.

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  44. I have been reading your blog all along and have cried with you (had to stop reading it at work!). I too am a MOT, although mine are now 28yr old men. I wish for strength for you as you heal and find your new normal. Butterflies have long been associated with passing souls. I found some comfort in thinking the yellow swallowtail which showed up and followed me after my mom's death was her way of checking on me. I googled and found many other people had similar experiences. While it might just be folklore, the next time I see a butterfly, especially a blue one, hovering around for no reason, I will think of little Ben.

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  45. Sometimes God sends his very special angels down to fulfill a purpose for him on this earth. A profound purpose.Life on this earth is short and it has many trials. An angel wants their special place in Heaven and many won't take the special missions the Lord assigns. But few who are bold go in all faith and return to their home with their heavenly father. No angel really knows the duration of their time on earth only God does. It is not about how long we live on this earth but how boldly we live God's mission. Ben had a very special purpose. So profound that he touched more lives of many on this earth in five years than most do in 100 years. With time will come healing. With trials and pain will come the gift of strength. In the end the Lord will have all the answers to your whys. Ben will be waiting for the time the Lord brings you home. Consider everyday a blessing. For God's will is profound.

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  46. We'll said. There are many like Ben that have left a legacy. May we honor them all

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  47. My heart goes out to you Mindy and your family.. Please keep writing your blogs. It gives me alot of spiritual strength to get through my days.. Thank you..

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  48. I cannot tell you how much hope I derive from your story. It is beautiful. You are beautiful. Ben is beautiful. Your family is beautiful. And it is so clear that you reflect a God that is beautiful and perfect . . . a God that loves little children and has plans for them, to prosper them and not to harm them. God loves Ben and is with him, and I know he is with you too. Thank you for your gift.

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  49. Mindy …. I just want you to know, that we continue to pray for you also in our church prayer group. How the request to pray for Ben and you all turned up on our online prayer board, is only God's doing. I had been praying for you - and urging others to pray - and there it was - the request given to our church in Winnipeg, Manitoba!! Anyhow, we continue to pray for you all - and tonight we thanked God for little Ben's life story and his influence. Oh my goodness …. what an influence from someone so little, yet so big! I have just read your post for today, and wept when Jack said that God told him he would grow to be a man. I have a little grandson, who has this very interesting connection to God. I believe God speaks to our little guys, and I also think that kids don't have all the distraction, and hear God speak! You have an amazing family Mindy. Thanks again for allowing us to be able to step onto this sacred ground. Loving and praying for you all. Joy, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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  50. We are praying for you and your beautiful family every day. As a mother of identical twin boys (now 20 year old young men), I can tell you that your journey has captured my heart and soul in a very special way. It is true, certain things of this world cannot be understood this side of heaven, and this is certainly one of them. But you are also right in that Ben did live an incredibly purposeful life. What a beautiful young boy! I am personally so very grateful to you and your family for sharing him with us. I pray, and trust that God will continue to fortify you with His incredible strength and love each and every day. Keep writing when you can, Mindy. You have such a gift.

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  51. Mindy.....thank you for continuing with your blog, for being so open and true to what you & your family are feeling, and most of all, thank you for your unwavering faith. I wish I could take all the pain away that you and your family are going through. But I will instead just pray for all of you...continually...like I have been many times through the day, that God continues to pour out his love, comfort, and sending you blessings that you will still feel Ben in a tangible way. How sweet and utterly amazing, that Jack is now taking over the things that Ben once did. It just proves the fact that love never dies...but continues on, just in a different way. You have all become a part of my life so much and there isn't a day that I don't pray for all of you.I am forever changed by your sweet Benjamin and will never be the same! In Christ's love, Denise Wagner

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  53. I prayed for your precious son, and I continue to pray that God will hold your sweet family in His hands and grant you peace and comfort in this time of change and new beginnings. Those of us that have never met you have come to know you through your beautiful and thoughtful words. I hope that you will continue to allow us to join in your families journey and lift you up. Though there is no way to convey in words my heart's wish for peace and happiness for you, I hope that you can feel all of the love being sent from all corners of the world. Your journey has touched my soul and has made me "stop and smell the roses." May God bless you and your family.

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  54. Mindy, thank you so much for continuing the blog. I find myself anxiously waiting to read how you and your family are doing. Your strength and your love.for.toue chikdren are remarkable. My heart aches for you. I will continue to lift your family in prayer.

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  55. Mindy, you do not know me but I a pastor and a Houghton grad. Your blog has blessed me so much. I pray for comfort and peace of heart for you and your family. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and words about Ben and your family. Your words are such an encouragement not only for those who miss a loved one, but how much God loves us and brings that love directly to our hearts. Your blog is bringing many to really sense the love that God has for all. Thank you for sharing. I believe a book is in your heart to be shared with the masses on how God never leaves us, even in death.

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  56. Mindy, I continue to follow your blog with gratitude for your sacrifice. On the day of Ben's service we were part of a big ministry outreach in downtown Buffalo. We were at University United Methodist Church. We fed people, entertained them with music all afternoon. We had a family join us for a rendition of "We Believe". For the opening of the song, reflection on your family was mentioned. "Being a Christian doesn't mean bad things won't happen anymore, it just means that within all situations, bad or good, we have hope. We have a future because of what Christ did for us. (mention of Ben and your family, and a quote from your blog on Ben's birthday in heaven.) Then the question, Is there hope for you if you died tomorrow? Do you want that hope? It is simple. (then the plan of salvation simply laid out). It is that simple folks, all you have to do is believe." And then we performed it. 4 people right there made a decision for Christ. Not claiming any credit here.....just wanted you to know how your story has helped to soften the ground for God's seed. Will cover you in prayer

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  57. Mindy this post really touched me and the whole story of Ben. I just want to give you a hug and trust me that is not my love language. so here is a ehug. If we do meet in person one day I would love to give you a real one if you don't mind. God Bless. May God continue to bring comfort to you and yours through it all. love you my sister in Christ.

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  58. Beautiful post. You are correct in saying Ben has inspired my family in many ways. Continue writing please

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  59. Mindy, you should take the picture boards & have a big blanket made for your living room. Then you can all look at it & enjoy that comfort in more ways than one. Ben is with you in everything you do. Watch for the signs. <3

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  60. Thank you for being so transparent during this time. Your honesty is refreshing and encouraging and an example of how we should all allow the hard stuff to change us, not destroy us. Praying for you all today.

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  61. Thank you for continuing to share Ben's legacy and the healing God is doing in your life and will continue to do in your family. Ben impacted me greatly as a dad and God used him to dig our some of my own deep pain from the lost of a child 15 years ago. Your faith as a married couple has deeply touched my life and I keep praying for your family through this time of mourning. God will continue to strengthen and comfort you.

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  62. Mindy, like so many others I've shed many tears for Ben and your family. I'm so glad there was once a boy named Ben who changed the lives of tens of thousands; possibly hundreds of thousands, and certainly one day, millions. We've never met, but I saw you and Andy making your way to service after dropping off the kids. I discretely (I hope) pointed you out to my family with whom I've often shared your journey.

    I reminded my son that I had attended Ben's homegoing service. I saw compassion on my eighteen year old's face as he watched you both smiling and talking until you went into service. He's a senior and his high school experience was fraught with many disappointments when it came to the behaviors of his peers. He'd often share that there was little integrity, loyalty, or self-respect among the students. "No one cares about anything but themselves." He also shared that his prayers about high school weren't being answered. Seeing you on Sunday provided another opportunity to explain to him that even when our prayers aren't answered, we continue to trust God knowing that all things work together for good, He loves us, and that we do not grieve as those without hope. He gave me a series of those fast "teenager nods" while simultaneously replying, "Yeah, yeah" with boldness and power. In that moment he was enlightened, and it appeared that his faith was increased. This is the fruit of Ben's purpose-driven life.

    I hope it's not too difficult having so many eyes observe you wherever you go. Your brothers and sisters are grieving with you, yet draw strength from your witness. We love you, and as ever, you all remain in our prayers.

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  63. My heart hurts for you.
    I had to write because of the paragraph of why. I have asked that question. Many times. Why Lord couldn't I have have my birth babies alive. What lesson should I learn when a friend turned against me. Did I do something to deserve my long prayed for daughter to rebel and be estranged for 6 years? And Lord, couldn't someone else have this cancer?

    I asked the last one again just the other day.

    I don't know why. I hate it. I want it to change. But....
    God is God. The all knowing, the all loving. I cling to that! I don't understand why your precious son was chosen to go to Heaven early. I don't know why I probably won't see our 50th wedding anniversary....but for God. Sometimes it is enough. Sometimes, the tears fall.
    My heart hurts for you.
    But remember the song...that precious song you had at the wake? Jesus loves me, this I know! That is true for all of us...for Ben....and for you and me too!

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  64. Mindy, like all the others who have written here, you and your precious family have touched my life forever. Your faith and acceptance are just amazing! I am so inspired by your words. God has blessed you in so many ways. I know that non-believers would disagree. They would think we are crazy for agreeing with you that you are blessed. So many people in your situation would harbor anger and even hatered toward God. They would question why God would allow this to happen. But they don't understand what it means to truly trust in the Lord and accept His will. You do. I'm certain that there are days when you feel like your world has been drained of life, but you know that God's timing is perfect. Again, we certainly don't want to have these things happen to us, but we can only see one side of this now. I'm sure you've heard the analogy of the beautiful tapestry. The underside is just a mass of strings that don't make any sense. There are knots and a mix of colors that don't really show us the true picture. That is how life is. We, here on earth and in our human form, can only see the underside of the tapestry. But when God calls us HOME, we will see it from His view point... we will see the mighty and awesome handiwork in its full beauty and majesty! The picture will become clear! We will be allowed to see the magnificance of HIS beautiful work of art... our lives! Then, and only then, will we understand all the whys. Bless you and your precious family! God will carry you through all the years here on earth without Ben. And then one day, when He calls you home, you will hold your sweet Ben again... and this time for eternity! God bless you, Lisa Shaw

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  65. I know there are some, maybe more than I realize, but most of us don't know the pain of losing a young child. I can empathize. I can cry. I can't, however, really know the depth of your pain, Mindy. What I can tell you is that I really care about your family (even though we've never met). You've changed my life. I think of you often. I look forward to your posts so much because I want to know how you, Andy & the kids are doing. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  66. God Bless you and your family. I have changed so much because of Ben, and because of your words. I am always thinking and praying for you and your family, and always thinking of Ben when my boys find snakes and frogs in our yard ♥ -Amy (Tonawanda, NY)

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  67. Thank you for continuing to write. My kids are grown and gone, but I am definitely still learning about mothering! You have also taught me how to grow in difficult times. God is good. All the time.

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  68. Just so beautiful...your honesty, your insight, and how God is holding you through so many circumstances each day. Sending much love and prayers...and not wanting to miss a post. You are a beautiful writer. So glad I found you through Kim Goodwin (my co-op friend here in So. CA). Blessings to you today, Mindy...xo

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  69. I hope someday you write a Children's book about grief and use butterflies and mud and worms and all the other BEN things....like Jesus and love and hope. Praying for you family.

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  70. It's so hard to rest in the fact that we will never get the answer to why and even if we did it wouldn't bring Ben or Kai back. I'm reading when god weeps and highly recommend it for when/if you are ready - it doesn't answer why and that is not the point, but it's a great book to understand how God is sovereign over even cancer. That he could of healed it, but He didn't - thanks for sharing your heart with us!

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  71. Sweet Mindy, I have personally been encouraged by your faith and the faith of your family during all of this......I was thinking that you are a little like Mary. She too was asked to give up her son....she too lost so much, and yet, we know that she, like you trusted God, no matter what. The why's we know nothing will make this loss bearable this side of heaven..... and if we did know ...would this be any easier? We already know that Ben's life and passing has brought countless people to the Lord. I've had myriad patients come into my office and speak of the new way they are viewing Christianity because of you and your family. Many,Many souls will be changed for eternity, and although that is the most the Lord asks of us.......will you ever miss him any less? No, and also, I believe that nothing this side of heaven will ever be enough until the Lord says to you "Well done Good and Faithful Servant.

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  72. I will pray for you and your family, and thank the Lord for you for the rest of my life.

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  73. Mindy and family,
    I follow your blog, and my heart aches with you. I have 8 children, and the baby (now 6 months) has downs syndrome, and my almost 9 year old has just been diagnosed with Crohns. It has been pretty severe on him. I often ask God too, why? Why now? It can be so incredibly overwhelming at times, and we have to remember to trust in His plans. Ben is in heaven being your champion, and waiting for you to return. Please be strong, and continue to pray that his life for the time God granted you, be a source of grace for your remaining journey. God loves your family so much. Ben has completed his mission. God needs you to complete yours, now. :) Oh how I wish I could give you a big hug. But, I send my thoughts and prayers your way instead. God bless you.

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  74. Hi Mindy. I haven't written before. I am a single mom with an 8 year old girl. We have been listening to you and praying for you and your family. We talk about Ben all the time, especially when the sun peeks out from the clouds, or when a breeze blows through the trees, or a bird sits on the deck and looks at us, or the rain and sun bring us a colorful rainbow, or when we see a little bug or critter. Such wisdom in our little ones to see the beauty of Our Creator. You will always be in our thoughts and prayers. God loves YOU Mindy. His love and your faith will carry you through.

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  75. We keep you and your family in our prayers. May our Lord's peace be with you.

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  76. I came across this quote today of Maya Angelou on her passing and immediately thought of your sweet Ben.
    And when great souls die,
    after a period peace blooms,
    slowly and always
    irregularly. Spaces fill
    with a kind of
    soothing electric vibration.
    Our senses, restored, never
    to be the same, whisper to us.
    They existed. They existed.
    We can be. Be and be
    better. For they existed.
    - Maya Angelou

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  77. Mindy
    So glad that you have continued your blog. Many people were invested in Ben's and your family's story. He has passed into a new life and so have you and we want to feel the changes-happy or sad.While you were a witness to God's love and strength thru the last few months, it is so important that people see that He is right by your side.Most of us think that we could never get thru what you have and will go thru. But you are a testament to God's ways. You know it and now many others know it. May God continue to bless you :)

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  78. Mindy, my heart aches for your loss every single day. I look at my bracelets and pray for you and Andy and the kids in each of those moments. I never even had the privilege of meeting Ben and I miss him for you. I am so grateful that God is giving you so many glimpses of Ben, especially in Jack. I can't imagine the heartbreak they bring, but at the same time joy that Ben lives on, in so many ways. The impact you have had on so many is proof of how God moves and uses the tragedy of this broken world for His glory. Please know that you, Andy and the kids, your whole family, are always on my heart and in my prayers. I can only hope that God continues to surround with a peace and comfort that only He can provide. With every rainbow, butterfly, and huge toad, Ben is saying hello and that he is still with you. God bless you Mindy. <3

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  79. My friend and I anxiously wait for each post...she always sends me a text saying that "Mindy posted". We both read, cry and then talk together about what you wrote. We talk about God, who He is, how you are able to walk this walk...it is slowly changing us and bringing us closer to the Lord. Thank you and thank you Ben.

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  80. Always inspiring. Always faithful. Always loving, understanding, and refreshing. Thank you for your words and your honesty as we all mourn with you. We continue to pray for comfort and hope you continue to receive the gifts Ben sends you from heaven. <3

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  81. I do not even want to pretend to know what you are going through, but as a mom of 5 year old twins, I just ache for you. Your strength is amazing and you are in my heart and prayers.

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  82. Thinking of and praying for you and your family every day.....continue to find God's peace that passes all understanding.

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  83. Hi Mindy...I ran across your blog and Ben's story through a FB post by a friend in Louisville, KY. From the start, your writing and your love and trust in the Lord gripped me. I myself am a mother to five little people and the wife of a pastor and rarely does a day go by that I don't fight some type of fear that I might lose one of them. I pray on a regular basis for God to calm my fears and help me to trust His sovereign plan, reminding myself that He has numbered every hair on their heads as well as their days...it's completely out of my control. But Ben's story happened to intersect at the height of such fear...we experienced immense blessing from the Lord lately and having walked through many trials already, I'm somewhat waiting for the next trial to hit. All this to say...thank you. Thank you for opening your heart and vulnerably sharing every intense emotion. There's no question that the day Ben died, I held each of my children a little bit longer. I prayed for you and I kissed my babies and I begged God to give you grace. I have no idea what trials lie ahead, but I know, according to Jesus' own words, there will be more hardships to endure, more crosses to pick up and carry. And your heart and your honesty have encouraged me to press on in trusting God's good plan, even when you can't understand how it can be "good". I will keep praying for you...you are a beautiful example of the glory of the grace of Jesus Christ and your family is certainly blessed to have a wife and mommy who perseveres in her faith and hope...especially her hope in heaven.

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  84. I truly believe Jack got the message from God that he will grow into a man. What amazing insight to make the comment that he did that he wished Ben had grown into one. I'm not sure the "average" 5 year old would have grasped that. I continue to pray for your family.

    betty

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  85. Mindy, I wish I could give you an enormous hug and just weep and weep with you, in joy and in grief. As a mother of 3 and a son who's just about Ben's age (4 almost 5), I can only just begin to imagine the depth of your suffering and that, already, is too much. When I hear stories of parents losing their child(ren), I think, truly this must be the worst kind of suffering. And yet that is exactly what our great God did, didn't He? Gave up His only Son whom He loved SO dearly. And did it without reservations, without holding back (all the suffering Jesus endured!). When I think of your strength, I think of how blessed you are to have your faith and a God who truly knows, in the most intimate way, what you are feeling. A God who has walked the path He asks you to walk now. How richly God has blessed us all with Ben's life and how well loved Ben, Jack, Megan, and baby girl are by God that He give them such faithful parents to steer them towards the narrow gate and road. You are right. God has never failed you. Not even once.

    By the way, have you heard of the singer/artist Christa Wells? Three of her songs come into mind when I think of you. "Held", "A Thousand Things", and "Come Close Now". I think you may find some comfort in those songs.

    I will pray for you and your husband and your children--that God may give you His strength and continue to show you just how mightily He can work through small, weak vessels.

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  86. Mindy sending huge hugs, lots of love, and unending prayers <3

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  87. Once again, I have tears in my eyes reading your beautiful writing. Thank you for sharing your beautiful son and God's love with us. You have shown me that Love endures. You're probably not ready to contemplate this too much yet, but I believe you could share God's Love with even more people if you moved toward publication some day. My heart aches for you, and yet at the same your posts have given me hope for this sad world. My prayers are with you and your precious family.

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  88. Wanted to share with you that your blog has helped me go through a rough patch for me. I am a newly divorce Mom and this summer my almost 5 yr old daughter will spend 30 days with her father. I know in my mind it is the right thing for her but in my heart I will miss her terribly. However, your blog has made me realize that she is not mine but a creature from God and she is here as a gift. I am blessed to have her back in my life in 30 days. I can't imagine how you feel missing Ben but you are a woman of faith and God will pull you through. You have made me appreciate my life... You are always in my prayers. -Ana from Houston, TX

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  89. Mindy, how do you use the right words to console someone, if at times I can't even console myself with all of this. I don't think there are any words strong enough to do it. As I read your blogs, the tears just seem to flow and my heart continues to ach for your entire family. The only thing that holds me togather is the truth in your faith. Your faith of God and that life does continue for those who trust and love him. I always believed in God, but untill Ben I never gave it much thought, not like I do now. I can not sit back and say things will get easier, time will take a healing. The consoleing part is difficult for me. The other day I was standing in my kitchen and my son richie came out there and was looking up in to the sky, out of no where he said " Ben is up in the sky" I turned to look at him and said " Why yes he is, he is with God up in Heaven." I am a believer in the road and path of the way things happen, not that it can always be a smooth ride, but I want to thank you so much for bringing us closer to what everyone should have a love for. GOD. Your family will stay in my prayers for my life time, I hope my son richie also. His Birthday was the 15, so I will always have that entire month stuck in my mind from the 5th untill the 15th. I will always say Happy Birthday as the years pass to both Jack and Ben.

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  90. Blessings to you Mindy! Your family is surely one special one. I have no words, other than that my heart is full of love for you all.

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  91. How beautiful. We still pray for you and your family. Now we add in any other sick people too. Thank you Ben's story brought me back to God fully and it feels really good. My son loves to pray and no matter what he now knows God is forever with us. Thank you! I love Ben and i never met him but i agree that little boy was a God sent. May God bless you.

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  92. Mindy, ever since I read that you sing "Jesus loves me" to your kids at bedtime, I have been trying harder to take more time with my kids at their bedtime, which is hard for me. Unfortunately, it's not my favorite time of day, as I'm so tired. But you have inspired me to take more time with my kids and not rush through things. Still working on it. Thanks for being such a good mom. Ben is praying for you from Heaven, I'm sure of it.

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  93. Mindy--

    Somehow I found out about your story and have been following your blog. I have a little boy who died in 1995 -- he was five years old and looked very much like your little Ben. I chronicled my journey after Nathan's death much like you are and your writing is simply stunning. Yeas passed and my marriage ended, but not because of Nathan's death. It just ended. However, I ended up finding a wonderful man. My other two children were out of high school by then and of course, I had no plans to have any other children. However, God had other plans. On March 19th, 2009, our little Jayda was born. Her brother Nathan's birthday is March 18th, 1990. She is now five years old and is SO much like her brother. It is truly God's will. I will keep reading your blog. You keep "keeping on" because yes, life does go on. Many blessings to you and your family.

    If you would like, you can add me on Facebook.

    Kay Winkelman
    Charles City, IA

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