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Today my brother Klaas and I are going to the Netherlands.  Zekijah is wearing orange to celebrate the occasion.  We are going for a wedding of my friend Bas, who happens to be my cousin.  He is marrying a wonderful woman named Hinke.  It should be fun.  Drop (salty black licorice), cheese, biking, parties and sleeping in…yes, sleeping in.




After taking more than a day to think about Jacoba’s shutdown at the mall yesterday, I am proud of her for what she did.

In her four year old way, she acknowledged what she perceived as a slight from this woman and faced it.  She told this woman in her four year old way, the facts of life with the tone of a raised middle finger.  And then after facing and forgetting about the ‘offender’, she did what all wise and unprepared people do when they are wounded, she grieved.

She didn’t care about the world around her.  She ‘took’ care of herself by crying out.

She did what each and every bereaved person should do.  She grieved.  And she did it well. 

And then when she was ready, and only when she herself was ready, she moved on.  A bit dented, but she moved on.  And then what does a successful 4 year old do when she has just been wounded?  She takes on her next opponent.  Her dad.  And she kicks his butt.

Good job Jacoba.  Good job.


Today Jacoba and I went shopping.  I love going out in public with Jacoba because I feel like a king with my queen.  People are drawn to her.  She bubbles around public places like she owns them.  She says hello to each person that will listen and her beauty turns heads.

We were walking in the mall and Jacoba was carrying a large backpack.  She stopped to shift it on her back and when she stopped, there were two older ladies sitting watching her.  One of the ladies engaged Jacoba in a conversation and they started to talk about regular stuff.  She asked Jacoba her name, age and so on.  Jacoba was being folksy and was probably making the ladies day.

Then one of the ladies asked Jacoba if the backpack was her mom’s.

Jacoba looked deep into this woman’s eyes and slowly said “MY MOMMY DIED”.

Then Jacoba sat on the floor.  She shut down.  I suggested to her that she stand up.  She wouldn’t.  She sat on the floor and put her head in her lap.  She wouldn’t look at me. 

I sat down with her.  I rubbed her back.  She didn’t want that.  I tried to talk to her.  She didn’t want that.  I tried to put her on my lap.  She didn’t want me.

I know what she wanted.  I wanted that too.

She ended up agreeing to being carried back to the van.  When we stared to drive she wanted to have a contest to see who could sing more words of the new BNL album.

I wondered what I could have done better.  Should I have punched that woman in the face to prove to Jacoba that she will be protected from pain?  Obviously, I am too late for both punching or protecting from pain.

We drove away and I wondered what I should do.  I wondered if I should bring up the topic but I decided to leave it at the time.  She was too busy beating me in the lyric contest.



After I put our three glorious children to bed tonight, I wondered what they dream about.

I wonder if they have dreams, not the REM sleep kind but the ‘want to do something’ dreams. I know that Zion tells me he wants to be a basketball player when he grows up and that Jacoba says she wants to be a joker when she grows up and that Zekijah will most likely grow up to be a CEO somewhere, but I wonder if they think of other things.

I wonder if they will dream to help others.

I wonder if their dreams will include music.

I wonder if they will dream about curing cancer.

I wonder if their dreams will include helping their old man.  (I hope so)

I wonder if they will ever know that I dreamt for them every day of their life.  And that I dreamt that they would grow up to be Christlike.  That they would know that their mom proved that kindness, gentleness and selflessness walked this earth.  I dreamt that they would grow up to speak kindly.  I dreamt that they would take their gifts and use them to encourage others.  I dreamt that they would be trained well enough to know that sin will be crouching at their door but that buying gold from Jesus is free.

And that I dreamt that they would eat their vegetables without a fight.  As for me, I will keep dreaming.


Our big Zed graduated yesterday…from Senior Kindergarten.

walking to the stage

This is Zion walking up to the stage.

The proud little sister Jacoba

A pic with me and of course a congratulatory smootch.

Zekijah was in the pic about 3 seconds before this was taken but slipped out and is at the left side licking her finger.

It was a nice ceremony.  Marisa was missed…Marisa was definitely missed…sigh.


I am not trying to start a revolution.

I guess I am trying to stop one that shouldn’t have started.

How often do you hear someone say the words ‘how are you’ as a greeting and not a question?  WAY TOO OFTEN.  I am not an English teacher, but I think that ‘how are you’ is a question and not a greeting.  

There is a disconnect if you walk up to someone, say ‘how are you’ and walk away.

Saying ‘how are you’ when you only have 4 seconds to talk to someone also doesn’t make sense to me.

I understand fully that when “how are you” is posed to me, I sometimes don’t like it because if forces me to decipher if the question is a question or a greeting.  I like it less when it is a dispassionate set of words.  When I see my relatives from Holland we still kiss eachother (3 times!).  I like that.  There is meaning to the greeting.

I would be in favour of  bringing back the Holy kiss as a greeting.  If one gets close enough to someone to kiss someone, then I think one would be engaged enough to care.  It would force us to take seriously what we say.

Maybe, if I have the onions to do so, the next time someone gives me a greeting of ‘how are you’ with no or little time for me to answer, I will stop them, thank them for the question and give them a 7 minute monologue on how I am.  And if they look surprised, I will just whisper to them,

“just kiss me next time”.


After two posts regarding watching our wedding video (almost to fruition and Song) I’d like to say a few more words on that experience.

If you were at our wedding, you might remember that it was a very non-traditional wedding, so it isn’t surprising that Marisa and I wrote our own vows.

Here is a few lines from what I declared to Marisa on the day we were married,


Marisa, as we join our lives together forever and become one before God,

I promise to love you totally and completely. 

I promise to respect you, encourage you and support you.

I promise to always be your friend.

I promise to never forsake you.

I promise to never forget our love.

I promise to never take you for granted.

Everyday with you is a gift from God.  I bind my life to yours.  You are welcome to all of my life, yesterday, now and always.


It strikes me that I used words like ‘never forsake’, ‘always’, and ‘forever’.

Who would have known how big those words would be.



A Happy Father’s Day to all those that take the role of rearing a child or are helping the village raise someone else’s child as their own.

A special Happy Father’s Day to my dad, Heit, to my grandfather, Pake and to Marisa’s dad, Dad.

A Happy Father’s Day to single fathers, married fathers and divorced fathers.  A Happy Father’s Day to expectant fathers.

And a big Happy Father’s Day to those noble Mothers who raise their children without their fathers.

Take Courage,


When I watched the wedding video yesterday, there were a number of songs (not surprisingly) that stood out for me.

One was a self composed song that I sang as Marisa walked down the garden path.  Another was by INXS, called beautiful girl, and one was a song that the Hoekstra family sang in 4 part harmony after we had said our vows.

The song was called Song of Ruth and one of the lines said this,

“and where thou diest, I will die”

Who would have known how big those words were.



I have a dozen thoughts of what to write today and I think I will span them over a few days in the next few posts.

Marisa and I sh/would have been married 10 years today.

This was a much more difficult day than I thought it would be.

The kids and I watched our wedding video.  The kids loved it, asked all kinds of questions and I tried to answer them while I dried my face. 

One point struck me that is the basis of the title of this post.  Right after Marisa and I spoke our vows to eachother, Pastor Slofstra asked all the people there to answer this question,

“To all who are present here, do you promise to pray and support Mendelt and Marisa as time and circumstances may require?”

To which the people replied, “We do, God helping us”.

Who would have known how big that answer was.


The scheduled firsts seem to be easier to deal with.  Turning 2 or 4 or 6 or 34 have been manageable.  On Thursday I will celebrate our wedding that took place 10 years ago.  I know that it is coming up and might be able to manage that one too.

But last night was an unexpected punch in the face.

The Maple Dips, Zion and Jacoba’s soccer team played and Zion scored his first goal.  He weaved his way through the other team and neatly tucked in his very first goal.  His eyes quickly turned and found me.  Then he sprinted towards me.  I picked him up, tossed him in the air and kissed him.  I was/am so proud of him.(and by the way, he scored later on too).

Then I deeply grieved.  Not neccesarily for me or for Marisa.  And I don’t even know if I grieved for him.  I grieved for the seemingly unnatural situation that we find ourselves in.  And almost 24 hours later, I still find myself tilted.

And I feel ripped off.

Today marks 6 months since Marisa took Her final earthly breath.  I chose this pic because of the ‘crown’ on Marisa’s head.

I wanted to thank you all for the support that you gave Marisa while She was sick.  I don’t know that I can explain in words the strength that you gave to Her.  Thank you.  There is a real danger in having an ‘electronic community’ and I will address that another day, but today, I wanted to thank you.

And I want to thank Marisa’s wonderful family, Mom, Dad, Monica and Greg and Christy for their love.

I want to thank all the Hoekstra’s, Heit, Mem, Fran and James, John and Henri, Monique and Alec, Jacoba and Peter, Klaas and Tanya who have proven to me time after time that Zekijah, Jacoba, Zion and I will never sing alone.

And I want to thank Zion, Jacoba and Zekijah for leading me through 6 months.  I love you with all my heart.  I hope, pray and plead that one day you will look back at this time and say that you felt protected.  I love you.

And I thank Jesus for when after He died and rose, left us His Spirit.  The Spirit of Peace.

And to that end, I wish you Peace.  MdH

A few posts ago I wrote about honouring grief.  A very wise and experienced soul, Roads ( ) wrote this in a question to why people say dumb things when it comes to speaking to the bereaved.

It’s a very good question. But the answer, really, is that they have no understanding of bereavement. The pity is that the very best way to learn is through experience.

I agree with Roads.  I don’t think that people have an understanding of bereavement.  Some think they do, but they don’t.  And I don’t even know that I do.

I know that I don’t understand it all.  I’m sure I don’t.

I understand the hellish part of it.  I understand how sad it is to see that the caller id on my parents phone still says Mendelt and Marisa. I understand the difficulty of trying to rear three children.  I understand how being a young widow is a lonely existence.  I understand the sorrow I feel when I see Jacoba go toe to toe with the big boys on the soccer team because Marisa, who would be so proud, isn’t here.  I understand that people think I should ‘get on’ with things.  I understand what an empty bed feels like night after night.

I understand that grief is very much like fear.  And I understand how scary this new life is.  I understand how difficult it is to think that at 34, my best days are behind me.  I understand how hard it was to watch Marisa strain to keep the glow in Her eye with each bad test result.  I know what it was like to stand with Her in our ‘garden of Gethsemane’ when they told us Marisa wouldn’t live to see Christmas.  I know what it was like to hold Marisa while She took Her final earthy breath.  I know what it is like to feel like cancer won.

I get that stuff.  I am living that stuff.

But after that stuff, I don’t really get it.  I don’t understand the rest.  Do I really understand bereavement? Because if I do, why do I mourn when I believe that the Mansion that Marisa went to is a way better place than this place?

I believe and tell myself that Marisa is without cancer, but what do I know?  If Her body here withered away, does it become suddenly clean when She goes to heaven?  Am I just saying these things to myself to feel better?  Doesn’t this just show that I don’t get it?  I think just asking these questions proves that I don’t get it.  That I don’t understand bereavement.  That I don’t understand grief.  That I don’t understand sorrow.  That I don’t really understand grace…yet.

Zion and Jacoba had their first soccer game last night.  It was great. 

We had a lot of fun and after the team figured out which goal to shoot towards we had even more fun.  The score, although unimportant, was either 5-3 or 7-1, depending how you count a team scoring on their own net twice.  We scored one goal but it was on the right/opponents goal!

Zion was stoked to play goalie for one half, he was very proud that he saved all the shots that he faced. Jacoba was proud that when the “big boys” knocked her down that she got right back up and started to run.

I was proud to watch Jacoba and Zion play.

I was sad that Marisa wasn’t there to see it.

More Maple Dip updates to come…


Shine On DVD

This DVD is of a concert put on by Marisa's family that raised funds for a yearly scholarship in Marisa's name.

Donate Now to receive a DVD