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This morning we went to church and I saw an old pal.  Him and I went to the same university, he was two years older so we didn’t know eachother well, but we still knew eachother and I like to think, respected eachother.  He was an ultra athlete in university and I was a semi athlete.

A couple of years ago his son and Zion played on the same baseball team.  He helped me coach the team.  He is a good guy.

When I walked into church, our eyes met.  We both nodded and smiled.

After church we spoke for a few minutes.  We had a nice, meaningful conversation about the hardships of life.  When we left the conversation I asked him to please say hello to his wife for me.  He couldn’t say the same.

5 minutes later I saw him again.  He was in the parking lot.  He was smoking.

He watched me walk out of church with 5 kids. ( I inherited two for yesterday and today while some friends move into their new house )  He watched me walk out of church.  One adult, 5 kids.

I’m sure he felt bad about smoking in front of someone who held Marisa, a non-smoker, through a year of chemotherapy.  I think he felt bad about it because he said to me,

“I still can’t kick the habit”.

We looked at each other.  My only response to him was, “I love you man”.

I loaded the kids in the van.  I kept thinking about him.  More specifically, I kept thinking about his beautiful wife and their three beautiful kids.

I started to drive out of the parking lot when I saw him again.  I stopped the van, got out and walked up to him.  I put my hands on his shoulders and said, “Besides ‘I love you’, my emotional response to you smoking is this;  I don’t neccesarily worry about you because as a disciple, you can understand Grace as much as an earthly mind can.  I don’t necessarily worry about your wife because she can too.  I worry about your children.  I worry about your children because time and time again I am realizing that when I put the kids to bed, I was wrong.  I was wrong in thinking that the most difficult thing in my life would be having to say good bye to Marisa.  I was wrong because the most difficult thing in my life is watching our children grieve and suffer.  Because that is torture.  That is a glimpse of hell.”

( Not wanted to be hypocritical and knowing full well that I love the smell of a cigarette at a campfire, I went on )

I said, “I hope I don’t come across as poisonous righteous, because that is not what I want to be.  I just want to let you know that when I saw you smoking, I thought of your kids.”

He looked at me.  I don’t think he was surprised because I think he knows that I am an emotional beast but I think he was pensive.

Because I didn’t want to leave the conversation without some options, I gave him a suggestion.  I said, “I have an idea.  Stop smoking now and start again when you are 60.  Then your kids will be older and can most likely handle it better.”

He smiled.  I walked back to the van.  I was hoping that I didn’t annoy him.  I don’t know that I did.  I also don’t know that I didn’t.  But I did feel better because just before I stepped into the van he said to me,

“I love you too man.”


Life has been strange for us lately.  It feels like we are between dreams right now.  We have, and will continue to, grieve Marisa’s death, but we also have to somehow look forward while holding on to and honouring our beautiful past.

Tricky stuff. 

The four of us have had a great time with family lately.  There has been much laughter and many tears.  School is starting in less than a week.  Sigh.

Lots of stuff to still chew on.

And chew we will.


There has been a scholarship set up in Marisa’s name at Redeemer University College, the school where Marisa and I started our lives together.

The scholarship is fittingly for a student who is using gifts in Music and Physical Education to further the Kingdom.

On October 18 in Fruitland CRC (Stoney Creek), I am putting together a concert to raise money for that scholarship.  $25,000 needs to be raised for the scholarship to be self sufficient and continue forever.

I haven’t asked you, the blog readers for much… until now.

I am asking if you would come to the concert or donate to the scholarship.  I will give you more details when they become available but for now, please mark it on your calendar.

Thank you,


Yesterday we all went to the splash pad.

Jacoba and Zekijah were playing with some of the water spouts when a boy who was larger than Jacoba came up to them and took one of the spouts away from Zekijah.

I sat back and watched to see what would happen.

Jacoba went up to the boy who did this and said, ‘hey, she was playing with that’.

The boy didn’t move.  Nor did he care.

I guess Jacoba decided that she wasn’t going to physically take the spout back from this boy, nor be able to reason with him so she flashed the bit of currency that she had.

With fire in her eyes she looked right into the boys face, pointed to Zekijah and said,


It was as if to say, you may have won the battle of wills but you lost in the ‘what is more important’ game.

Good job Jacoba, my junior protector.


Last night was the Maple Dips (Zion and Jacoba’s soccer team that I coach) last regular season game. 

Our two leading scorers this year are Zion and another boy named Tiago.  If Zion isn’t scoring two goals in a game, then Tiago is and if one of the players are not at the game, the other usually tucks in three.  Because they are both very strong players I hadn’t put them on the same shift all year.

Until yesterday.

The game was close and we were down by one goal, 4-3.  For a bunch of 5 and 6 year olds having fun, for some, the score is important.  After the third quarter, I announced who would be on the field and in that line up Tiago and Zion would be on the same line for the last half of the fourth quarter.

Immediately both boys looked at eachother.  They smiled.  They nodded.  They knew what was going to happen.

Right at that moment, the look of two friendly yet competitive 6 year olds made me long for Marisa.  Marisa would have been proud of that look.

The look of the boys rang true.  The Maple Dips won 7-4.


Marisa’s wonderful parents, Chris and Ann VanderVeen celebrate 40 years of marriage tomorrow.

33 of those years they spent nurturing, loving, adoring, respecting and teaching Marisa.  Marisa was not the woman She was by accident.

Thank you to Mom and Dad VanderVeen for showing Marisa the truth. 

Marisa adored Her parents.  Their relationship was one of utmost respect, balance and love.  It was great to be a part of it for many years.

It is a tricky thing to wish your in-laws congratulations when your link to them is no longer here.  It is confusing why they received more than 4 times what we had.  It is a difficult to know what to do say when we call them and sing.

But is easy to celebrate a 40 year promise, so to that end, on behalf of Zion, Jacoba, Zekijah and dare I say Marisa, we celebrate 40 years with you.  We love you.


Yesterday we were all outside and Jacoba came up to me with her hands behind her back and asked if she could show me something.

I crouched down so we were eye to eye and said ‘of course’.

She brought her hands from behind her back to show me two flowers.  She said, “I picked these flowers for you.”

I was moved.  I told her that I loved her. 

She started to squirm but listened intently.

I told her that I am going to take care of her and protect her.  I told her that I was crazy about her and that I hope I am her best friend forever.

She squirmed some more but stayed quiet and listened to me.

I told her that every day, every night, every morning, every hour I was going to love her.

She was almost dancing at this point.  Our eyes were locked.

I told her that if a boy asks her to marry him, she can say ‘no thanks’ and live with me forever.  I kissed her on both cheeks and whispered in her ear that I loved her.

She continued to squirm but stayed right where she was standing.  I then was quiet.  Secretly, I was hoping for a ‘thank you’, or an ‘I love you too’.  But it was something better.

She whispered in my ear,

“I have to go poop now”.

And off she went.

I was in a park with Zion, Jacoba and Zekijah.  The kids were playing, having fun and interacting with other kids.  As per usual, Zion organized a game with a number of different kids and before long there was a game of tag with almost a dozen kids.

When the game was near finished, one of the other parents and I got to talking.  We pointed out our children to eachother and when I told her that Zion, Jacoba and Zekijah were ‘mine’, she said,

“You have good kids”.

When she said that, this is what I thought,

‘Damn straight I have good kids.  Do you know what it took to ensure these kids are ‘good’ and continue in that path?  Do you know what they have been through?  Do you know what it is like to have to train, shepherd and navigate three kids each at their own cognitive, emotional and spiritual level through losing their Mom and really their best friend?  Do you know that these kids have every right to walk up to other kids and punch them in the face out of jealousy because they haven’t lost their mom?

That’s right I have good kids.  It is party because Marisa and I have set them up in a community of believers that sticks true to their word when the promise to receive them in love, pray for them, help instruct them in the faith, encourage and sustain them in that fellowship rings true.

That’s right I have good kids. 

I thought to myself, I have seen Zion wade through confusion with understandable and unpredictable behaviour trying to figure out his new role without his Mom and while he is still in the middle of it, he is polite and eats his vegetables.

I have listened to Jacoba’s endless stories of her and her Mommy with a mix of pride and lament that would make a Hollywood director cry.

I have watched Zekijah grow in an image of Marisa so beautiful, kind and full of good that I swell with pride when I see her.

That’s right I have good kids.  Because when Jesus left this earth, He breathed his Spirit for us to have peace.  And when Zion, Jacoba and Zekijah were born, that breath was in them.  And when Marisa took Her last breath, that Spirit stayed with these kids. 

I thought, that’s right I have good kids.  And despite what they have gone through and will continue to go through, they are great kids.  And despite that their father and number one fan is terribly flawed when it comes to raising them, they will continue to be good kids.

That is what I thought when the woman said I have good kids.

This is what I said to the woman,

“Thanks, I agree.”


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