Tuesday, December 11, 2012


What comes after three?  Before five?  FOUR!  And we are there.  Easton turned four on November 21st and we partied in style; a monster truck birthday bash it was!  Daddy pulled out his best artistic skillz to create this bad boy:

And we had ourselves a spectacular time, just as you should at a birthday party for a four-year-old boy, right?

First of all, on his birthday wish list?

1)      A grape harvester

2)      A feller buncher

3)      A telehandler

I don’t make this stuff up (And either does he…go ahead, google it.  That stuff really exists!).  I’m also not making it up when I tell you he got all of those wishes granted.  Every. Stinking. One.  He’s put many miles (or hours?) on each one.  He spends hours playing in his room and his imagination cannot be harnessed.  He is so, so full of life and I love him all the more for it.

Now onto the yearly birthday interview!  Remember back to last year when I did the same interview?  SO fun to look back and compare.  I also added a few questions this year that a) he didn’t have a clue how to answer last year or b) just plain didn’t apply.  I so look forward to doing these every year and watching, on paper and with my own eyes, this little guy continue to grow and turn into the amazing person I just know God is planning for him to be.


Also, too funny not to mention: At the end of what must have seemed like a million interview questions Easton says, “Mom, I don’t want to do so many words.”

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Steadfast: Faith and Family

From Dana:

I sat down to write a post about Easton…his birthday, how awesome he is, and his latest birthday interview.  That’ll come, I promise.  And I’m excited to put into words how much awesome he injects into our lives.  But right now my heart is too heavy and my mind is too full to write the carefree, fun post that needs to be.

Our family has changed a lot in the past two years; I have gained two sister-in-laws and a sweet, snuggly niece.  It’s great to finally have some girl power in our family (prior to said sister-in-laws and niece my mom and I were the only female figures)!  Family get-togethers and holidays have reached a new level of awesome with each new Van Zanten. J

Last week we were deep into preparations for Easton’s monster truck birthday bash.  We were nearly certain my brother and his wife, Katie, wouldn’t be attending as Katie had been struggling with a migraine for a number of days and was struggling to get a handle on it.  Two hours before party time my mom called.  They were headed to the ER to meet Andy and Katie.  After this phone call, came a series of phone calls from the ER including one which I will never forget.  It was my dad and I listened as he said, “Andy and Katie didn’t get very good news.  They found something in Katie’s brain.”  My response:  “No!”  Many of you probably know the feeling that followed.  Your heart sinks and your stomach falls to the floor.  I told David the news and remember telling him with tears in my eyes, “I’m just so scared for them.”

The minutes, hours, and days that followed were a huge emotional and spiritual roller coaster for me.  I went through times when I was completely convinced that God would, without a doubt, remove the tumor from Katie’s brain.  Other times I was scared and almost downright fearful for what the future might hold.  I reached for the Bible more times than I can count and hoped beyond hope that a verse would jump off the page and give me reassurance that everything would be fine.  I tuned Pandora to the Christian music station and yearned for the perfect song to play.  When I think back it seems sort of silly, but I was grasping for hope.  I know any number of uplifting verses in scripture and can list more than a few songs that bring peace to my soul, but I wanted God to throw it in my face instead of having to find it on my own.

One particular evening during what seemed to be a never-ending week, I crashed.  I crashed hard.  I was exhausted and couldn’t find the energy to do the most menial tasks.  At 8:30pm my husband picked me up off the floor, told the kids to tell me goodnight, and pushed me down the hall to bed.  I was tired, but there was no way I was going to sleep.  I pulled out my Kindle and started reading scripture; this time with meaning and purpose.  When I came across a moving verse, I’d YouTube a song that correlated.  And I cried.   I emptied my soul until there were no more tears to cry.  All those walls that I had built up behind me for support came crumbling down.  But slowly, one by one, I put the bricks back up.  But this time, God was the mortar that was holding it together.  No more hoping for the right song to play.  No more wishing a meaningful verse would jump off the page.  I know my God and I know He’s always there for me.  I didn’t need those things for proof.

My brother and his wife are insanely incredible.  They have not wavered from the very beginning.  They have not lost faith.  They have, in fact, done the complete opposite.  They are soaring high and finding ways to praise and thank God for his goodness.  My brother called to give me Katie’s preliminary diagnosis and the final words of his phone call were, “So send up a few prayers of thanksgiving.”  In a time when they could have crumbled, they held strong and clung to their loving Father.  They are admirable and I just know this story will have an awesome ending because of their faith and love for God.

So that’s it.  This is not the end.  This is the beginning.  This is the beginning of something we have no control over and don’t need to try to control.  God has this.  He has Andy & Katie in the palm of His hand and they are clinging to him as a child should cling to their Father in a time of need.  They are not ignorant, but they are not fearful.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” –Philippians 4:13.  Andy & Katie…they are living out this verse.  Christ has given them the strength to handle this situation and they are making Him so, so proud.

If you’d like to pray for Andy & Katie and follow her story you can visit her Caring Bridge site here: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/katievanzanten