Whitney Cerak

We, the Cerak family, are elated beyond description at Whitney’s return home. It is so much more than we ever imagined three months ago.We would like to restate our plans of not speaking to the media. There is still much on the road to Whitney’s full recovery. We want to thank the media for the respect they have shown of our privacy in this time. And ask that the same courtesy given us would be extended to our family and friends.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

June 20, 2006 "However, I consider my life worth nothing..."

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." Acts:20:24

That is our prayer tonight. That we finish the task that we have been called to do. That all of us that have believed and are saved, never shrink back from spreading the gospel. This event has given a new boldness to share Jesus Christ and because of God's work in all of us, many are coming to know Him as their Savior and Lord. We are not always sure of what direction God wants us to take but we are certain that He wants us to live our entire life to honor and glorify Him. Let's continue to pray that more will know what we know as the truth. The one and only truth. God's truth.

Whitney had that great night sleep that some were praying for and we saw the results in her therapies today. She worked hard and pushed herself as always. Today she did something new again. She walked (or hopped) with the aid of a walker, doing it mostly all herself. Colleen or I walked behind her to make sure she didn't fall, but she walked about 60' with little or no help. WOW! Praising God again! She now is somewhat independant of us in that she can get in and out of bed without our help; and now she can walk to the restroom and back solo as well. We are going to have to guard the door soon so she doesn't start for home too soon.

Her speech therapy is going very well, too. She is getting beyond concrete thoughts and describing things that she sees in pictures; describing in depth too. Thankyou God! Someone said from our church office that they are predicting her return to Gaylord by Alpenfest. Not sure that will happen but with God, we are not ruling anything out! We would be fools to! God is way bigger than I can think or dream...so as the Bible says, all things are possible with God, and so we believe.

One thing to make you aware of so you can pray. In Whitney's healing leg, there is some infection that has set in. When she had her surgery last week, Dr. Ringler took a culture and had it analized. It showed some infection and right now it appears they can handle it with medicine taken by the mouth. We are praying that the antibiotics will clear it all up.

Thankyou from our hearts.

In Christ alone, Whitney's dad


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praise God for the life of both Whitney and Laura!!!!!!
Here is a link to the video tribute produced for Laura VanRyn's memorial service June 4.


7:48 PM  
Anonymous Autumn said...

I definitely will be praying for the infection in her leg, as well as her continued recovery. Praise God she has made it thus far..... she'll be home soon, Hunter ;-)

7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!

I am moved every day that I come to this blog to check on Whitney's progress.

I know neither family except in the family of God.

I rejoice with the Cerak family for the blessing of Whitney and keep the VanRyn family in my constant prayers.

One will probably be never able to express how your faith has moved people across the world. We can do all things thru Christ that strengthens us.

Also, thank you to the poster for the Laura VanRyn tribute link. God needed another angel.

Can anyone tell me the name of the song (and artist) that is playing in the beginning of the video??

Thanks so much and God Bless you all.

7:55 PM  
Anonymous Autumn said...

thank you for sharing the video (to the first poster!)

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ceraks,
I'd like to thank you for taking the time to update us on Whitney's recovery-- I look forward to reading the posts and knowing how I can more specifically lift her as well as your family up in prayer!
I really enjoy each post- but I cannot tell you how much God is working with me through the verse you wrote at the beginning of this post. I am out of my comfort zone this summer and am really missing the strong Christian community at TU as I have a huge mission field in front of me- including some very good old and new friends. This morning was harder than usual, and as I shared things with my parents they reminded me to 'run the race' and keep being a light for him! The beginning of your post echoed my parents advice, and I am so grateful to God for the ways He is constantly nudging my heart... thank you for sharing that verse and encouragement! I needed to hear it again :)
I am one of Whitney's classmates at Taylor, and although we never met directly I knew who Whitney was through other friends. I am looking forward to meeting Whitney back at Taylor in the coming days!
Thanks again for updating and encouraging me to complete the task!
Ashley, TU student '09

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The tribute to Laura made tears roll down my cheeks. Though I didn't know Laura, I always loved seeing her smiling face on campus.And now she is smiling with our Lord and Savior!!!

Whit, I'm praying for you everyday! I can't wait for the day that I'll get to see you again and have you sitting next to me in our psych classes!!! Jenny and I were just talking about that on the phone tonight! I love you!

Cerak Family-your testimony has been so apparent throughout the last few months. God truly has been glorified!!! I'm praying for you guys!
Darcy-TU '09'

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we want to send Whitney a letter, is there an address to send it there or should we just send it to your home address? Thank you! I'm praying for you guys!!!

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can you update with pictures?

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so glad to hear of all the progress Whitney is making on all levels! My family has spent a lot of time over the years waiting for various family members to recover from surgeries, accidents--my mom was a T.U. student when she was in a wreck and nearly killed, and then was in a coma for weeks. So I have been following Whitney's progress daily, and am so glad to hear how well she's doing! I really can see God's hand working on a daily basis.

Tracey (was Jorg)from the Upland youth group

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Spreading" the gospel?! heck, you guys are BEING the gospel!
Like so many others, logging onto your site is one of the last things I do at night, anticipating the next step in Whitney's progress. I so appreciate your willingness to share with us, the general public.
I talk w/God about you all so often. Thanks for listing this very specific request about the infection.
Thanks too for being such humble and gracious examples of what true Christ-followers can be like. There are many of us (fellow Christ-followers) who so distort what it's supposed to look like to follow Him, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of others. But the taste you leave is rich and flavorful and inviting. I should imagine it is even a greater joy to know and interact with you personally.
God's best and most beautiful presence to you all. And Whit, keep up the phenomenal work. You've obviously got drive, girl ~ you truly are an inspiration to many!

much love and prayer from the northwest...

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so very happy for each and every one of you!! It is wonderful how well you are progressing everyday. Whitney you are a true inspiration to us all! I hope and pray that you have a safe and speedy recovery. Hang in there Cerak family, it won't be too much longer and you will have your little girl at home with you!! Love and Hope out of Gas City IN.

1:56 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Dear Ceraks,
This is the Hofstra's from Michigan who now reside in beautiful Sarasota, FL. We met several years ago on the annual "chain of lakes " trip. The Froyslands, are our GREAT friends too and we have journeyed through the death of Whitney, her funeral, the effect it had on their family and your incredible witness as you said good-bye to Whitney. Shelley e-mailed us to pray for you and your family. I was so encouraged by "the peace that passes all understanding" being displayed in your lives, that I shared the e-mail with a friend who's son was in a coma from a crash. She has been so encouraged by you sharing your journey. Her 17 yo son David is doing well, but continues to work on some cognitive hurdles. She reads your blog every day.

We have been on our knees before the Lord on behalf of your family. When I heard she was alive-the first vision I had-was Jesus going to her grave and raising her from the dead!!!! I believe with all of my heart that not one detail of this is a surprise to God. He has prepared you and called you and is working mightily in the lives of thousands because of this!!!

We celebrate with you the resurrection of Whitney. We are happy that you got to spend the day with the Froyslands.

We are connected to Taylor through many alumni-Fahlens, Smiths, and others. So we feel a heart connection. We continue to lift you up-that Whitney would regain 100%, that the rest of you stay healthy, and the Lord would continue to meet all of your needs.


John and Christine Hofstra

2:09 AM  
Blogger dania2004 said...

may god help her and help you all and god bless you all ..
i pray for withney to get better and to walk home again soon ..
Dania and her Mum from Libya

4:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless you all....again, and again, and again.

misc follower from the deep south

5:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Newell, Colleen and family-
The Lord is using your family and your ministry in a big, big way. You have been a tremendous testimony in all of your responses and I am uplifted every day when I read your messages. I praise the Lord for your faithfulness and for Whitney's progress! How exciting for all of you! We are praying for her infection to heal quickly and thankful for her progress so far.

God bless you and your family!

Jill Burke

5:56 AM  
Anonymous Holly Bowman said...

After spending Monday with Whitney I realized that you don't need to invite me to Cerak dinners anymore because Whitney has been laughing at everything you say Newell! I am sad I won't be needed at dinners to make you feel better about your jokes anymore, Newell, but am SO glad Whit has her infectious laugh back!! She was cracking me up:) Love you guys!!

6:05 AM  
Anonymous emily said...

Even though I'm leaving on vacation, you are still in my prayers! I hope the infection gets better soon, and great job walking independently! That's amazing! Go Whitney! I'll miss your updates while I'm gone!

Emily, Kent, OH

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Cerak Family,
I just want to thank you for keeping us updated on Whit's health. My family prays for her everyday. Our 17 month old son can even say Whit "pit" as he calls her.:) We will continue to pray for Whitney's strength, detimination, and patience.
Much Love in Christ alone,
Jen, Jim, Livee, Kinzie, Brody Jeffers

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christine said, "When I heard she was alive-the first vision I had-was Jesus going to her grave and raising her from the dead!!!! I believe with all of my heart that not one detail of this is a surprise to God."

Let's not forget there was another life in that grave thought to be Whitney. The beautiful life of Laura VanRyn. No, God was not surprised but, that doesn't mean He caused all of this to happen. He can use it for His glory but, a fallen man and free will plays a role in all of these circumstances. Laura will never be forgotten and her life is a testimony for Him.

Praying for the infection in Whitney's healing leg to clear up quickly and mend perfectly!
He who dwells in the shelter of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty God. And I will say to the Father, my refuge and my strength.. My God, I put my trust in You!

6:45 AM  
Anonymous a GEFC friend said...

We sure love you guys! We continue to pray for all of you and today specifically for the infection to be healed without any further interventions being needed. I think a slurpee would help Whit! (and the rest of you too!)

There is an artist that is not well known, Allen Asbury; but he has a song on his "Stand" CD, that is called "Somebody's Praying Me Through" that is so powerful. It has very few lyrics other than "somebody's praying me through"... mixed in with testimonies that people are giving about how during their hardest times and darkest days, it was the power of prayer by others that got them through. Please know... there are so many people praying for Whit and all of you as well as for ALL of the families that lost loved ones in this tragic accident. We are all "praying you all through".

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Cerak, I love in your blog's how you start it off with a bible quote. Everyone one of them makes me think, but I especially loved the on you put on there today. I'm praying for Whitney, and you guys of course. Can't wait to see you all!

8:16 AM  
Anonymous TU and Upland alum! said...

Newell and Colleen,
Thank you so much for updating us each and every day. I am so encouraged to read the scripture and your thoughts at the beginning of each entry. I'm praying for Whitney and her recovery. I look forward with you to the day you get to tell us she's going back to Gaylord! Thanks again for keeping us posted!
Anne (Oliver) Smith

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am keeping this situation and all involved in my daily prayers. In Christ alone we stand strong and your faith is prevailing. I still sing the childrens song "This is the day that the Lord has made" and "He has the whole world in his hands" they remind me that child like faith, knowing, believing, and trusting is awesome. May God continue to receive the glory in all that we achieve. I am so happy to hear of all the progress Whit is achieving. hope even after she is home you will continue to update us in her progress and where GOd leads her. Amber in Indiana

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Susan LaGassa, San Jose said...

Josh Groban sings:
You raise me up so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be.
How true this is in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ! Whitney has all of the strength of our Lord available to her. Thank you Ceraks for modeling such a powerful demonstration of faith! I pray the antibiotics make quick work of that infection! I can't wait to read Whitney's testimony when she's ready to share it!
Blessings and Strength to all of you.

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Maureen said...

"We are going to have to guard the door soon so she doesn't start for home too soon."

A few weeks ago you were mourning for your precious daughter and now she has been given back to you.

Praise God!! He is good!!

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Amy McIntyre said...

Goodmorning Ceraks.
I was reading this morning and came across a passage that struck me to share with you and the VanRyns.
Joel 2:12-13
"Even now," declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart," ...Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate.

"Even NOW" - wow.

The family sends their love. And we can't wait to see you home soon!
Keep up the good work, Whit :)

8:56 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

Oh I'm so happy for you guys! I'm surprised you haven't had to guard the door sooner, and that sounds like something that while said jokingly, you probably aren't joking! My life is crazy busy right now, and then I read about Whitney and I realize that while counting coffee beans all day is not that bad. I'll definitely have everyone I know praying for Whitney's infection, and of course her continuing recovery. Sounds like you guys had a great day yesterday!!!! Love & blessings!

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your updates!! Have been praying for Whitney since the accident!! Great to see all the progress she has made, God obviously has a reason for her life! WOW!!!
ALso, continuing to pray for the VanRyn family..thanks for the video clip....it was very emotional but what a joy to know that Laura is with her Heavenly Father!!
Will continue praying for both families!!

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It always amazes me how God can take tragedy and bring about beauty. The Gospel is being spread in very powerful ways. I am a praying sister in Christ from Charlotte, NC who has been impacted by your words and courage. I too viewed the video about Laura and believe that God is speaking comfort to her family. I will continue to lift them up before our Heavenly Father.

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praise the Lord for the life that he gave Laura and the continued life that he gave Whitney! You are such an amazing girl!

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless you, Whit and the Cerak Family. I pray for you and check this blog every day! May you constantly be lifted up with all the prayers, as you continue to live the miracle.

VanRyn family, I now know, after seeing the video, where Laura got her kind and loving spirit from. Your gracious and loving family is an inspiration to us all. You stay in my thoughts and prayers.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Just one of God's children said...

What a glorious day the Lord has given us! Rejoice! This IS the day the Lord has made!

While we are rejoicing for the many blessings that God has given to so many through this tragic accident, for the lives changed that have accepted Him as their personal Savior and for the continued progress for Whitney, let us continue to pray for all of the families that lost loved ones. Laurel Erb just celebrated her 21st birthday 2 days ago with our Heavenly father. We know this is truth...we also know the family is missing her terribly. Please keep them in your prayers! (as with the others!)

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Mara said...

Hi, my name is Mara and I am at student at U-M and I also was wondering if there was somewhere to send Whitney items? I read the previous post that said she is a guster fan and I know Brian from Guster and their new album just came out.
Guster would like to send their new album to her but I didn't know where to send it. I am so glad she is doing better and it made me smile to read that she too loves guster :)

you can reach me at mvenners@umich.edu if you'd like.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I have been reading the blogs from your family as well as others keeping up with Whitney's healing. Such an awesome testimony, God surely has an amazing plan for all of your family!

11:10 AM  
Blogger Coopers-usa said...

To Anonymous:

You asked if anyone knew the name of the song played at the beginning of the Video Tribute to Laura VanRyn. It is called Sixth Sense (or Disappearing Reality) and it is a poem written by Laura's cousin, Matt VanRyn, set to music. It was sung by Lisa VanRyn and her friend, Sarah, on a CD they did together.

To the Ceraks:

Thank you for continuing the blog and keeping us up to date with Whitney's progress! We (the friends and church family of the Van Ryns) have a vested interest in praying for and watching God work in Whitney's life :-). He has done amazing things!

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus rocks!

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is an address for Whitney.

Spectrum Health Continuing Care Center

4118 Kalamazoo Ave SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49508

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see on Taylor University site there is a way to send e-mail condolences to family's but did not see one for the VanRyn's. I know some have been posting notes here hoping they see them. Any suggestions.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Cerek, was Whitney and Laura friends and how is Whitney handling the news of Laura's death?

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Heavenly Father, Please be with Whitney and her family as they go through this healing process. Guide them with your love that they may stay strong and true to your word. Give Whitney all of the streingth she needs to return home and also back to school come this fall. Please heal her body and rid her of the infection in her leg. Heavenly father, please also be with all of the families that were involved in this tragic accident. Keep them in your loving arms, and give them the peace they so deserve. In your name we pray, Amen.

Thank you all for parying this small prayer with me.

To the Cerak family, we also have never met, but reading about Whitneys progress every day makes me feel as close as a friend as anyone. Thank you so much for allowing us into your lives to share this unbelieveable journey with you. I will continue to keep everyone in my prayers. If there is anything at all you may need, please let me know.
in love,
Sheryl G.R. MI

1:16 PM  
Anonymous maria said...

I continue to pray for Whitney and your whole family daily. I will say a special prayer for her leg and the infection. God bless!

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to tell all of you that you have been in my continued thoughts and prayers. What the devil tried to destroy, God has used for a blessing and a miracle. I have been blessed reading on Whit continued healing, and progress she has made. The VanRyn's if reading this know that Laura was a very special person who is everyone's angel watching over all of us. Everyone involved in this unfortunate tragedy continues to be uplifted in prayer by everyone whose lives you, and your family have touched. Whit keep up the good work. I know you are anxious to get out and be home and see Hunter, but remember you have been through much and God will continue to carry you in His mighty arms. He is caring all who lost much that night. God Bless You all.
Someone in Upland is praying for you.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Kathy Erat said...

To the Cerak family,
I am the Secretary at Trinity Lutheran Church in Gaylord and a close friend of Cheryl and Rich Wagner's. (Colleen, I don't know if you remember my daughter Andrea or me.) I just want to let you know that we pray for you and your families in our church every Sunday, and my personal prayers go up for you regularly, as well. What an example of Christian faith you people are! Thank you for your boldness in witnessing, your undying faith, and the inspiration you are to so many. You are having such a widespread impact on the lives of both the strong and the weak, and for me personally, as well. One of my daughters is having grave difficulties with a long-awaited pregnancy, and your story inspires me to have the courage to hope for the miracle. But trusting in our God who is in control of all things is foremost, no matter the outcome. May God continue to bless Whitney, your support of her, and your ministry. May He strengthen you and uphold you.
Kathy Erat

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could anyone tell me when Laura Van Ryn's birthday is? I tried to find her obituary, but I couldn't find it.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Jesus name. Glory be to God! Praise God for the healing. Miraculous healing in Whit's leg and speedy recovery. God Bless You ALL!

2:26 PM  
Blogger Beverly said...

I went to the upper peninsular to volunteer at the Inter-Varsity Camp in May. A young man who graduated from Taylor in 2002 asked me if I had read about the accident. I had, of course. We stopped in Gaylord at the McDonald's before driving on to camp. I had never heard of Gaylord, Michigan before that time.

I have been praying for your family. Just now, reading the verses at the beginning of your posts have been such a blessing. Praying for you all.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Russ Van Dine said...

Wow, what an amazing family you have. I am an old friend, wondering how to renew an old friendship.

My name is Russ, I grew up in Upland. Newell allowed me to work with the Junior High. Later when I went to Taylor, he supported me with his friendship and time.

Newell, I remember one time that I stopped in to your house to talk about what I was struggling with, Coleen was upset because you didn't mow the grass and you were inside talking to me. That day was an important day for me, I don't really remember what I was struggling with, your support helped me make the correct decision!

I was waiting for the correct time to send pictures of my family, I have a 4 year old boy and a 6 year old girl. I guess we have passed that time.

I will send a card and a letter with pictures to your home. I have your address, so look for that soon!

I rejoice with you and your family!
I pray for you all and have been ministered to in the posts.

thank you all very much,
Russ Van Dine

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I praise God with you and pray with you as well.
God is so Good!!!
Keep the good reports of Whitney coming!

May God's richest blessings be yours ALWAYS!!!

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Cerak Family,
Thank you for your updates. I have been reading the updates daily and used the scripture as my daily devotional. I am a Christian, but I have failed to put a daily devotional into my schedule. This blog has helped me to start every morning by speaking with the Lord. I thank you so much for helping me to do that. My relationship with Christ has grown so much.

I can't imagine what it is like to have the world read about your personal family moments. Sometimes, I think it would be a little too awkward to share these moments with strangers.

Please know that we really appreciate your updates. And, I hope you can find some comfort in knowing that many people are strengthening their relationship with Christ by reading your verses and updates.

I will continue to pray for Whitney, your family, the Van Ryn family, Erb family, Smith family and Larson family.

Keep your head up Whitney. You will be home before you know it.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


A link to Laura Van Ryn's obituary.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently link does not quite work, but go to


click on obituary
and they are in order by date. You will find Laura's on April 26.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear 4:43 p.m.

Thanks for the obituary info. I want to be sure to remember Laura and her family on that day.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Coopers-USA

Thank you SO much for responding to my request for the name of the song sung on Laura's video tribute. Matt was apparantly a very talented writer before he went to join his Lord. The poem / song is beautiful and I have had it stuck in my head since watching the video. Lisa and Sarah did a wonderful job singing it as well. Please let the Van Ryn's know that many are still keeping them in their prayers and thinking of them daily. Laura has touched many lives in her life, and death.

To the Ceraks:

May God continue to bless you in Whitney's progress in her recovery and in her faith. Your family has been an inspiration to many. Keep your faith high and your trust in our almighty God solid. He has a plan for us all.

In Christ's Love,
Gina from Texas

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Cerak family,
Thank you So much for sharing your love of our heavenly Father with all. Your blog is such a wonderful tribute to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I have grown So much in Christ since the Taylor tragedy, thank you!!!!I have been and will continue to pray for Whitney, your family , the other families, and the whole Taylor community.

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing turn of events. I am so inspired by your faith and strength. I too will pray for your daughters full recovery and the healing of the van ryn's hearts.

Los Angeles, CA

11:20 PM  

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