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.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Saturday July 29 & Sunday July 30

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm68:19

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. “Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

It has been a very long week being separated from the rest of the family. But yet at week’s end I was able to return to Grand Rapids to see them and feel the joy that comes from our family times together. God is God Almighty and His blessings are a sweet reward every time we open ourselves to Him.

We sat down on Saturday night…went around our little circle and shared how God’s blessings were uplifting and such an encouragement to us all. Whitney shared too and stated that even though her desire is to be farther along in her recovery…she was very thankful for the distance she has come. And that in itself is absolutely a miracle! She is very much aware of her progress and takes comfort in how she is healing inside and out. She is sometimes impatient (who wouldn’t be?) but knows that it will take time to recover fully. I have to say that after not seeing her for a week I noticed the change in her at once. She is much more mobile than before on her legs. She walks everywhere and the swelling is down from where it had been early last week. She is getting up to help with clearing the table at dinner time as well as other things around the house. Her speech is much more spontaneous and her face shows great expression. Praise God!

Whitney has a lot of things going for her…the love of God Almighty, the prayers that are going up on her behalf, her family, her friends, her church family…just to name a few. But there is another thing that helps her improve each day. It is a character issue. She does what she needs to do so she can make the utmost of her recovery. Her attitude is very positive and very willing to work hard. It is incredible for us to watch. She is in total submission to her situation. She is doing what she needs to do whether or not she likes it or not.

Colossions 3:23-24 says: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” She is a great example for us all, especially me. Her submission is illustration of how I ought to be in my relationship with God. Submitting to Him whether I enjoy it or not. But when can submission to God be anything but enjoyable? Even if it costs us a little or a lot, the end result is awesome blessing…more than our storehouse can hold!

In Christ alone, Whitney’s dad

Sunday, July 30, 2006

July 29, 2006

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Whitney was back to her regular schedule, no more neuro testing. Matt was visiting and was able to tag along to a few therapies. They must have seen the playfulness in her eyes and her therapist challenged her to some card games. Whitney beat Matt and her therapist not once, not twice but three times. Her competitive streak continued to the dyna vision and she got to 74 (Newell’s 79 is her next goal). Whitney worked on stairs in PT and is finding balance and speed is a challenge.

We did get a brief review from her neuro psyche exam. We have so much to be thankful for. Her psychologist sat down and explained the results. “The assessment reveals some nicely improving skills in all domains, but demonstrates some continuing challenges.” Processing speed and language skills are areas of deficit. Neurological fatigue had an impact on her scores. (I’d have neuro fatigue after taking tests for 3 days too) As we dig deeper into all these test results we are praying for wisdom for the next step.

We know this is a very familiar verse but we claim it. “ For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

With love,
Whitney’s mom

Friday, July 28, 2006

July 27, 2006

1 John 3:1 "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called Children of God!"

This verse sums up how I feel today, thankful for the love God has shown me and thankful to be a child of God. I hope you can take a moment to let God's love soak in or even better read the book of 1 John (short) and get a deeper glance of God's love.

Whitney finished her neuro-psych exam. We are excited to see the results. Until then she keeps working in each therapy session strengthening her body and mind. I don't have many details today but am thankful for the consistent work each therapist gives Whitney.

In the evening we went to watch Carly in action. She has been helping out with VBS by doing an opening and closing skit. She did great (of course I'm her mom so what else would I say). It is fun to watch your kids no matter if they are 5 years old or 21. It is the best watching the love for God turn into the pratical of serving God.

1 John 2:28 "And now dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming."

With love,
Whitney's mom

Thursday, July 27, 2006

July 26,2006

Psalms 26:2 Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my; heart and mind.

Psalms 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Tests, tests, tests, Whitney took another 2 1/2 hours of tests this morning. She is being such a trooper, not complaining but knowing that these tests are given for a reason and the results are important and will show the areas of strength and areas of deficit.

Her independent lunch of pizza rolls went off without a hitch and was enjoyed by all. Her afternoon therapies were fine except she didn't enjoy the bucket of ice she had to soak her swollen ankle in and the deep muscle massage also was painful.

We had a great dinner with some friends and ended the evening laying on the bed,leg elevated, trying to decide who would make it to the next week on "So you think you can dance".

Whitney has been going through lots of tests - physical and mental to see where she is at, what she needs to work on and her future plans. I want to close with a couple of verses for the tests we all go through every day of our lives. The results of our tests determine our future and God's love, strength and wisdom are yours to help you through whatever test you are going through.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perserveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will recieve the crown of life, that God has promised to those who love him.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-24,28 Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

With love,
Whitney's mom

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

July 25, 2006

I thought the daily successes would be slowing into weekly successes but each day I see a stronger, quicker Whitney. It happens in every parent child relationship, the day you stop wrestling or racing your child because now they can beat you:) Well, Whitney got 71 and beat me in the dynavision. That is such a huge goal reached (not the beating me, even tho she is gloating alittle) but for driving reaction time.

Her road back to gormet cooking continues as she went grocery shopping in occupational therapy and bought pizza rolls, ranch dressing and juice. She will make lunch for a friend tommorrow. In speech therapy,, she was working on note taking. She says she takes good notes but her writing is still slower than normal. By the time she got to physical therapy her ankle was very swollen so they iced, elevated and stretched.

Again today we thanked God for another great doctor. Whitney had an appointment with her physiatrist. I am learning so much, a physiatrist is the doctor that is the head of all the therapists. It is awesome how they all work together thru their different disciplines to achieve common goals for Whitney. We had met the physiatrist the first day at Spectrum but that seems like years ago and my mind was overflowing at that time so it feels like we really met him for the first time today. The therapists each submit reports and he checks Whitney's progress and gives direction for the next few weeks. He checked Whitneys muscle strength, her reflexes, her memory and her walking. He was thrilled with her progress and encouraging her next steps toward full recovery.

We praise God for the therapists, doctors, nurses, administrators, workers that God has brought into our path. Each using their gifts and abilities God has given them to help us and Whitney on her road to recovery in such a positive way.

Romans 12:6-8 "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

1 Cornithians 12:4 "There are diffent kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working but the same God works all of them in all men."

May you use your gifts today to love others so that through you they will feel God's love.

In Christs love,
Whitney's mom

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

July 24,2006

Psalms 100
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful song, know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

What a day! Whitney started her day with 2 hours of a neuro-psych exam.
She will have 2 more mornings of testing to finish this complete test. We are all excited and interested in the outcome. It is important to us to see if she will be ready and able to handle going back to Taylor in the fall.

Whitney got ot go out for lunch with her recreational therapist. I am thiniking I could like that job:)

During occupational therapy she got to show off her cooking skills and got an A+ on Mac and Cheese. When we visited Hope they were asking questions about Whitney wanting to help her get back to who she was before the accident. We jokingly told them that she was a gormet cook and kept her room really clean. Well... we are on the way, mac and cheese today, chicken cordon blue tommorrow.

Whitney does good when she has a goal in front of her. When we came to Hope 3 weeks ago she tried the dynavision, which tests her reaction tme. The goal of 70-80 was given for driving again. (I was glad that I got 70 when I tried) Well today Whitney got 69! She is getting close and it is good to have these tangible goals.

Whitney is walking and that is so exciting to see. Her ankle was alittle swollen at the end of the day but she iced it and elivated it and is ready to go tommorrow.

Tonight ended on a sweet note with a trip to Cold Stone ice cream with friends. We have so much to be thankful for but still our hearts are with the friends and family of the Erbs, Smiths, Felvers, Larsons, and VanRyns as God loves them through this difficult time.

With love,
Whitney's mom

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Saturday July 22 & Sunday July 23

As Whitney's sisters, Sandra and I have decided to talk about the weekend together.

(Sandra)Each weeekend, I have the priveledge of visiting Whitney. My week days are spent working at a Christian camp, something Whitney was planning on doing this summer. Even though my time with Whit is scarce, it is always time cherished. God continues to amaze me in the way He has His healing hand over her. In the short five days I am away, the improvement she makes is very noticable. Each visit brings a more talkative, more alert, more funny, and more herself, Whitney. I can't help but smile just thinking about her and the strides she has made. God is truly so good, and I can't say that enough. This weekend Whit was able to get away and visit with some friends she hasn't seen in a while. It was a great break and a way for her to feel normal again. She even got to experience some "Spring Hill lovin" on Sunday by coming to the morning service. She has said many times of how excited she is to work at this camp sometime in the future, and today we got to see that excitement first hand.

(Carly)The weekends are great for the rest of us because it is special when Sandra comes and tells us about her week at camp. This weekend was extra special for us when we recieved a phone call from Invisible Children.
At Whitney's funeral, a collection of money was put together in Whitney's name for the Invisible Children fund. This week we finally sent the money. It has been amazing to see how many prayers God has answered through this season in our life. Not only has God answered prayers of people we know, but through this money prayers of so many kids in Uganda will be answered. We recieved word that the money will be taken to Uganda today and will be used to help thousands of children in need. It has been a great passion of Sandra, Whitney, and I to help these children. And it has been so humbling to look at what we've gone through and then look at these kids and realize we have gone through nothing. We are honored to send the money many of you have donated in Whitney's name and take part in giving God's justice to others as we are called to do as followers to Christ.
Luke 12:48b, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked"
Isaiah 61:8, "For I, the Lord, love justice."

Friday, July 21, 2006

July 21, 2006 " Therefore put on the full armor..."

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, TO STAND.” Ephesians 6:13

To stand is what we are called to do...to study and put on the protection of God which comes through His word so that when that day comes...not maybe comes... but when it does come you will be able to stand your ground. This has made so many of us stop and think about what we should do when Satan tries to shake us. We are called to stand...not to fade but to put our trust in God to the test. Evil was the cause of all that has happened and we are called not to shrink from it but to stand in the power of God. Let’s stand together and watch how God uses it for His good.

What an awesome day today has been! A couple of things...Whitney was late getting ready for today’s doctors appointments. She showered too long which made for hasty ride to make it on time. We made it to her Neuro Optomologist examination and great news!! Whitney has no damage to her eyes whatsoever (not that there were any worries in this area). This was simply a precaution and it was an absolutely positive result. Praise God!!

The second thing is we made it to her second appointment early. We even got in early!! It was amazing...but even more amazing is the report she received. After more x-rays her Orthopedic Surgeon walked in and said...her elbow looks fine and is healed...her collar bone is fully healed...her ribs are just fine....and oh yeah....her leg is now full weight bearing!! She can walk!!! After almost 3 months Whitney can take off the boot and walk! We were in tears when she stood up on both legs, took 3 steps forward and looked at us with a huge smile and said, “Lets take the stairs.” Praise God. We bow down and worship him. We thanked God again for his gift, we are truly humbled in His presence.

When we got into the van to head back to HOPE, I called Carly and struggled to get out the words to her. She said she had just been praying, asking God to heal her sister to be able to walk. Carly then put a call to Lisa and we left a message for Don VanRyn. Those necklaces they had made and wore on their necks were there till Whitney walked. We again thank God for such an awesome, God believing and God trusting family. You are forever engraved on our hearts. We thank you, from the depths of our hearts. We lift you in prayer to God.

We are so grateful fo God above and we continue to pray for His strength to fill all effected in this event.

In Christ alone, Walking Whitney’s dad

July 21, 2006 "My son, pay attention to what I say..."

“My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life…Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not sway to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:20-27 NIV

These words have been a source of comfort to us. The thing that God sees as wise is not only knowing his word but applying it to our lives. It is not enough to know God’s word; we have to put it into practice daily. He has been teaching us this very lesson in these last couple months. We have found comfort in reading His word each day, but we have found that there is abundant comfort to be found in obeying what we have learned from the scripture. God is using this event to strengthen our faith and deepen our trust in his promises. Oh that we can keep our gaze fixed on him who is directly before us. Our prayer is for each of us to sway neither to the right or left.

Whitney looked great again today! That smile, those dimples from before are definitely back. She continues with her daily routine. Today she cleaned the kitchen as well as straightened up her room. I timed her as she scooted down the hallway in the wheel chair; she really moves along now. The strength in her arms is on the increase…yesterday when getting up into the Suburban she lifted herself up onto the seat.

Her spontaneity is becoming more obvious. By that we are talking about how quickly she responds in conversation. Her facial expression is more and more natural. God continues to strengthen her body and mind. We praise Him for all He is doing.

Tomorrow (Friday), is a big day! Whitney has a couple of doctor’s appointments. One that is most important to her is with her orthopedic surgeon. She finds out if she can weight bear on that left leg.

We appreciate your prayers as Whitney continues on this recovery road.

In Christ alone, Whitney’s dad

Thursday, July 20, 2006

July 20, 2006 "Jesus Christ is the same..."

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14 NIV

“We have this as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19a

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

In this ever changing world we need to put our trust in something that will never change. In our world there are all kinds of calamity. Things change from good to bad or bad to good in a flash. There is so much unrest in the world. Where do we find security and comfort for our souls? When compared to the uncertainty that is going on in this world our situation pales; there are so many others that are in situations more trying than ours Where can we find peace and comfort? We find it in the one thing that has never changed, Jesus Christ. Our strength continues to come from the One who has not nor will ever change. Please find your peace and strength in Him today.

It’s good to be back with my family again. With Whitney doing so well and progressing in her recovery I was able to head home for the weekend. The better Whit gets each, and with her moving more toward independence, it makes it somewhat easier to leave for a short time. But getting back to my family is one of the best feelings, ever!

Whitney looks great! Today was the first time I had seen her wear something other than shorts and a tee shirt. She looked more beautiful in jeans and a cute shirt. I asked her how her therapies have been going. She reported that she improved on the DynaVision from 46 to 60 lights hit. This is a device/method to help with reaction time used by some professional ice hockey goalies to measure vision and reaction times.

She is working in speech therapy with figuring problems out in her head; also with comprehension and writing skills; her motor skills are very good, just sometime not as quick as before. This continues to improve steadily.

This evening we enjoyed chicken wings from LaSeniorita’s in Gaylord. These are a favorite of Whitney’s. Then we surprised Sandra, Terra and Matt by showing up at Spring Hill…at Copper Country. It was “Wednesday Night Live”. Whitney loved watching saying that next summer she wanted to be a counselor.

Watching Whitney tonight again brought us to our knees thanking God for His gift. We pray constantly for those whose hearts are still aching, for those who feel that hole in their lives. We revel in Whitney’s amazing recovery yet are daily aware of the pain of our dear friends in Christ.

Continue to pray for all.

In Christ alone, Whitney’s dad

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

July 19,2006

Psalms 7:9a
"O Righteous God, who searches minds and hearts."
Luke 10:27
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself."

Today was a very interesting day. Whitney had her normal morning routine with therapies and then after lunch we met with a neuro-psychiatrist. Again we feel so lucky to have the chance to meet and work with such high caliber professionals. I feel we both learned so much. I took some notes during the meeting so I could share the info with Newell and Carly. My favorite was when the doctor was showing us a model of a brain and explaining the functions of the different parts. He showed us the grey matter and and the white matter. The grey matter is for facts - reading, writing and arithmetic. The white matter is your passions - religion, sex and politics. He then said people think they ask Jesus into their hearts but they are really asking him into their white matter. He made us laugh. I am going to cover all my bases and love God with my heart, soul and mind. (Matt. 22:37) We learned so much more and are encouraged for the progress Whitney has made and will make in the next few months.

Whitney had a few more therapies after the meeting and then we went out for a drive to enjoy the beautiful evening. Carly stays overnight with her intern family on Tuesday nights. She enjoys Tuesday nights as she has Bible study with the other interns then they relax and do fun things to get to know each other better. She is enjoying the experience and learning alot too. Whitney had the night to herself also. I left her chatting on the phone to a friend. It is a fun evening for her to catch up with some friends.

Thanks for your continued prayers. We never take them for granted - instead we covet them. Continue to remember the Smiths, Felvers, Larsons, Erbs and VanRyns.

Love, Whitney's mom

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

July 18, 2006

Job 37:1-5
At this my heart pounds and leaps from its place. Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice, the the rumbling that comes from his mouth. He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth. After that comes the sound of the roar; he thunders with his majestic voice. When his voice resounds, he holds nothing back. Gods voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.

Back to work - it's Monday. Whitney asked her team of therapists if she could cut down on her rest time during the day so she could build endurance, so today was her first full day with no built in rest breaks. She wants so badly to get stronger but we have learned not only does her body need rest to heal but her brain also needs the rest to heal. We continue to learn how "fearfully and wonderfully"(Psalms 139:14)God made us and how Whitney's body and brain are healing.

Whitney worked on stretching her elbow for range of movement . To work with her fine moter skills she is using her artistic side with some craft projects. Whitney is also starting to work on some back to school skills so they had her looking up phone numbers and addresses. To get her out into the community, she actually got to go to a museum. By the time we leave here, Whitney will probably be smarter and more well rounded than before the accident:)

After therapy was over we ate dinner and watched a little TV to relax then believe it or not we went shopping. Whitney has been living in gym shorts and T shirts since the accident and it was time to get a new pair of jeans and a couple of shirts. For those of you who know Whitney, know that she doesn't like to shop,so she gave us an hour and we were sucessful and she looks GREAT.

The evening ended with a magnificent display of Gods power in nature with a lightning and thunder storm. The curtian was open so the girls could see the storm as they fell asleep. It is great to love, serve, be protected by such a powerful God.

Love, Whitney's mom

Monday, July 17, 2006

July 17, 2006

Psalms 119:103
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.

This was part of the scripture used today in church. How true it is that joy comes from reading, knowing and meditating on Gods perfect word.

Carly and I got up early to send off Sandra and Matt. We even had the motivation to play some tennis(she beat me) before church. After church Carly wanted some quiet time alone so Whitney and I went out for lunch together.It was fun to have time alone with Whitney. Sundays wouldn't be complete with out a nap so.... We had a fun evening with a visit with friends. Another great day. Carly took Whitney back to Hope and "hopefully" got to bed early to be ready for the week ahead.

Love, Whit's mom

July 16,2006

Psalms 33:18-22
But the eyes of the Lord areon those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep him alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shieild. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

The phrase unfailing love means so much to me and it means so much to God because He used it 27 times in the Psalms alone. I'm so thankful for his unfailing love because mine has gone thur periods of fading or divided love but Gods love toward me has been constant. It is what we all desire and what God desires to give us, his children, his unfailing love. I look at Whitney with a mothers love and it amazes me that Gods love is so much deeper than our earthly love.

Whitney had a great Saturday. We were able to get away and Sandra and Matt were able to join us on their day off from Spring Hill. Saturday started Whitneys favorite way by sleeping in. A Saturday morning tradition continues of homemade(out of the box) blueberry muffins. The smell wakes them up with a smile. It was a really warm day so we were able to hang out at a pool for a couple of hours. We have to be careful not to get too much sun as the medication Whitney is on makes her sensitive to the sun. We got enough to give us a little color and make us look healthy. We orderd pizza then went to see "Pirates of the Carribean". Whitney ended her night laying on the grass looking up at the stars. Perfect ending to a fun day.

Love, Whit's mom

Saturday, July 15, 2006

July 15, 2006

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior." 2 Samuel 2-3 NIV

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Whitney’s day began like many of her recent mornings. Up and at it about 8 am and going through her therapies. We joined her at noon for lunch in the dinning area. Then at 1 pm we joined with the rest of Whit’s therapy team for the evaluation.

I have to say from the start that the people here at HOPE are some of the finest. We thank God for Whitney’s care being entrusted to them. As we sat around the table each therapist gave their evaluation of Whit’s progress, followed by a recommendation of the entire team.

Whitney has made tremendous progress! That we are even thinking it is possible for her to get back into the swing of college in the fall is absolutely remarkable. Yet there are some vital areas that she needs more improvement in before heading home. So the recommendation is that she will be staying in GR for a while longer. While we were hoping for something different we continue to trust God in all of this. Physically she pushes hard and is stronger. Her mental wellness is so key here. Over the next period of time, we are praying that through therapy her endurance as well as speed in processing and speed in reflexes will improve more.

We will pray for her recovery still and trust the people at HOPE and God himself for the timing of it. We are thanking God for his moving in Whitney’s recovery. It truly has been astounding! We will keep trusting Him. Know we continue to cherish your prayers.

In Christ alone, Whitney’s family

Friday, July 14, 2006

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn…Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:3-7

We have been relearning these lessons as we have gone through these days here in GR. God calls us to trust in him, to delight in him, to commit our ways to him and then to be still before him and wait patiently.

Whitney is getting back into her independence mode more and more. She is doing all her preparations for the day: showering, dressing, getting to therapies, using the kitchen in her room, meeting with her neuropsychologist and doing a great job of it all. Her strength and endurance increase a little more each day; she is going to be able to beat me in arm wrestling the way she is bulking up.

She is working hard in speech and occupational therapies. Her speed at processing improves slowly, but it is still improvement. The same thing is true about her reaction speed.

She has an evaluation tomorrow. We are praying for a good report, Whitney wants to be going home but we are extremely happy and thankful to God for the progress she has obviously made already. We again are leaning heavily on those here at Hope Rehabilitation who are expertise in this area of traumatic brain injury.

One absolutely awesome piece of news to share with you… NO MORE STOMACH NEEDLES! Whitney got the word this evening, so as of tonight she does not have to endure that anymore. She had a huge smile on her face – all dimples showing – when she gave us the news. One more step in the process…Praise God!

We continue in our prayers for you and for the families of all involved in this accident. May God keep you in His care, may His comfort surround you and His strength uphold you.

In Christ alone, Whitney’s dad

Thursday, July 13, 2006

July 13, 2006

“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simple hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.” Psalm 116:5-6

Today was a quiet day – a day that we felt the normalcy of a routine. Whitney did take another step toward independence by spending her first night alone. Carly was not able to spend the night and I offered but Whitney said she would be just fine and she was.

Whitney had her morning therapies and had lunch with Newell and me. She has her dad wrapped around her little finger. When she mentioned that she wanted something different for lunch, he ran out and got it for her. She then had her afternoon therapies while Newell and I had meetings.

We all had a short rest as we waited for Carly to come back from her day of interning. Carly has had a few busy days so dinner was fun time of catching up. We talked about home and missing “Alpenfest” back in Gaylord and how quickly each day goes by. We are thankful for these “normal” days… a chance to regroup. A chance to regroup and at the end of the day say “This is the day the Lord has made – let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

With love – Whitney’s mom

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

July 12, 2006 "In the morning..."

“In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3 NIV

“I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:147 NIV

“I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worth of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:1-3 NIV

Our hope is in the Lord. He hears us when we pray to Him. He is faithful and will remain so forever. We find such peace at the feet of Jesus, we find comfort at the feet of Jesus and we find hope beyond description at His feet. He is our strength; it is certainly not we ourselves, so we praise Him again this day for all He has done.

Today Whitney was on her own for most of the day. She did a fine job of ordering her day. She is fast becoming a dynamo when it comes to hopping around. This Tuesday morning she went almost 400’, then in the afternoon tacked on another 200’+. So, strength and endurance keep improving.

For her occupational therapy time she was given the tasks of cleaning her bathroom area, doing her laundry, and straightening up her room. She must have completed the jobs in a good fashion because one of her therapists said to us, “You must have taught her well…most people complain but she didn’t…she just went right to work and got it done.” Awesome job Whitney! We thank God she remembered, her room might be clean at home whenever we get back.

After a short nap, dinner was delicious – burritos and ice cream! Thanks so much for the dinner. Then opened and read some cards from well wishers followed by an early exit to bed. She put in another long day with all her therapies and it tired her. By the end of the day her voice was softer but her spirits were high.

We give thanks to God for each day’s progress. He continues to give Whitney strength; He continues to help Whitney get those files back in order. God gives us what we need each day. I know that without Him we would be struggling to make it through each day.

We pray for His guidance and wisdom both for now and the future. Spending time with God each day has been so sweet, we treasure the time. Spend time with Him today. Pray for those in need and ask Him for strength for yourself today.

In Christ alone, Whitney’s family

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

July 11, 2006 "He who conceals his sins does not prosper..."

“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

“Whoever is thirsty, let Him come; and whoever wishes let him take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17

What amazing love God has for all! We simply need to confess our sins, believe in Christ’s work on the cross and His resurrection, and one day join with those who have gone on before us. As we pray for the other families of this event, we are filled with comfort because we know their loved ones are Christians and in Heaven with Christ today!
“The best of life on earth is a glimpse of Heaven; the worst of life on earth is a glimpse of hell. For Christians, this present life is the closest they will come to hell. For unbelievers, it is the closest they will come to Heaven.” (Randy Alcorn from his book, “Heaven”)
Please, don’t guess where you will spend eternity…KNOW it for certain. There is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ and his redemptive work.
“But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jesus Christ from His Book, “The Bible”).

Monday…it is amazing! The time seems to go so slowly and yet it flies by at the same time. To remember what Whitney was like 2 ½ months ago and then to see her today…absolutely amazing! God is doing some wondrous things in her body. After a good night of sleep Whitney went to her therapies. She reminds us she is just fine and doesn’t need the therapy and then wheels herself off to do her daily work. She continues to work very hard even though she feels there is no need.

This evening the professor, from TU, who is keeping tabs on Carly through her internship, came by. Whitney had a very pleasant conversation with him and Carly. Her spontaneity and comfort in conversation improve daily. Her ankle is loosening up as well, and her leg looks better…the scars are fading…the swelling is all gone…in physical therapy they work her leg to regain muscle tone. She lifts some light weight with her left arm to give it strength and to stretch out the elbow.

Our doctor from Spectrum called today with news of Whit’s CAT scan. The news is all good!!! Thank you, God! All is fine and normal.

The day is over…Carly and Whitney are asleep by now…tomorrow is another day. Praise be to God!

In Christ alone, Whit’s dad

Monday, July 10, 2006

July 10, 2006 "Set your hearts on things above..."

“Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2 NIV

As we have been reading, God has brought to us some scriptures that are familiar which have reminded us about our place here on this earth. We are so thankful for being able to be with Whitney and yet when we thought she was in Heaven we were filled with such great comfort. As we continue to watch her progress we sometimes feel we have taken our eyes off the Heavenly realm. God has shown us of what we should be looking toward and it is not located on this earth. It is with Him in Heaven. So we want to set our minds on things above and be working to make that our daily thought and let that effect how we live our lives each day.

Saturday was a beautiful day! After her college habit of deep sleep till almost noon, we left for a lake. This time no boating but lying in the sun and sitting in the water. Whitney has not had the opportunity to enjoy the sun much so this was a great step forward for her. She really likes the color on her face. That night we went out for ice cream. We had a nice evening sitting, talking, and eating our treats. It is good to see Whitney enjoying more of the things that were once a part of her life.

Sunday we joined with other brothers and sisters in Christ, for church. It is so encouraging for us to sit together with fellow believers and praise and worship the maker of Heaven and earth. To observe Whit singing in her soft voice is definitely a blessing! We spent the afternoon eating at a great restaurant by the water. Whitney definitely likes steak! We were able to sit at outside tables…so steak and sun…what a great combination for Whitney.

Then a return to Hope where two of Whitney’s very good friends visited for the evening. Emily and Amy bring that smile to Whitney’s face. The events of the weekend are good therapy for Whitney, although it does tire her out. She increases in her strength and endurance each day but still has not fully recovered fully. This will take more time and rest.

Each day we thank God for the blessing of Whitney and her continued life here on earth. It reminds us each time we look at her to pray for the VanRyns. We pray for the Erbs, Smiths, Larsons and Felvers. We pray for their strength and for God to shore up their faith as He has done. We pray that the aches you feel are softened in the knowledge you have knowing where your loved ones are…they are not lost…you know where they are…they are with Christ. That is the destination for all who love God and are committed to Him. Praise God for the upcoming reunion!

We keep in our prayers and thoughts as well, Vicki, Connie and Michelle. We pray for your recovery, health and strength.

In Christ alone, Whitney’s dad

Saturday, July 08, 2006

July 7, 2006 "He Himself bore our sins..."

“He Himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 NIV

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” Psalm 95:7b-8a

Today I have been reminded by the Holy Spirit to lay my burdens down at Jesus’ feet. We have been burdened, but as we look around we understand fully that our situation is small when compared with so many. So many are in situations that are as trying and many who are sagging under the load of harder situations. People dealing with severe physical, mental, emotional, financial, relational, and spiritual needs as well as the loss of loved ones. It is so important to hear and know that Christ knows and understands. He asks us to lay down all these trials and concerns at His feet. He gives strength, He gives hope, and He gives wisdom as we trust His word. There is still a burden but with God they are lighter. Be free of your burden of sin that holds us down. He paid the price on the cross. Come to Him – experience His promises.

Whitney had a long day yesterday, but she was smiling throughout it. Physically, she gets stronger. She walked (hopping still) over 300’ which truly impressed me. Her voice is getting stronger and louder! It does get softer by days end but she is getting better.

After therapies a friend from Olson Hall at TU came by before we loaded up Whitney and took off again for the weekend. Whit enjoys these weekends away – she continues to long for home with Hunter and Taylor (the cat) – but she does like getting away. Some hometown friends brought some needed things to us and visited. It was so much fun to sit and listen to them walk down memory lane with Whitney. She was all smiles and laughs.

She is enjoying herself right now – sleeping in – it is now 11:15 am. Old habits are hard to change, but it is good and she deserves and needs it!

It is another beautiful sunrise here in Grand Rapids with promise of a good day. We count our blessings each day.

In Christ alone, the Ceraks

Friday, July 07, 2006

July 6, 2006 "And whatever you do..."

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 NIV

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

As we watch Whitney work hard each day in her therapies we are seeing this in action. Whitney is committed to Jesus Christ, for which we will be eternally thankful. And as we listen to her pray for those involved in the accident as well as those who don’t know her Christ as Savior and Lord, we remember that this is not for her praise or glory. It is for God’s glory alone! Her desire is to serve him with her life. Glory be to God for what He has done and is doing through all of this! I know we have said this before but it is so important to say it again and again…to GOD be the glory!

Thursday was another early morning …no sleeping in today. Back to the hospital for a follow up cat scan. The same nurse did the scan before and commented to Whitney that she looked so much different than the last time. The nurse said it was nice to see her out of her neck brace and moving about by herself. Whitney smiled till the nurse then said she had to put an IV in her arm so they could give her some solution to take the CAT scan. This has not been a favorite of hers but true to form her reaction was simply, “ouch”.

After the appointment we had a little time before Whitney’s therapy started. We drove to Subway for some lunch. Whit’s appetite is good and she was plenty hungry so she ate it all up in almost one gulp!

Back at Hope we had some time to talk. Whitney is becoming more spontaneous as time goes on. She talked about home and college and wanting to be there soon. The nurse came in and delivered some news about the belly shot – 2 more weeks…ugh! Later I was explaining why the doctor’s had decided that, and Whitney stopped me and asked, “But what do you say, dad?” To which I said I didn’t know. She then replied, “But didn’t you stay at a Holiday Inn last night?” We both laughed at her quick wit.

She spent the afternoon in her therapies and returned to her room tired. Needing the rest she went to bed early with dreams of Saturday in her head. She is doing so well and we are continually thanking God for His grace and mercy.

In Christ alone, Whitney’s dad

Thursday, July 06, 2006

July 5, 2006 "Whether you turn to the right or to the left..."

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice from behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16

What a great passage of scripture God led me to this morning. We have been seeking His wisdom and understanding in all of this. He is leading us in ways that are totally unfamiliar to us but He is making the rough places smooth. He is going before us constantly and we praise His name for this. He is not forsaking us or any one who is a child of His. But we need to have accepted His gift to us through His son Jesus Christ in order to have heard that voice behind us. Please, please, please…you can have this guidance from the Lord if you accept this gift today.

We all got up Wednesday morning and dressed for the doctor’s appointment. This morning was the appointment to see the infectious disease doctor about Whitney’s leg infection that was found during her operation in May. Praise God all is going well! The lab results showed everything to be fine. Whit will remain on antibiotics for a few more months to be absolutely certain.

Then back to Hope Network for therapy. Whit wants to do these on her own so we can only, at this time, report what she tells us. She told us she was playing a card game called…’Speed’…Whit said she didn’t want to brag but that she won 2 out of 3 times. Whitney then showed her therapist a different version of the game and won again! Her thought processes are improving more and more…thank God! She still won’t play a family favorite…’Clue’…because she says she stinks at it. But maybe soon we will be able to have some family laughs over a game of ‘who-done-it’.

Whitney was pretty tired from her big day July 4th celebration, so she went to bed some time after dinner. Her spirits remain up…she just wants to go home so badly. We pray for her patience as well as our own. We want her to recover before we make any more moves.

We know you are, but please continue to pray for the families of all involved and that God will continue to move mightily as He has been doing. There are so many to pray for…let us keep kneeling before the Lord, our God, our maker.

In Christ alone, Whitney’s dad

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

July 5, 2006 "Because of the Lord's great love..."

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” Lamentations 3:22-24 NIV

God is ever faithful and we wait on Him for our hope is in Him. And His compassions are new every day, what God has done for us in the past He will do for us again and again. He continues to uphold us in His grip. Even in the midst of our strife and trials He is with us. Praise be to God, the creator of heaven and earth!!

We are not great parents by any means. We have stumbled along as many have. We trust God and His word! And while we have made and will make mistakes and sin, the one thing we ought always try to avoid is taking our eyes off Him. With the Holy Spirit’s help we can keep looking up to God. We will continue to experience His forgiveness and mercy as we move along.

Holidays are great! You get to sleep in and change your routine for a few hours or maybe a few days. Today Whitney got to do one of her favorite things again…sleep in. When she did get up we had a great family breakfast time together. After some more rest we had a visit from Jen who was on her way to Chicago. Then we loaded up for a fireworks show. Our very good friends took us out on their boat at Grand Haven. Whitney’s anxious anticipation was satisfied with a spectacular show. We were able to get the front row on the river (if you can do that in a boat) and it seemed as though we were right under the fireworks. Feeling every whoosh and explosion as they shot up and covered us in a bright colored glow was an awesome experience. Whit’s smile was the best glow to look at and we counted our blessing again and again. It did turn into a very late night before we got back, but according to Whitney, “It was worth it.” It was a fabulous 4th of July, one we will not forget. It was good to see her enjoy herself…it was good to see her smile and eat caramel popcorn.

We pray you had a good holiday. We are finding that just another day is a good day – holidays or not. Another day here on earth is another day to live for Christ and to praise Him.

You are in our prayers

In Christ alone, Whitney’s dad

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

July 4, 2006

"As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect."
2 Samuel 22:31-33

It is Monday, meaning back to work. Whitney has a full schedule for the next two weeks. Her psychologist called it a window of opportunity for her where she is able to have all her rehab under one roof. We are not going to be able to have as much detail on her rehabs as Whitney is wanting a little of her independence back. She was never a momma’s girl to begin with so she is ready for us to stoop hovering over her. Part of me is sad because I learned so much watching the therapists work (the teacher side of me), and I loved to see the improvements each session but the other part is happy because she is gaining her confidence and independence. For the next two weeks Whitney will have at least 6 hours of therapy each day. On Friday July 14th we will have her two week evaluation, a big meeting with all the therapists and doctors that will tell us where she is at in rehab and how much longer we need to stay. Whitney is working hard each day toward that goal. She is enjoying getting to know her therapists as it is a one on one session with each.

Because of the holiday tomorrow we were able to take Whitney away for the evening. We found a gas grill on the deck and I actually cooked a real meal. It felt so normal (except missing Sandra) sitting and laughing around the dinner table. Carly got Whitney laughing so hard that I thought I was going to have to perform the Himleck. After dinner a couple of Taylor friends came and it again felt so good to hear laughter and the girls talking. Whitney is looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow and of course the fireworks.
Hope you all have a great holiday with your families and friends.

Whitney’s mom

Monday, July 03, 2006

July 3.2006

July 3, 2006

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Exodus 20:8

Sundays are great days. For many people they mean sleeping in, a family day, resting and preparing for the week ahead. Sundays mean that to us but most of all it means church going to God’s house and worshipping him. Some people think they don’t need to go to church but I personally disagree. Church gives you a spiritual family, friends, people to walk with you in good times and people to love you in hard times.

So guess what we got to do today for the first time since Easter? We got to go to church as a family. We couldn’t make it to our home church but that is another benefit of knowing God as our Father, we have lots of brothers and sisters in Christ. We started the morning off by saying good bye to Sandra and Matt and praying for another great week of service at Spring Hill camp and then we went to church.

After church we went for a boat ride with our friends. The doctor wasn’t sure how Whitney would do on the water but she enjoyed the day, trying to catch a few rays in between the clouds. She is a little behind in her tan this summer.

Even though it was an easy afternoon, the ride back was quiet as we all dozed off as Newell drove us home. Sunday wouldn’t be complete without a nap so we completed the day. Whitney and Carly went back to Hope in the evening to get ready for the week ahead.

We miss our church family in Gaylord and look forward to worshiping and fellowshipping with you. We are thankful for the brothers and sisters in the faith we can worship with till then. I want to close with a prayer from Paul for his brothers in Ephesus. “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know his love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through out all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-20

With love, Whitney’s mom

Sunday, July 02, 2006

July 2, 2006 "Not that we are competent in ourselves..."

"Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." 2Cor. 3:5
"Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." Psalm 127:1

We are so thankful that God is our Lord and that He is watching over us. We are nothing apart from Him. We have no super power or strength...our strength comes only from Him and His Holy Spirit who is within us. ALL praise is due HIM!!

Whitney has been enjoying a lot of good sleep for which not only is she thankful but so are we. This morning both she and her sister were able to sleep in. Whit has been waiting to be able to do this for a week and she savored every minute of it. We were able to take her away for the weekend again! So together we have enjoyed a very relaxing day.

After a lazy morning and eating a good breakfast…it was stretch those joints time, to which Whit rose to the challenge. She is the one that normally says, “Hey, can we work on my ankle or can we work on my elbow?” She doesn’t always like the stretch due to the pain but she knows it is a good thing for her. She keeps a stiff upper lip and counts along. Following that there were devotions…and getting ready for the day out. Today we had the chance to go and visit with some of Matt’s family. The drive wasn’t too long and the day turned out to be great…sun shining and the wind died down some. She was driven around on a golf cart at this Christian camp Matt attended in his formative years. She really enjoyed herself as did we all. Her spirits are very good right now…not having to think of therapy and a little distraction were just what she needed. The one thing she wanted to see was fire works but due to the wind it didn’t happen. Maybe Tuesday!

The family enjoyed the day outside after having been inside for much of the last several weeks. It is so good to see Whit smiling and having some fun. Then back to our haven of rest. After devouring some strawberry shortcake, for the second day, followed by a root beer float…and then some more stretching…all are fast asleep.

We are hope you get to enjoy the holiday. The fourth has always been a great time for us, we all like the fireworks. As we headed back from our visit away, the sun was setting in the west. It was spectacular! The clouds covered part of the sun as we looked in the sky…there were rays of sunlight shining out past the clouds, as we looked we remembered this was our first (seeing a sunset with Whitney) since the accident. It brought tears of joy to my eyes and also tears of sorrow for those who do not get to see it with their loved ones on this side of Glory. But what a sunset must be on the other side of Glory!! And I look with great anticipation to that first sunset and sunrise with God Himself, that some of our number have already gotten to enjoy.

In Christ alone, Whit’s family

Saturday, July 01, 2006

July 1, 2006 "Let us hold unswervingly..."

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is FAITHFUL."
Heb. 10:23

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words can not express." Romans 8:26

"Pray continually" I Thess. 5:17

We were reminded this morning of our need to pray continually. Not for only the few that have been a part of all of these events...but for all the Brothers and Sisters in the Lord and to pray on behalf of those who do not know Christ as Savior and Lord. I am amazed at the number of people that are praying for Whitney and the
VanRyns, the Erbs, the Smiths, the Larsons and the Felvers...as well as for Vicki, and Connie, and Michelle. We can do much if we continue to unite in prayer for not only these but for all those that burden our hearts. God will do so much more if we come together and lift up all in prayer. We will continue to be amazed at what God will do if we pray. So please...PRAY.

Yesterday was one more good day for Whitney. Praise God!!
She had a great night's sleep but was somewhat disappointed that she couldn't sleep in as did her sister, Carly. Whitney is getting some good order back into her brain functions. This Friday morning she showered totally without help (which has meant so much to her)...then with her schedule for the day in her lap, she wheeled off to her first therapy...this all on her own!!

She is beginning to be herself in the area of her desire for independance. She even let us know that she didnt need us in therapy with her. What a joy to see and hear!!
With aid of a map, that she got off the computer, she had to figure out a route to a specific place...then direct her therapists there and do some shopping. She did a great job, we are told, and did it even though she is not really a shopper at heart.
In the afternoon...more stretching stiff joints; working on muscles tone, hopping more than 100' again; and speech therapy.

A few close friends of ours came to visit...some chocolate covered strawberries and our mail from Gaylord came with them. Whitney was gracious, sweet and glad to see them. Then off for another weekend away! She enjoyed herself last night talking and staying up late.

We thank God today for your prayers. And once more we are honored to join you in prayer for so many others in need. In need physically, emotionally, but most importantly...spiritually! Let us be found faithful by God!! Unite in prayer for ALL!

In Christ alone...Whit's dad