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, August 08, 2006

August 7, 2006

"Let the peace of Chirst rule in your heart." Colossians 3:15

Peace - how can you have peace in the middle of a busy schedule, change, planning for the unknown future? Only one way, to allow the Prince of Peace to govern your life. I can't describe the peace I felt as I sat and listed how God has been with us (really two steps ahead of us) this summer. Not the best planner could of organized and ordered how everything has played out for everyone of our family. The list filled my page. Another piece of the puzzle just that filled in was signing Whitney up for classes. We had chosen 3 classes (6 hours total) and they were all available, perfect time of the day (not 8AM) and perfect for working with Whitneys rehab schedule. The classes are all ones Whitney is excited to take. Carly is also excited because they had planned to take a golf class together this fall and that class fits perfectly into Whitneys schedule. Let's hope all those years working on the golf course will pay off. I dont know how great their game will be but I do know they will have a great time.

Whitney's days in rehab are now focusing on the goal of preparing her for back to school. Work is easier when you have a goal to work toward and this one is getting so close it is exciting.

Whitney's day had a fun twist when some Gaylord friends came to Grand Rapids to school shop (no mall in Gaylord) It was fun to visit with them. She ended the evening going to a movie then back to her roommates house for warm homemade cookies.

We thank God as he continues to fit each piece of our puzzle in place. "May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at ALL times and in EVERY way. The Lord be with all of you." 2 Thessalonians 3:16

With love,
Whitney's mom

105 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Glad Whitney was able to get in 6 Credits...How exciting for her. I am also glad that she is getting to take the Golf Course with her Sister! Keep up the Great job.
Love and Laughter,
Annie Horsky
Long Island, NY

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that Whitney was able to find classes that fit for her! Awesome! Even more awesome, a class with her sister! I can only imagine how excited she is to return to school.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

You cannot imagine how today's post spoke to my heart and encouraged me. I'm up for a promotion and my interview is today. I need this for many career-related reasons, and one MAJOR life-related reason that ties back into a major stress in my life. Colleen, what you said has just made my day. Thank you. I love you all so much.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe this is all happening so fast. It's so amazing that God can throw something at us, and all he really wants is for us to throw it right back and say I need your help! I feel like your whole family has said we don't know what to do, so here You go God..we offer all of this up to You, and He gladly takes care of it. I know that Whitney will do great in whatever she decides to do, and I am so proud to say I know a family that would put all of their trust in Him. Love you guys!

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God has deeply blessed ME through the visibility of working in YOUR lives.

Continuing to pray-
a "friend" in Marion, IN

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, powerful words concerning peace.
Thanks,
Believer in Texas

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is such fantastic news. Thank you for keeping us updated on all that is happening with your precious family. God hears His people when they pray.
God is so good!

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

COlleen - God is so awesome. It's so wonderfully fantastic to see how He rewards us, when we honor, praise and give Him thanks. Sometimes when things happen in life and you look back, there's a feeling of relief that God was in control. Your story is proof that we MUST go to Him for EVERYTHING!!!!

"The Lord is my rock and my
fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength; in whom I
will trust;
My shield and the horn of my
salvation, my stronghold."
- Psalm 18:2 (NKJV)

Be Blessed!!! Love from,
MdE in North Port, Florida

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's awesome that Whit was able to find the perfect classes. God is so good. Just wanted to let you know my campers (Forcey Day Camp) prayed for you guys today during bible study time.

TU '08

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some verses that came to mind to me today were those from Hebrews 12:1-3 and I just thought I'd share (Whitney and Carly, I'm sure you'll remember studying these if you had Phil for intro to CED!)

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

God has had this whole summer marked out for us all. Jesus knew exactly what was coming next in each of our lives and he's been there to carry us through. Keep fixing your eyes on him so you can keep on running! Thanks so much for all your encouragement! We're still praying for your family as well as the VanRyns, Smiths, Erbs, Larsons and Felvers plus Vicki, Connie and Michelle. We love you guys dearly!!

*And Whit, if you're still thinking about it come out for the lacrosse team when you feel up to it!!

- a fellow Taylor student

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Auutmn T. said...

I'm so excited that Whitney is getting to attend Taylor this fall. Though I don't go there, I hear amazing stories from my friends that do attend there. I know she'll be taken good care of. :-) And you can bet that all of us will continue to pray for her healing, as I'm sure it will come more quickly surrounded by friends. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! So happy for you.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ceraks, Each day I read your blog it is truly amazing but even more amazing is when one sits and thinks of the whole scheme of things as you have today, God is a perfect planner. And if only we would all let God be our planner oh, how glorious our days would be!

I know there have been comments before asking to hear from Whitney so here it goes again. It would be awesome to hear from Whitney! :)

Bless you all for your generous sharing of God's work in all your lives through the past few months. Praises to you for being faithful!

My prayer is that more people would know the peace that comes from knowing and understanding God's plan. There are so many who don't have the peace when they have the loss of a loved one or the peace of letting God lead.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whit and Carly,
When the accident first happend I was thinking on Carly's perspecitive a lot, things like wow she's not going to have a sister anymore someone she that has always been ther and grown up with. Now all is well and it has made me think of how I will cherish every moment with my sister! Thank you for that, God Bless and keep up the good work Whit and Family:).

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Cerak family, friends and readers of this site. Please except my apology for stating Whitney going back to school so soon might not be good. I was actually stating and quoting some one elses opinion, which I should not have done. My friends mom works in the trauma center of a large hospital in Chicago, and I was quoting her, but I guess she is not an expert. Please forgive me as I did not mean to offend anyone. I will continue to keep Whitney in my prayers and her family as well. I am so sorry! God is good.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ceraks,

I am going through some difficult health problems at the moment and your writings are always an encouragement and uplift to me.
God bless you as you move forward in your miracles. I will seek to do the same.
Keep looking up1
Jim

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You didn't say anything wrong, anonymous 5:48. There are many concerns - we just need to pray about them and not verbalize them, as people take things the wrong way. I understand you perfectly! Only people that have been around TBI understand. Let's just keep praying and trusting. We have watched God do mighty things this summer - and HE WILL CONTINUE TO DO THAT!!!!

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for stopping me in my tracks! My husband and I are both teachers getting ready to start a new school year. We are also in the process of selling a home and closing on a new one. Our life is crazy right now...no one will work with us and we feel like we are going to pull our hair out. Unfortunately our two little ones don't understand the stress and feel neglected.
Thank you for making me stop and take a breath and to realize that someone else needs to be in control right now. I definitely need peace!
I have followed your blog since the beginning! You truly are making people stop and rethink their lives, actions, relationships, etc.
God bless you all! : )

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Colleen, I read your entries and sometimes I think maybe you missed your calling.(Your AWESOME!!!) But I know you are an awesome gym teacher and feel blessed that the children of Gaylord have had your influence. As a mom I know we sometimes question how we are doing, Girl, you are doing GREAT!!

4:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was so happy for your whole family when I heard your news! Going back to the great nuturing atmosphere of college will be wonderful!

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good morning Ceraks,
The news of Whit is exciting and with her determination since the day of the accident, proves she will succeed this fall for her Lord. Keep up the great work. I hope that you will be able to go home to Gaylord soon before heading back to campus. You will be continued to be lifted up in prayer from the community of Upland. Excited to see you soon
In Christ love

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Kevin & Donna Nichols said...

This is so amazing for Whitney to be prepared to return to school. What a summer you all have had. I bet you wouldn't have traded it for anything knowing how God has worked in all your lives this summer and worked through your lives to bless us, too. I'm sure she will do a great job this fall and will, again, truly amaze all! Great job, Whitney - your courageous young woman!!

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be good for Whitney to get back to some sort of normal. I can't imagine how much you all will miss her being so far from home after what happened in the spring. It will be hard for you all, but also the best thing you can do. The sweet little birdie must leave the nest again, but Jesus will lift her wings higher than before.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great encouraging words today! This is just wonderful news. & her friends seem to be a huge part of her recovery. Her boyfriend is not mentioned lately. I hope they are still friends. Golf will be fun for Whitney. Enjoy your life Whitney!! Thinking of you.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How's Matt??

6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just been introduced to your blog. Your sincere expressions of love for and knowledge of our Lord have touched my heart and opened my eyes to God's awesome power and love. Very inspirational. Thank you for sharing your faith publicly.

Christine
Chicago, IL

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wittney,
Nathan, my son was in a similar accident on June 18, 2005. He spent 4 months in the Parkview Hospital in Ft. Wayne. He is now enrolled at Taylor in Ft. Wayne with 5 credit hour this fall. He is doing very well, but still has a long way to go. I want you to know that he wanted to come see you in Michigan, so he could share his story. We are so thankful to the Lord that you are back at college. You will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.
Janie Ross, OH

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those of us who at one time or another question our faith or loose our complete faith in God, then your life, your situation and your dedication is a true reminder of our love for God!
God Bless You And Yours......

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can never thank you enough for sharing your marvelous story. From all of us who have been sharing your grief, your heartaches, your great shock and eventual joy and perserverance; we thank you for reminding us Who God Is...How Loving He Is...How Faithful He Is...How Perfect His Ways Are, even when we don't understand.
I look forward to getting to know you some day in our eternal home. Save some stories... :)

In Christ's Precious Name,
Terri
Enterprise, FL

7:37 PM  
Anonymous Blake Anderson said...

Not sure if ya'll still read this but my name is Blake Anderson and my mother Dana Potter is a good friend of yours from a long time ago, when we used to live in gaylord, MI. It's so crazy that when the article about Whitney was first posted i was working and saw a crumpled USA Today with her picture on the front. I went crazy calling everyone in my family, it was very sad. I just wanted to say how glad i am to hear that she is doing substantially better. I would love to hear from you and learn how she is doing. my email address is bjanderson2@gmail.com. God Bless!

10:37 PM  
Blogger rurkmalone said...

Hi,,my name is Robert Klaysmat. I'm living in Los Angeles, but from Hibbing, Minnesota. I read the story of what happened and what a story!! It really sounds like you all are close family wise. Anyway, hope Whitney the best even though we I don't know her..God Bless...Robert Klaysmat

1:11 PM  
Blogger Keri said...

What may we do to help?
Godbless all of us for all that he had done and is doing. Children are an incredible extension of God, and his gentleness, and blessings. Much like a an incredibe surprise that is presented to us at the most unexpected times.
Love,
Keri Brennan
Keri@diversifiedselect.com 704-507-1758

7:10 PM  
Blogger yayo said...

What makes this story more incredible is that we grew up a stones throw from the Franks and attended mass at the "little white church" in Sound Beach on Echo Ave.! I emailed the story to my brother Don who was just as shocked and he shared with me that it was Pastor Frank that put God in his life! We have a lot of fond memories of vacation bible school and the strawberry festivals and more! Our prayers are with you all for peace and healing. Please thank your dad for us! The Meola family

6:19 AM  
Blogger Hiker said...

We have just finished watching your story on Dateline including excerpts from Laura's sister blog. As Christian parents of two grown married sons (26 & 24) we are so thankful for God's mercy and grace and the hope we find in our Lord and Savior. 1 Thes 5:17

8:18 PM  
Blogger lea said...

Keep up the good work Whitney, and I do want to say, I know how a mistake in idenity can happen, I know what I looked like when it happened to me. Love to you and your family,lea===Hawksgroom@yahoo.com

8:21 PM  
Blogger lea said...

Those who dont know Jesus, need to, He is so real!!!!

8:22 PM  
Blogger revbruce said...

To Both Families, Just saw Dateline. We were aware of your situation at the time. Bev's family from Decatur, IN. I'm an old FWBC 73-74 alumni. Want you all to know how much we love you.
One one part of the Body hurts -- we all do. So, we share your sorrow
and rejoice at your gain. No words can express how we feel as parents. Just know this:YOU ARE LOVED!!!

Bruce Howerter
Duluth, GA.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After watching dateline I'm left with a clear distinction - Whitney is a true servant of God.

I kind of made a little change to one of JFK's best. Feel free to own it, I give it to you. It goes like this - "Ask not what God can do for you, ask what can I do for God".

Enjoy!

Don

wasntjustadream@yahoo.com

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw your story on Nightline tonight and was so moved by your faith. It was so very encouraging to see both families depend and trust our awesome God. I was moved to tears when your parents spoke of the peace that only He can give, when your family was being prayed for during a prayer service. May He continue to bless your family.
Whitney your dad is right when he said, why not you? I know God will use the opportunities that you have had to minister to others.

Give God the Glory,
Your Sister in Christ

9:12 PM  
Blogger Michael J.Wolfe said...

Hi Whitney my name is Mike and I live in Mass.I saw yours and Laura's story on Dateline tonight.I shed a lot of tears tonight when I heard the story.I know what the Van Ryn family is going through because on November 18,1994 I lost my brother he was 27 when he died.He had an accident at his work and fell about 10 feet onto a cement floor.He was on life support for two days.It was the hardest decision we ever made as a family.I look at it now.If my brother had lived he would have been a vegatable and that is no way to live.November 18,1994 was the worst day of my life I throw up when my brother died.If November 18,1994 was the worst day of my life then October 27,2004 at 11:40 p.m. was the best day of my life because at that exact moment the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series Title in 86 years.It was also very bittersweet because on one hand I was excited to see the Sox win it all but on the other hand I was sad because my brother was not here to share that moment with me.It is hard for my family to talk about what happened to my brother I think it's because if we talk about it it will bring back all the pain.I hope you will write to at MJWOL29@Verizon.net

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just watched the story of Laura and Whitney on Dateline. God works in the most wonderous ways. In these days we now live, which at times feel like could be the "end of times", God just reached millions of people through the testimony of the Cerak and VanRyn families. If there was a reason to be found as to why that all happened it could be truly this. The message of Christ's love for all has been spoken through these families. God, you are truly an "Awesome God"!!

Lisa
Modesto, CA

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Lindsay said...

i seen your story on tv. and i was wondering if Lisa Van Ryn's blog is still up? if so, i would love if you could post a comment on your profile stating it. thanks.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blessings be!

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL IN MANY MANY WAYS WHITNEY. GOD WILL GIVE YOU HIS PEACE AND LOVE AS I HEARD IN CHURCH ON EASTER DONT JUST
BELEIVE IN GOD "BELEIVE ON HIM" I AM NOT ONE FOR WORDS OR TRUST IN MANY, BUT THOSE OF CHRIST THE ONE WHO GAVE AND STILL GIVE'S -ALL "FOREVER" MIKE

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading about Whitney’s long recovery has really showed what a great family the Ceraks are, so much love and caring. It has made me feel really good inside, thank you for sharing this incredible story.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI Whitney. I am a twelve year old girl from Grand Rapids. You may have heard about another "Mistaken Identity" in the past Grand Rapids press. I knew this person who died. His last name was Smith. His mom is very depressed still, so depressed that she quit her job, sleeps a lot, and barely ever leaves the house. The boys name was Nate. Can you please get in contact and help her with your expirence. I feel Christ is calling me to help her. Her name is Ecsona Smith. Please leave a blog or something. I am posting comments on anything I can find. I will check your blog everyday. Please help this woman. God is calling you to do it.

Thank You and may GOD bless you and your family.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Steven said...

Iam truly inspired by this story, i read this to my church group and watched the msn video it brought actual tears to my eyes to know that god looked out for one of its children. I cannot believe how strong a family can be especially one who goes through that ordeal. I hope to get to speak to whitney about life and the church I hope the Cerak family lives long and healthy. and remember god is great

Steven From California

1:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so happy for your family that you were able to wrap your arms around Whitney again. After thinking she was gone. We, sadly lost our daughter almost 3 years ago in 2005. She was young like Whitney (aged 17) and was in a car accident but it was with her boyfriend who also died. When I heard your story I couldn't believe something like that could happen..I guess it can. If anything we are happy for you, May God continue to heal Whitney and bless her.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Iam a great fan of your book.I hope you don't mind but I am doing a project and slideshow for school. I am only in seventh grade but you all have inspired me and millions of students and staff at my school.

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am working on aproject about you and I have to take on the role of Whitney. If you could give me more info about you life previously that would be great.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first I'd heard of this story was on the March 28th episode of Dateline. What an amaginze tragdy these families experienced. I have since read the book about these two families and cried through many pages. I hope to one day have half the love and positive outlook that these families have. It's great to read Whitney is doing great.

kim thompson-charlotte, nc

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read your book. Awesome it touched me.
The faith you young people have for Jesus Christ. My husband and I have 5 children and we have been through allot and yes only through Jesus have we been able to cope with it. I pray many blessings upon you and all those invovled.
Thanks again for writing about your lives.
Tamara Beck Phx. AZ

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

book club said...

me and my friends sent a letter to you last night and we are reading the book togeather.you taught us a lot of things.

bye

5:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i saw the story on dateline for the first time today..timing is everything as we have just experience a passing of a loved one in our immediate family..and my my wife's husband is a christian pastor in calgary alberta(noting mr. cerak's calling as well) an amazing story..sad, but happy at the same time. all the best.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Rose said...

To the Cerak and Van Ryn Family, I just purchased your book two days ago and finished it in tears. I felt your pain and admire your faith in God. I am moved to pursue in examining my faith and relationship with God. I have a daughter and I cannot imagine ever loosing her. Thank you for sharing your life experience with me. It has truly changed my life.
Bless you all, Rose

11:58 AM  
Blogger Chelsie said...

i just read the book last night and i read the whole thing in 4 hours when i should have been sleeping but i just couldn't put it down. It was written very well.

I'll be praying for both families.

5:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a mother of 3 children all have gone to Taylor, one that is at Taylor upland right now. I wept reading your story, I became both Mothers at the same time. My heart was split in two reading your incounter. We Praise God that we do live and die and serve,knowing we serve a risen Savior. What glory Heaven will be when we see all our loved ones again. God bless you Whitney, on and off the Taylor campus. I could not help but think - When my children where days old we dedicated them to the Lord, and we have intrusted them in to the Hands of Almighty God. Kary Johnston

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your book and it is so amazing that God does the things that He does. You have inspired me and taught me that God does create miracles and your story is exactly that. I am planning on attending Taylor when I am older and I am so excited to walk the halls where you have been! God is so good and I am so glad that someone like you has been able to experience him like you did!

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Hi, I just read Mistaken Identity in a single evening and sobbed most of the way through it, until I realized what a joyful book it really is. I just finished it. I was so inspired by the events that transpired and the faith of both of your family's and the community at large. As it happens, I am going through my second break-up with my husband. About 8 months ago I found out most of my marriage has been a lie, but was able to try to forgive him and move on. Although we are separated I was beginning to believe in him again. Just last night I found out that he hasn't changed his behavior at all..the affairs and lying have continued. I was in despair. I bought your book for distraction. I have NEVER bought a non-fiction hard back book. Tonight I asked God for help with my despair, and my feelings for my husband. It's the first time in nearly 20 years that I have prayed. Thank you for bringing me back to Him. I feel hope. Best wishes to Whitney and to you all.

Lisa Evans

8:38 PM  
Anonymous kary said...

God Bless each one of you, I'm a mother of 2 adults that have gone to Taylor and one that is at Taylor Upland now. I became both mothers while I read , My heart was broken in many ways. You have inpacted all our lives.
You have been shining lights for the world to watch and they have seen pure white light. The Love of Christ in each one of you.
Whitney, I send my love and know that Christ has wonderful things for you in the every day things of life. With a Mothers love, Kary

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure if you still check your blog, but I read the book and I found both of you young ladies (yourself and Laura) to be such beautiful and positive ladies coming from TERRIFIC families. I was not sure if I was suppose to be happy for your family and sad for theirs. I didn't want to seem as if I was a terrible person. In one of the chapters, when Your dad and sister went to the Van Ryns house; Don and Susie understood the mixed emotions. My heart goes out to the Van Ryn Family including Laura's boyfriend. As for you and your family, continue to keep God within your family and stay blessed.

11:22 AM  
OpenID mrshmellow814 said...

All I can say is WOW.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read your book and I'm so amazed by your story and am so touched by your faith. As a mother who has lost a child I cried through every chapter. I'm so very happy at how far Whitney has come and just know that God has truly bessed you with an unforgetable journey that will continue to amaze each and everyone of you!
God bless!

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Priscilla said...

I want to start by thanking you all for sharing such an amazing experience with us all...I have read the book ''Mistaken Identity'' and I was so intrigued by it that I finished it in 2 days! I cried, I laughed, I smiled and I cried some more...this story truly touched my heart in more ways than I can imagine! Whitney, you are such a beautiful strong woman...and because of your experience, I now truly believe that God does work in mysterious ways! Laura...Dear Laura...child of God..beautiful angel...I feel good knowing that you are in Heaven like an angel...looking down on us all! Thank you once again and I tend to share this book with my wonderful mother!
God Bless you all and God Bless your kindness!

Priscilla
(Texas)

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi im from ireland i i have just read you amazing book mistaken identity and i would just like to to say thank you for sharing your experience with the world through this book. i am currently overwhelmed with emotion and admiration of your strength. i hope whitney has made a full recovery and if you are still in touch with the vanryn family you might tell them how much of an inspiration they are.
carol Ireland

5:46 AM  
Blogger MeridithBlack said...

Dear Whitney,

Wow, Sister... I'm not sure if you'll see this post but thought to leave a note just in case.

Whitney, I was at the airport 2 days after getting married on June 7, 2008, to an absolutely wonderful guy :) when I say your book in the Indianapolis Airport Bookstore.

I remember being at work when the news of your accident was being shared via TV and email and feeling my heart drop. So many of my friends (church family) praying for your family and for the families of those involved in the accident. I grew up in Indiana...not far from Muncie and had been to Taylor for a Bebo Norman/Jennifer Knapp concert. I had friends who attended Taylor and therefore it was close to home.

When I saw your book I truly had to read it. God totally drew me to your story as He knew it was one my heart needed to take in as it exuded faith and love. Life had become so busy that I was not slowing down to give God personal time but was "checking off the 'to-do list'" at work (Speech Therapist) and regarding wedding planning. The love and faith that Carly and Lisa displayed through the heartache awakened me, by God's grace, to search deep inside and to ask God for insight into why I wasn't allowing Him to have more time.

As I was reading I saw the name "Brent Hershey" as well. My roommate at the time of the accident was close friends with a gal who was engaged to Brent (a strong man of faith who was deployed to Iraq). Brent was called home to be with God during that deployment. I remember the pain that Melody went through as she and others grieved. Through it all the stories his faith inspired thousands upon thousands... just like yours is.

Whitney, although we haven't met... there is a realization of God's goodness in that we are sisters and that His love for you is so evident. His heart in me has given me glimpses of His love for you...as He gives us for others often. I love those moments when God breathes life into the heart for others...when my eyes are not on myself so much but truly living.

Sister, thank you for sharing your heart and your story. The journey never ends... and thankfully, He is with us the whole way!

My husband is a physical therapist and is a rehabilitation coordinator at a Veteran's Hospital...He was incredibly touched by your story. He feels that the book that your two families (Cerak and VanRyn) had written would be a valuable book for his staff to read.

God bless you, Whitney!

Your Sister,
Meridith

Merhks@yahoo.com

6:34 AM  
Anonymous kathyjo said...

I just finish reading your book. it was a great story. i read the book in one day. i could not put it down. hope you are do ok. god bless you and your family.

kathy jo

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son suffered a brain trauma in February. I find your story to be very encouraging, and inspiring as my son continues to recover. I would love to correspond with Whitney's mother. Pleae e-mail me if possible:
craz4u3@aol.com
Nancy

1:25 PM  
Blogger rosie said...

whitney I just finished your book, I was amazed by your families faith in God. I also come from a religious family and go to chuch twich on Sunday, but can't say I am as devoted as you are. I know this is something I have to pray for. Your book was an inspiration for me.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished reading the book "Mistaken Identity." I could not help but pray for both families during the whole time I was reading your experience. I pray that God continues to bless and keep watch over all the families that were involved with the incident.

In Jesus' love,
Monica
Herndon, VA

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished reading the book "Mistaken Identity." I could not help but pray for both families during the whole time I was reading your experience. I pray that God continues to bless and keep watch over all the families that were involved with the incident.

In Jesus' love,
Monica
Herndon, VA

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

Whitney,

I have just read Mistaken Identity. I was inspired when I saw a re run of the news on MSNBC.
This was my first time hearing your story and it is September 08'.
I have been so touched and moved after learning what happened. Your families book is so sad of the truth, yet inspirational at the same time. I couldn't put the book down. I know that you have had a lot of people reaching out to you and your family/families. As horrible a tragedy as it was, through everything, I believe everything happens for a reason. The Lord works in mysterious ways. The book brought me so close to you, your family, and the Van Ryan family. I have referred others to read Mistaken Identity in hopes that it will change their life as it has changed mine.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished reading the book "Mistaken Identity". I started it at 10:30am and completed it at 1:30pm. I couldn't put it down. My mother gave it to me and told me that it had her in tears for the whole time she was reading it. This book has been passed on starting with my aunt who purchased it, to my grandmother, my mother, and to me. My intention is to continue passing this on to my sister then my other aunt to spread this powerful story of God's amazing work. Never in my life have I heard such incredible heartache, sorrow and joy all wrapped up in one. As a believer myself, I often struggle with the "why me's" and the "life's not fair". This book has really opened my eyes to the Lord's work. My heart goes out to the Van Ryn family and know, as they do, Laura is in Heaven with our Father and they will await the day in which they are united again. Such a blessing! I hope that your story of your lives continues to bless others around the world. It definately has blessed me.

Amy Brett
Ontario, Canada.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read your book and I know its been over 2 years I really hope you get this. I just want to say both families have touched me. they strength you have in god is amazing. I lost a cousin and instead of asking for gods help I turned to drinking and other sinful things. I did not become an alcoholic or do drugs but I did start drinking. I never use to I found it eased the pain temporary that is. but there was still something missing. I lost all faith in our beloved father in heaven. after reading this stroy you all gave me the chance to see god works in wonderful ways and that he does excist. I know I can't see him but I know and hope one day I will. and I know I feel him. he is amazing through all the stuff I did out of anger he has always been right next to me holding me. whitney thank you.. you helped me believe in something and gave hope to one day be as strong as you are in my faith. you are my hero and ill never forget this story. you will be in my prayers. much love
-B

1:33 AM  
Anonymous patrick maina said...

I AM CURRENTLY READING WHITNEYS BOOK THAT SHE PRESENTED TO ONE MR SMITH WHO GAVE IT TO A FRIEND OF MINE WHO ALLOWED ME TO READI IT IN TWO DAYS...I HAVE CRIED SO MANY TIMES AND THE BOOK HAS RENEWED MY FAITH IN GOD.I BELIEV IN CHRIST AND WHAT I HAVE READ I KNOW HE IS IN TOTAL CONTROL.PATRICK MAINA MOMBASA KENYA

10:47 PM  
Blogger randy said...

it is amazing her story the experins must had been hard but your story has showed that god can do anything
sinserly,
randy l

7:39 PM  
Anonymous teresa said...

12/26/08. Whitney, I did not know your story until tonight on t.v. My son was in a bad wreck also just three days later, on April 29, 2006, in Ky. - his car resembled what I saw on t.v. tonight - logic would say he could not have survived. But God chose to save him, and when I got the phone call that night, I was reminded that my God had heard this mother's nightly prayers, "God, don't forget my son." He was thrown 50 feet from the car and landed against a tree. His girlfriend. who was 7 months pregnant with my grandbaby, also survived, and my grandbaby is now 2 1/2 and is perfect! My son suffers now with injuries but is working after an entire year of recuperation (he is 25). Couldn't help but ask that you would pray for him - he grew up in Christian home but is somewhat of a lost soul and needs God. He is the best and sweetest son in the world - a good boy - but needs direction. I was so inspired by your story and cried most of the way through. My prayers are that God will continue to be with you and your family and also Laura's family. I also pray He continue to love and protect my son and grandbaby and that their lives will be blessed. Thank you for your willingness to share your faith. 'Would love to talk with you. tgoins032@aol.com

9:13 PM  
Blogger teresa said...

Whitney,

Didn't know your story until I saw it on t.v. tonight. My son was also in a car accident on 4/29/06, just 3 days later, in KY. He recuperated for an entire year but is now back to work, with injuries, but alive, thank the Lord. Your story made me cry and relive some of the experiences I had two years ago. My son was thrown from the vehicle 50 feet, and his pregnant girfriend was also thrown ... but all three, my son, my grandbaby's mother, and my grandbaby all survived. Your faith is strong. My son grew up in a Christian home but he needs God right now. I have faith that God is blessing him. I pray God bless you and both your family and Laura's. I would love to talk with you.

teresa

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished reading your book. I had not heard of this story for some reason so reading the book was all very new to me. I happened to catch it on Dateline on 12/26/08...i ended up recording the show rather than watching it so I could finish the book! I'm not a big believer of God...but this story just made have turned my head to a new direction! I feel like I know you (as I'm sure everyone does).
-Thinking of you in California!

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am doing a book project on your story. your stories amazing

May God Bless You!

2:18 PM  
Anonymous K Borden said...

I heard Whitney's story on the Today Show. It is amazing. Three weeks ago my nephew was in a car accident; severe head trauma; shear diffusion is what the docs say he has. They can't give us any insight as to what we should expect. I remember Whitney's story and I was wanting to know if yall mind sharing with me what her injuries were. I am hoping that my nephew will have a success story like Whitney's. You can just email me if you don't mind... you don't have to post this; I just didn't know of any other way to get in touch with you guys.(kborden@cableone.net)

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello to all of you...you are all exceptionally special and blessed.

I am not a religious person, even though my Father(who recently passed) was a Rabbi.

I watched your story ( along with the Van Ryn's) on NBC, A twist of fate.

Your stories gave me such a feeling of inner peace and warmth and hope...that honestly, for the first time in my 37 years on this earth, I wondered...There might really be a G-D. Something else following us in this vast world of unknowns.

The strength that yout two families have is heart warming to me.. I even feel a slight bit envious because your faith is SO strong..and mine is not.

With that said, your stories are an inspiration to me. I am so happy and thankful that the both of you have your faith and families to keep you strong, keep you rooted and to keep you hopeful.

To the Van Ryn's: I can never say enough words to express my thoughts and feelings of sympathy over the loss of your beloved daughter Laura. You were truly exceptionally strong and loving in your actions, I am so sorry for what happened.

To the Cerak's:
To lose your daughter and then to find her again is a miracle. To deal with the loss that the Van Ryn's are feeling must be a truly unbearable cross to bare. Both of your families seem so strong in their faith...I know that you all will make it through the roads ahead.

With love,
Ruth Weiss Kroepke
rutietooty@aol.com

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello to all of you...you are all exceptionally special and blessed.

I am not a religious person, even though my Father(who recently passed) was a Rabbi.

I watched your story ( along with the Van Ryn's) on NBC, A twist of fate.

Your stories gave me such a feeling of inner peace and warmth and hope...that honestly, for the first time in my 37 years on this earth, I wondered...There might really be a G-D. Something else following us in this vast world of unknowns.

The strength that yout two families have is heart warming to me.. I even feel a slight bit envious because your faith is SO strong..and mine is not.

With that said, your stories are an inspiration to me. I am so happy and thankful that the both of you have your faith and families to keep you strong, keep you rooted and to keep you hopeful.

To the Van Ryn's: I can never say enough words to express my thoughts and feelings of sympathy over the loss of your beloved daughter Laura. You were truly exceptionally strong and loving in your actions, I am so sorry for what happened.

To the Cerak's:
To lose your daughter and then to find her again is a miracle. To deal with the loss that the Van Ryn's are feeling must be a truly unbearable cross to bare. Both of your families seem so strong in their faith...I know that you all will make it through the roads ahead.

With love,
Ruth Weiss Kroepke
rutietooty@aol.com

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I am really young and I started
reading the book I'm at beginning
of chapter 8 I think this book is a
great book because I have a friend
and we look a lot a like so far I've been called her name and she's been called my name I hope when were older this doesn't happen to us like it did to you and laura Van Rye.

I hope you have/had a great recovery.

you guys rock,
Kayla Olewinski Rockford,MI

6:39 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Please to whom this may concern. I am a mother with a beautiful family and very lucky to be alive. For two ears now no-one has even had a chance to ha my version and I need to start a blog and I am not sure how. WE are all children of God anf im not a crazy ! I am just looking for help.
702-308-4541

7:58 AM  
Anonymous Lilly Ross said...

My name is Lilly.
I was hoping an individual from the family could contact me so i could talk to you. I'd love to tell you how i feel, and how you restored my faith.

inner.beauty_33@yahoo.com

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Lord is the most important thing in This World. I too experienced His love in a terrible accident! I saw HIS face and HE saved me too! I wish everyone in this temperal world knew HIS SON!! He is our Savior!! God Bless Whitney!

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Whitney! i read your book and i thoroughly enjoyed it. I am praying 4 you! So happy to see your progress.
Naomi Fain
Adrian, MI

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad 4 Whitney that she's goin back 2 taylor! Wat a story. You are a living testimony of what God can do! Your book really touched my heart. I'm so glad 4 you! God bless you and your family!!!!!!!!

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Rita Neto said...

Hi Whitney and the rest of family Cerak. I'm Rita, a portuguese girl with 14 years old. I don't know really well what say, but I just think that I nedd too say you something. I read your book, is really beautiful and chocaant at the same time. I cry a lot when e was reading the book, and I think a lot of times that God, maybe, is really true. my mail is ritocasnto@hotmail.com, please adiction me.
I just know your story now, but maybe we can talk, please. probably the comentary have a lot of mistakes, but, i'm just a portuguese girl with 14 years=) ritocasnto@hotmail.com please, lets go talk just a little bit.
kisses
Rita Neto
Portugal, Porto

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today's Date is June 3, 2009.

I know this blog started in 2006. However, I feel it is never to late to share. I went to my local library and picked up your book. I read your book in one day. Wow! I am in no way a reader. I could not put the book down reason that God was talked about threw the entire book.

My reason for choosing this book was that the stories were real. Also, God was in almost every single page. As a mother I really do understand how the Lord is indeed are strength. Accepting things is his plan not ours. I have learned that he is my everything. I try to share with family members that he loves us so much.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Dear Whitney,
I am a mother of three children (12, 11 and 9). We live in Perth, Western Australia. I have just finished your book (I received it from my friend last night and finished in about midday today - 13th June 2009) What an amazing journey you have been on - a true testiment to God's love and grace. May you continue your recovery in the palm of God's hand. Bless you, Nicole Newman

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few months ago, I happened to pick up your book as I was looking for a "good book to skim" while watching my son play trains at Barnes and Noble. I was so intrigued by your story; yet, I couldn't buy the book at that time...Just last week I picked it up again at my local libray, and I am so glad to be reading your tragic, yet wonderful, story. My husband asked me today (as I was telling him about it), "Why do you read things like this that are so sad? (particularly for the VanRyn family)" I told him, "I guess because I know we all share the same faith, and I feel encouraged by the faith they are sharing with others through this story."
To both families, thank you so much for sharing your story with so many. I know all the events cannot be easy to share (especially when the media can "plaster the facts" all over as they sometimes do); however, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your openness and honesty not only of the events that took place, but of your feelings and your unwavering faith in the only one, true, living God!
I believe in this day and age, our nation/our world, so desperately needs to hear a message of unwavering hope in Jesus Christ and an "unfounded" love for our "fellow man." We are enendated (sp?) with a daily culture that is so wrapped up in hopelessness and sin that, too often, we as Christians seem to forget what we were put on this earth to do! (#1 Worship God & #2 Reach the lost) Thank you so much for sending out this "message" to all who have read or will read it that we serve a God who is ALIVE, FAITHFUL AND FULL OF HOPE, and He is here for anyone and everyone who will call on His name! God bless all of you for your courage to share your hearts and your lives with so many across the globe. We will continue to uplift the VanRyn's and all those who lost a loved one so tragically. God bless.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

Hi, my name is Kristen and I am 14 years old. I just read your book and was very touched by it. I found myself crying out of joy and sadness many times. My mom was reading the book at the time and she was about ten pages in when I read the back. I literally stole the book from her and finished it in two days. That is pretty fast considering that I am really big dancer and usually take classes for 3 hours a day. I know that God has touched your family and I know that He has done the same for me. It is very good to hear that Whitney has made an awesome recovery and is going to school again! When I thought you were going to quit it almost broke my heart and then I finished reading the page. You are an inspiration to me Whitney, I know that if you don’t quit at something even though all that stuff happened to you then I shouldn’t quit either!
I hope that you guys are still in touch with the Van Ryn family because it seems that you two families have a very good connection. I think that God made this happen for a reason. He made this mix-up happen, and because of that so many people around the world have opened their eyes to see God.
Signed,
Kristen Kirkwood
June 17, 2009

4:14 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

Hi, my name is Kristen and I am 14 years old. I just read your book and was very touched by it. I found myself crying out of joy and sadness many times. My mom was reading the book at the time and she was about ten pages in when I read the back. I literally stole the book from her and finished it in two days. That is pretty fast considering that I am really big dancer and usually take classes for 3 hours a day. I know that God has touched your family and I know that He has done the same for me. It is very good to hear that Whitney has made an awesome recovery and is going to school again! When I thought you were going to quit it almost broke my heart and then I finished reading the page. You are an inspiration to me Whitney, I know that if you don’t quit at something even though all that stuff happened to you then I shouldn’t quit either!
I hope that you guys are still in touch with the Van Ryn family because it seems that you two families have a very good connection. I think that God made this happen for a reason. He made this mix-up happen, and because of that so many people around the world have opened their eyes to see God.
Signed,
Kristen Kirkwood
June 17, 2009
please feel free to contact me at k_dogz@hotmail.com

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Dy said...

hello
today i have finished the book about your story.I'm from Romania,EU and yor book arrived in my country this year
I know that you want a normal life and I hope I don't disturb
I've read the book and I even cried.
I am so glad you are healthy and I hope you have a great life
God bless you and your family!
Dy

7:10 AM  
Blogger Janaina said...

Sep, 26 2009

I first heard of you all on the “Oprah Show” and I could not stop thinking about your families and your story. I wanted to know more so I went to buy your book at Barnes and Noble and it was sold out, I had to wait three days for your book, I had to order on line. I got the book and started reading and could not put the book down, it was so tragic yet amazing.

Thank you for sharing your story with the rest of us. Thank you for teaching me to be a better Christian, and how to depend more on the Lord.

What I learned the most about your story was at the end when Whitney wrote about Elijah, “…God isn’t in the windstorm….in the earthquake…in the fire…but in a whisper.” “I only have to let him whisper gently through my life” wow that’s inspiring.
Right now I am just a mom who loves her children and tells them about JESUS, thanks WHITNEY, for making me realize that, that’s enough! I don’t need to conquer the world; I just need to start making a difference to those around me.

I share your same faith and what an awesome faith it is!

Sincerely

Janaina De Jesus (Ina)
Revere,MA

PS: guess what everyone here is getting for x-mas??? You’re BOOK! I already sent one to a beloved friend of mine in Brazil. Have you guys considered translating the book?

God bless you today and always!

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May god be with you.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi. i know its been a while since you wrote this, but i just finished reading your book and it really inspired me! through all of that, you stuck with God and stopped for a second to blame him for anything.

6:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i read mistaken identity. it was a really uplifting story and God has done wonderful things in Whitney's life. your family is still in my prayers.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I just wanted to say that your family is an amazing example. Infact, I used your family as my heroes, you guys kept your faith through it all. (: Praise God.

5:24 PM  
Blogger ashleybaby31 said...

i just read your book and omg how i felt like a mess i pray and am so glad you are making it. i felt as if i was right there with you in the book i felt all the emotions and even cryed a little bit when this happend i was 13 and now i am 18 i pray for your family and you and lauras family and just everyone in the accedent that day with much love and respect for all of you
AShley

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Angela said...

I know I am a few years late for helping you guys pray, but I am reading Mistaken Identity in class. It touches my heart to know how much you all love God. This has really opened my eyes to see how blessed I am. I hope all continues to go well for Whitney. I will keep everyone in my prayers.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been a firefighter with the Valdosta Fire Department in south GA for a little more than 5 years. The sad but inpirational story you guys lived and shared through the novel, "Mistaken Identity" more than touched my heart. On a regular basis, emergency workers such as myself, often find ourselves asking why such tragic situations often happen. But as I've learned coming up in church and with the reassurance of such a remarkable journey yall have traveled and shared.. Life's difficulties aren't for us to figure out or understand on our own! Our God is an Amazing God and never fails us regardless of how tough times get. Thank you so much for sharing your story and know that it has helped opened my eyes and heart more to our Lord and Saviour. May God continue to bless the Cerak and VanRyn families as your story and experience has truly blessed me!!
Justin Smith
Valdosta, GA

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Sadie said...

Hey Cerak family, my name is Sadie. I'm a fifteen year old, and I'm reading the book "Mistaken Identity." Let me tell you, this book is really touching me. God led the way, and this was a miracle. Good luck <3

Sincerely, with God's love and my own,
Sadie

4:56 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

i dont know if you still check this blog, but if you do i just wanted to let you know that i am reading your book, mistaken identity, and that there are many parts that i find myself crying. thank you so much for being such an example is praising God even in hard times.

7:24 AM  

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