Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I thought I'd post a quick update - especially as many are asking about how Elissa is doing. Since updating her blog hasn't been high on her priority list I hope she's OK with me giving a bit of an update here.

Elissa has had several surgeries now (about 4 maybe?) and this morning she had what we hope is the last one for awhile. The surgery had two purposes - one was to graft some skin from her hip onto her shoulder and the second was to wire her jaw shut (they discovered her jaw was broken a few days after the accident). It sounds like it went as well as could be expected. Please pray for Elissa as she deals with a wired mouth (and eating only pureed foods for several weeks), a healing shoulder, a sore hip, and a c-section recovery. All of this while being a new mother to little Caleb. I imagine it is all very overwhelming for her right now. Caleb is doing fairly well but is still forgetting to breathe in his sleep at times (sleep apnea). So, because of this, they will have to keep him closely monitored for awhile yet.

As for the rest of us, the immediate Toews family (Rosanna included) is heading to Calgary tomorrow so that we can all be together with Doug & Elissa. Some of us are flying and some are driving. It will be a short trip - only until Saturday - but hopefully it will encourage Elissa's spirit and give us a chance to grieve as a family.

Micah has been so out of sorts this week and even though he should be excited about going on an airplane, he keeps telling me he doesn't want to go. He wants to stay home. It's understandable. He's gone through so much this past week and a bit and he doesn't understand any of it. You can pray that he will feel safe and loved these next few days as we're in more strange places and with more strange people.

Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers...

Monday, July 30, 2007

Images from the past week

My blog has been lacking in pictures this last week for understandable reasons. There have been many family members and friends around, but it just didn't feel right to pull out the camera and capture those moments. But, I did manage to get a few pictures from the week and thought I'd share some of them...

The other night the boys felt the need to get out and play some ball. Erik felt so blessed to have his cousins Chris & Mark around this week.

The innocence of Keziah.

There are so many flowers. We transported them to the church for the funeral.

Thursday afternoon was spent practicing our music for the worship time at the funeral. The band included family, friends and former worship team members of Nate's.

As we practiced our final song, "I Can Only Imagine" the whole band became emotional. We all stopped playing and Dan led us in an impromptu worship time that was very meaningful.

Nate's motorbike displayed outside of the church.

This post didn't feel complete without including a recent photo of Nathan. This picture was taken a couple of months ago when Erik and Nathan were just starting their final house together. These pictures of work are the hardest ones for Erik to look at. At the burial on Friday Erik put Nathan's tool belt into the grave with the casket. That was an emotional moment for him.

We miss you Nathan...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Mourning Sickness

Nathan's burial and funeral yesterday were beautiful. We had a graveside service first in a beautiful little cemetery out in the country. Some meaningful & emotional moments included Erik & Doug (as well as dads, cousins and brothers-in-law) closing Nathan's grave by shovel and then watching afterwards as several doves were released into the sky.

The funeral was special too. God gave us strength to be on stage and to lead in worship. Rosanna's brother, Dan, is so gifted and did an amazing job. I felt so blessed and honored to be up there. We had a joy and a peace that was beyond us and I think it made it more meaningful that each person up there had a strong connection to Nate. I think it was the kind of worship service that Nathan would have loved - not because the music sounded good, but because people were genuinely entering into worship. That was his heart and his passion.

But now it is over and we no longer have the funeral plans to distract us from our grief. Now we are forced to try to resume some kind of "normal" but it feels like it can never be normal again. Our lives have never before been altered in such a devastating way and Erik and I feel overwhelmed and afraid of what the future will look like now. I'm finding that, for me, the tears are coming easier today than they have all week. Our hearts are broken. And my heart breaks even more when I think of what Rosanna has to face in the weeks and months ahead. This is her worst nightmare come true and I wish so bad that I could carry some of the pain for her.

We've been talking to Micah a little bit about what's going on. He knows that Uncle Nathan is gone and that Auntie Rosanna is sad. He knows that Uncle Nathan is with Jesus - the other day he asked me where he was and when I reminded him he said, "Uncle Nathan is at Jesus' house!" What an innocent little heart he has. Tonight I tucked Micah in and told him I was going to sing him a new song. It was a song that Nate had started writing last Thursday. We never knew how it went, but Rosanna's brother took the words that we found in his journal and put them to music. We sang it yesterday at the memorial service. The words are unbelievable considering he wrote them the day before he died. Here is a portion of it:

You're bringing me back from death to life,
Drawing me near unto your throne,
Holding my hand as I journey home.
Filling my mind with words of truth,
Touching my heart with your great love,
Jesus, you are, true life to me.
This is the way, come and walk in it
Follow my lead and never quit.
This is the way come and walk in it

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Today is day 6. Can it really only be 6 days since we heard the news? It seems like this week has been more like a month. Those first hours alone felt like days. And yet I can still hear Doug's voice on the phone saying, "Jamie, Nathan didn't make it." I can still feel myself shaking afterwards and thinking, no, no, no, no - this just can't be...

How can life change in an instant?

Erik and I are exhausted - physically and emotionally. Planning a funeral is draining. And we want it to be really good, so that makes it even more draining. On Monday morning I somehow ended up being the only one in the house (which is shared with Erik's parents) and it was overwhelming - trying to manage 2 phones ringing off the hook, answer the constant flow of people at the door, get the house in order - all while caring for two needy children. After that morning I knew I couldn't do it without some help. Thanks Christina & Lori for being here on Tuesday. I'm amazed at how the kids are handling everything and so thankful that Micah is not being shy of all these new people.

There's a lot of family here now and many more friends and family on the way. It's strange how you can be crying one minute and laughing and telling stories the next. Sometimes I feel like Nathan's just away somewhere and that he'll be back later. I think it's going to sink in tomorrow night when we see him at the viewing. Rosanna said it best though right after we picked out the casket - she said, "I'm thankful I just have to find a place to put his body and not his soul." So true. It isn't Nathan in that casket. He's already busy worshiping in eternity.

I'm going to sing at the funeral. Is that crazy? Rosanna's brother is leading worship and Erik jumped at the chance to play drums. When they mentioned today that I should sing, I felt honored and excited to be up there. It will be good, I think, but really hard.

I talked to Elissa for the first time on the phone tonight. She is being so brave right now with all the surgeries still ahead of her in the next weeks and probably months. She told me tonight that her body is so beat up. More than ever this week I understand that our bodies aren't really our homes. Just thinking of Nathan's death - I know that HE isn't dead. His body was just the place where Nathan lived while he was on earth. And with Elissa - her broken and battered body is completely out of her control. How could I think we were invincible? Somehow I did.

Tonight I had a sliver in my finger. A really painful one. Erik offered to dig it out for me and it was horrible. But I felt so ashamed that I would complain and cry over such a small pain. As Erik was digging away I just closed my eyes and thought of two girls who are not only sisters but best friends - one who is in physical pain on a hospital bed far away and one who's heart is breaking with no end in sight. It sure puts life into perspective.

The funeral is going to be powerful. God is already doing amazing things through Nathan's death. There are so many stories I could share. The ministry accomplished in one man's entire life seems to be equal to what has been accomplished already through one man's death.

Thanks again for all your support and prayers and acts of kindness. Blessings on all of you...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

In Loving Memory

Nathan Paul Toews
June 29, 1983 – July 20, 2007

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news of Erik’s brother’s death. Nathan & Rosanna and Doug & Elissa were traveling to Calgary on Friday afternoon when an oncoming semi rolled over top of them. Nathan was killed instantly. Elissa (at almost 8 months pregnant) was air-lifted to Calgary in critical condition. Rosanna & Doug were both fine, having been on the passenger side of the vehicle.

If that wasn’t enough to grasp, Doug called with the news early Saturday morning to say that he was a Daddy. Elissa gave birth to a 5 lb, 5 oz boy via c-section. The doctors decided to do the surgery after monitoring his heart rate. They named him Caleb Nathan. He has had a few rough moments with his breathing, but appears to be breathing on his own now. The doctors are saying that they will both probably be in the Foothills hospital for another 6 weeks which seems like forever. An answer to prayer is that Elissa does not have the spinal injuries that they first suspected. She still has a long recovery ahead of her though from a severe shoulder injury.

Unfortunately Erik’s parents were in London on the last leg of their month-long trip and we had no way of contacting them by phone. Their flight was due to come back last night (Saturday) and after much discussion we decided it would be best to wait until they could be home with family before giving them the news. We took extra precaution to make sure they wouldn’t find out any other way, which is why many of you found that my blog was inaccessible in the last couple of days. We didn’t want to risk the chance of Erik’s parents reading a comment referring to the accident or offering condolences. Erik had the horrible task of sharing the news with them and I think it was probably one of the hardest moments of his life.

For us the grief comes in waves – moments of acceptance and almost normalcy give way to crying spells and then leave us with a tearless ache that won’t go away. It’s still hard to grasp what has happened and it’s only by the grace of God and the AMAZING Christian community around us that we can find peace and comfort in all of this. There is such sweetness in the tears – the fact that Nathan was an incredible man of God and touched so many people’s lives, the fact that he is home in heaven!, and the fact that there is new life for Doug & Elissa in the midst of the tragedy.
Meet our new nephew...

Doesn't he look so tiny in this picture?

We thank you for all of your prayers and thoughts and phone calls and flowers and offers to help…. It’s overwhelming – in a good way.

The funeral is planned for this Friday, July 27 at 11 am at South Abbotsford Community Church. We know that there will be many, many people there to mourn the death of our brother but also to celebrate the incredible life that he lived.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Proud Mama

Micah's drum skills are continuing to improve. Erik has spent some time with him in recent weeks, teaching him the names of all the drums and cymbals and some basic rythms. He LOVES it. I was so proud the other day so I took another quick video to share with you all...

I also have to brag about my husband's hockey wounds - ha ha. A few months ago he got slashed in the chin by a hockey stick in his ice hockey league (click here if you need to jog your memory) and then he called me Monday night to say he was on his way to emerg because of a slash to the face during his roller hockey game. He was mostly worried about his right eye since it took some of the impact and was really blurry afterwards, but it turned out to be OK. And three stitches seemed to be enough to seal up the wound on his nose :)

Now for an update on the kids...

Micah is growing up before our eyes. Erik and I have noticed in the last week or two how much less he is whining and how much more he is using his words - asking politely for things and not always complaining when we say no. He's definitely not perfect yet :) BUT, the change from even a month ago is pretty dramatic. That's something to be proud of.
Another reason to be proud is that he is turning into such a great eater! He has been so brave to try new things - even broccoli :) This is amazing since there was a time when I was always preparing 2 meals - one for Erik & I, and something "safer" for Micah.

Bedtime battles with Micah aren't over yet and Erik and I have tried so many different tactics already. Right now we are sitting with him until he falls asleep and every couple of nights we move the chair a little further away from his bed. Last night Erik was situated right outside his room where Micah could still kind of see him. It seems to be working so far and the last few nights he's been sleeping by 7:45 (mind you, he's sometimes up before 6, but that's another issue!) I hope we can get to a place where we can just put him down and let that be the end of it!

Keziah is growing too. I can't believe she will be EIGHT months old on Sunday!! Wowsers. She is the main challenge of my day. She is happy when she is being held or if someone is right in her face giving her ALL their attention, but if she can no longer see people she makes herself known. She's a little drama queen already! I'm trying to look at the positive side - that she'll be a real people person as she grows up. So, we'll see. I find there are several moments in the day when I just have to let her fuss in the exersaucer or the highchair or on the floor just because I can't cater to her every whim. I'm a little anxious for her to become more mobile so she entertain herself a bit more, but from the looks of things, that'll be awhile.

Thankfully Keziah is doing much better with drinking her bottle. I've stopped trying to force extra ounces into her between feedings and thus she has a full 4-hour break between bottles and tends to drink much better. Erik told me she drank over 8 ounces for him this morning! What a little porker :)
I'm pretty sure I can feel the tiniest little prick of a tooth coming through her gums - though Erik can't confirm it for me since his fingers are too calloused to feel such things...

And speaking of teeth - I FINALLY went to the dentist yesterday after 2 years (bad, I know, but what can you do when you don't have extended benefits??) I thought for sure my mouth would be full of rotting teeth but there was only ONE measly cavity. That definitely made my day!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Island Vacation

We got back on Saturday night from our 5-day camping trip to the Island. There are so many pictures to post and too many stories to tell - we'll see how far I get with this entry...

Killing time in Horseshoe Bay while we wait for the ferry to Nanaimo.

We spent our first 2 nights at Riverbend Campground in Parksville, BC. We had been there last year when we took a trip with Brad & Nichole.

The kids hanging out in the tent while Erik & I set up camp.

Our cute little campsite.

The campground had it's own little swimming area on the Englishman River. It was perfect - HOT weather & refreshing river water...

We really wanted to go back to Rathtrevor beach after our experience there last year (also with Brad & Nichole). Unfortunately it did not live up to its former glory. The beach is on a massive sand bar and you have to walk about a km & a half to get to the water's edge. The water is very shallow & warm and last year we had a lot of fun there. I knew that we would have to walk a ways to get to the water, but I had expected that the tide would stay put for a while so we could just sit and relax by the water. So, with Keziah loaded in the mei tai and our arms laden with towels, sand toys, snacks, diapers, bottles, sunscreen, a beach umbrella, etc, etc, we started the long walk to the water's edge. We passed by some young families who had set up beside some little shallow pools that the tide had left behind, but we were determined to be right at the water's edge so we just kept walking. Oh how they must've been laughing at us trucking our stuff all that way, but anyway... We finally got close to the water and started setting up our stuff; put down the blanket, shove the beach umbrella into the sand, get Keziah out of the mei tai, break out the toys and the snacks... But, as it turns out the tide was actually moving in already - slowly but surely. Within 10 minutes we decided we'd better start moving our stuff back a bit as the water was approaching. So, we gather everything up and start backtracking to find another spot, set up again, etc... At this point Keziah was starting to get really fussy. She had been woken prematurely from her nap for this event and was a little out of sorts. The breeze coming off the ocean was pretty strong and ripped our umbrella from the sand a couple of times. Then Micah decided to start throwing sand in the air which landed all over our things, including in the chip dip that Erik & I were trying to eat. We had to move back yet again and the whole experience was far from relaxing. At this point, Erik, who (bless his heart) had not complained at all said to me, "To be honest, I'm not having very much fun." I laughed. Erik is usually one to let his feelings be known right off the start, but I knew he had been holding back because he didn't want to ruin a fun family day :) We decided to pack it in and make the long walk back to our car. I loaded Keziah back up in the mei tai and she fell asleep almost instantly. Micah was not impressed with having to make that trek again and he dawdled after us. It took forever. As we passed those same families who were set up closer to the parking lot, we realized how very smart they were! And we felt a little sheepish as they watched us walk back less than an hour after we had arrived.

We still managed to get some pictures though. And I think Micah still had fun :) Here we are playing in the ocean. Gotta love the Sanjaya hairdo I've got going, hey?

Micah playing "sand & pail".

Keziah asleep in the mei tai at the end of our long walk.

So, back to our campground we went. The river beach was much more relaxing! I'm glad we had such a great alternative. The current was perfect for tubing. When you got to the bend in the river it would swirl around and carry you back upstream where you could start all over again.

Erik found a small cliff to jump off a little further downstream.

That just can't be comfortable.

Sandy hands.

Keziah was REALLY difficult during this trip. She has become a very challenging baby and I blame it mostly on teething. Her one stubborn tooth is still pushing against her gums but hasn't broken through. But, the teething aside, Keziah just seems to crave constant attention. We found she was often happiest in her car seat, so we kept her in there during our afternoon at the river and she was pretty content.

Googly eyes.

Keziah's dip in the river.

Camping is dirty.

Bathtime for Keziah in the wash basin:

Micah insisted on bathing in the basin too...

Lots of napping was done in the car. I love this picture of Micah blowing bubbles in his sleep.

On Thursday we packed everything up and headed northwest to Comox Lake to meet with some friends and family at "the cabin". We've been there twice before and it's always an enjoyable time :)

Oh, I love techonology...

Some classic cabin activities included:

1) Rock toss

2) Log walking

3) Floating/Sun-bathing for the ladies :)

Micah joined Nate & Rosanna for an evening canoe ride:

Beware of the Hoops Monster!

Keziah's toothless grin.

Sunset over the lake. Time to head home!

Erik & I agreed that this vacation was fun, but it wasn't very relaxing. In fact we came home exhausted, but I suppose that's camping with kids! Yesterday (the 15th) we celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary! Hard to believe. We didn't do much as we were busy getting our house back in order and catching up on some sleep, but we're hoping to go on a date later this week.

Anyway, that was a marathon of pictures and now I need to get some other things done!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Island Update

Right now I'm sitting in our campsite at Parksville, BC and it is HOT!! Thank goodness our campground has an amazing little river to swim in. Erik & Micah just left for an evening dip (it's almost 7 pm) and I'm staying back while Keziah sleeps. The campground has a great wireless connection and I couldn't help but post a quick blog update. Sorry, no pictures - I actually tried uploading some and couldn't.

So far the vacation has fun - though not what Erik or I would define as restful. I guess it comes with the territory of having two busy & demanding young children. Anyway, we're off to Comox Lake tomorrow to join some others at Jon's cabin. Should be some good times :)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Pool Party at Our Place!

Canadian Tire came through for us this weekend with a brand new kiddie pool and it couldn't have come at a better time! Micah spent most of the day in it on Saturday (and is also sporting his new life-jacket in this picture)...

Keziah enjoyed splashing around a bit as well.

Today (Sunday) we had some good friends from our Bethany days, Craig & Jen, stop by for a visit:

Craig shocked Micah with stories of his dad's Bible school antics :)

Craig & Jen snapped a fun family picture for us...

Now it's vacation time! We are off in a couple of days for the Island. I'm looking forward to it, but there is still SO much to pack!!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Bottles, Bedtime & the Beach

It’s been a hot week – finally! I’m loving it. I can honestly say that I love the heat since our basement suite provides a cool respite from it. Sometimes I actually feel a little chilled and then I just go outside and stand in the sun for a few minutes – mmm, lovely.

Keziah catching some z's at D&E's last weekend:

Well, it looks like breastfeeding Keziah is officially over. I was hoping to hang onto our morning feedings, but my supply quickly depleted and I found I was supplementing with a bottle every morning anyway. So, that’s that I guess. Now that she is taking bottles full-time, however, I can see exactly how much she is (or isn’t) drinking. So, now I have a new thing to worry about. Some days she drinks only 15 oz and even that is a struggle to get in her. I felt like today was a REALLY good day since she had about 20 oz. I asked some other moms on Babycenter and discovered that there are other babies out there who don’t drink a lot. And then some moms said their 7 month olds were drinking 30-40 oz. or more!! Wow. It’s been frustrating feeding her because she’ll drink steadily for a couple of minutes and then push the bottle away only to cry for it again a few minutes later. We do this for almost an hour with every bottle. It’s like she’s super-thirsty but gets annoyed at me for always shoving this thing in her face. Weird, since she’s been drinking from the bottle for months. I hope it’s just a phase.

Here is Micah playing in his homemade water table. We decided to throw out his inflatable pool a couple of weeks ago since it kept losing air, and we were hoping to just buy a hard plastic pool, but we haven’t been able to find one anywhere! Any suggestions?

I mentioned in my last post that Micah’s sleeping has been bad again. Last night he had Erik and I up countless times again. We used to be able to settle him down by taking him to the potty (I think he was uncomfortable with a full bladder but couldn’t recognize it in his sleepy state), but now we are dealing with multiple offenses every night for many hours at a time. It’s ridiculous and frustrating. Especially when our seven month old sleeps the whole night through. I just don’t know what to do anymore. We have tried shortening naps (and sometimes eliminating it altogether) and it doesn't seem to make a difference. We are starting to take away privileges but I’m not sure that will work… Erik is good at reminding me that we can pray about these kinds of things. So, that’s a good start! But I’d love some advice. Has anyone else had success with stopping these night-wakings?

On a happier note, we are looking forward to a little family vacation next week. I could tell you what we’re going to do, but I’ll let Micah fill you in (he’s most excited about playing “sand and pail”…)