Warren married me to get my children!
Of course, I’m being facetious. That is not exactly how it was … but he did want those three kiddos in his life!
We did not go anywhere without my chattering chicks trailing behind!
Restaurants, movies, sight-seeing — it didn’t matter! They were with us! I do not remember having a single date alone with my husband-to-be. I would occasionally suggest a one-on-one outing together, but Warren would say, “Ahhh, let’s just take the kids!”
Though it was clear that he cherished me, he was truly energized and found his fulfillment in interacting with the family as a whole.
My children loved him, too! What joy he brought to their lives!
A friend of his had heard we had started dating and actually contacted Warren, warning him to “be careful” because “she has three children, and they will drain you!”
Warren thanked her for her advice and sought to spend another “date night” with the family right after that encounter.
He played with paper dolls and trucks, gave the kids rides on the lawn mower, and held my youngest by the ankles, threatening to put her in the washing machine head first, much to her delight. These were just a few of the fun activities they did together.
I remember many days seeing my children lining up, Warren shoveling his mother’s delectable desserts into their mouths wide open like baby birds — going without a morsel himself! The ultimate sacrifice! But it gave him joy to share his sweets with these kiddos who had wormed their way into his heart!
Oh, how I treasure those precious early memories!
After we were married, nothing changed. Because Warren and the children had a good relationship, and because the biological father had not taken advantage of visitations, it seemed natural for Warren to step into the role of “father,” assisting me with training and discipline. I trusted him completely, and he did not let me down.
Truth be known, this 32-year-old-never-been-married-before husband of mine was a better parent than I! More patient with their training. More consistent and wise in his discipline. He was simply amazing!
So when the biological father contacted Warren a year after our marriage, telling him that he had been to an attorney and had drawn up the papers to terminate his parental rights and responsibilities, my husband was thrilled. However, as eager as he was to make the children his own, he asked the biological father to “give it some time” and to be “absolutely sure” that he understood the ramifications of that monumental decision.
Seeming to be in a hurry to finalize the adoption, the biological father reluctantly agreed to wait out the specified time period that Warren had given him to seriously consider the consequences. Warren knew what a big step this would be and did not want the biological father to regret it.
The biological father phoned Warren at the end of the period extended for reconsideration — on the very day, to be exact — and informed him that he had not changed his mind. Then he notified Warren of the date for signing the papers.
The adoption papers included a few “negotiation” statements regarding expenses. I remember Warren saying that if this was going to be about money, then he (Warren) was the one getting the “bargain,” for he would be the recipient of the children — the ones who already held his heart.
So on February 9, 1983, Warren became their legal father with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities that came with it. He eagerly welcomed it all! Oh, how he loved his three chosen children!
Now he was “Dad” in every sense of the word!
We went on to have two more daughters, and I watched with great interest to see if there would be any signs of “preference” for his biological children. I can say with certainty that there was not a whit of favoritism! If a baby was on his lap and one of the older children wanted his attention, he would set the baby aside every time and tend to the older child’s needs.
(I, on the other hand, was not quite as accommodating.)
In the beginning, people would ask Warren, “So which of these kids are ‘yours’?” Incensed, Warren would always reply, “They’re ALL mine!”
Now, over 35 years later, people only ask that question on rare occasions — mostly when an old friend comes back into our lives. Since the past doesn’t come up in our conversations, most people don’t realize that an adoption took place. Though we don’t hide it, there is no reason to advertise it. They are all Warren’s children.
For Warren, the adoption was more than a legal contract – the signing of that document was a relationship of promise, like a vow spoken in a wedding ceremony. And he has honored every ounce of that promise to his children.
Occasionally, through those early years, we would sit up together with sick children at night. (Warren graciously volunteered for “vomit duty” — bless his heart!) Throughout the years, he helped me wipe their noses and wipe their tears. He dressed their wounds and attended their games, their recitals, their parent/teacher conferences, and their doctors’ appointments.
He was one committed daddy!
Our son Ryan lived only 3 1/2 years after the adoption. People who didn’t know about the adoption would tell us that Ryan looked “just like his father,” which caused Warren’s heart to soar. Together, we grieved our son’s tragic death, and Warren sorrowed every bit as much as if Ryan were his biological son.
As the girls grew older, Warren taught them how to drive before their appointed time … much to my chagrin! When they became “legal” drivers, he taught them how to change the oil in their cars and how to change a flat tire so they would not be dependent on anyone.
And that crazy daddy actually had an application form for boys who wanted to date his daughters! The boys had to endure a painful “personal interview,” as Mr. Snyder would inquire about their driving records, their relationships with Christ, and other pertinent questions.
Dating a Snyder girl was not for the faint of heart!
Surprisingly, one of those young men actually came back years later and thanked Warren for the “third degree,” as grueling as it was for him!
(But only one, mind you!)
Yes, that daddy was all in!
How blessed I am to have a man who loved my children (and me) like that … and how blessed all five of my children are to have a father like him!
Our family’s adoption story is a beautiful allegory of what happens to believers in terms of our relationship with our Heavenly Father. We were adopted into the family of God the very moment we received His offer of salvation through Christ! We didn’t do anything to earn the right to be called children of God — we simply believed and received … and so His children we became! (John 1:12)
God loved us and chose us … and we responded to His hand reaching by gratefully embracing all the rights and privileges that accompanied our adoption into His family.
We became full beneficiaries of all that is His!
That is who we are and Whose we are!
Warren wanted my children to be his, just as God the Father wanted us to be His! And Warren’s love for the children was (and is) sacrificial, unconditional and is lavishly poured out equally on all of his girls — just like our Heavenly Father’s love for mankind was sacrificial, unconditional and was lavishly poured out equally on all of us when He sent His only begotten Son to pay for our sin by dying on the Cross of Calvary.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1)
See what great love Warren has lavished on his chosen ones, that they should be called his very own children!
What a beautiful picture of our value and worth in God’s eyes!
What a beautiful picture of my children’s value and worth in Warren’s eyes!
Earthly stories that depict heavenly truths are some of my favorite things!
I am blessed.
My children are blessed …
but their daddy is even more blessed.
If you don’t believe me …
just ask him!
Depression isn’t a normal emotion for me, but I’ve had my share of it this week due to a recent crisis in our family. (Read previous posts.)
Depression is stifling. Not fun. Even a little bit scary.
Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him… ~Psalm 42:5 (Even David is found here to be chiding himself out of the dumps!)
Sometimes circumstances can overwhelm us, and Satan would like us to believe that it’s sinful and shameful to be depressed. He also wants us to believe we can solve our problems in our own strength.
New flash! We can’t.
Are you depressed?
Get some sunshine.
Do a project you love.
Listen to edifying music.
Sing praises — even if you don’t feel like it.
Read God’s Word — especially Psalms.
Talk to Him. Ask for help …
… for He is your Shield, your Glory, and the Lifter of your head. ~Psalm 3:3
Talk to trusted friends and godly counselors.
This is the body of Christ in action …
… for when one part suffers, every part suffers with it. ~1 Corinthians 12:26
You are not alone.
Reach out. Reach out. Reach out.
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning. ~Psalm 30:5
That is His promise.
We received the life-altering phone call a month and three days ago. There have been some good moments and some not-so-good moments.
Until now, I never understood the horrendous emotions that ebb and flow for the casualties of suicide. One month later, this tragedy still ruthlessly rips at our souls. We miss our grandson desperately and are heartsick that he was hurting so deeply before he left this world.
But, through it all, God’s faithfulness has been evident … and we will all be okay, cloaked in His arms of mercy and love.
We came home to news of my cousin’s death, a birthday invitation, a shower invitation, and bills and tasks galore — a stark reminder that the cycle of life continues. It does not stop and wait for anyone.
We came home to a fresh new outpouring of love from friends who care about us. Rainfalls of phone calls … visits … hugs … tears … messages … cards … and, yes, even some yummy food!
We came home to an awkward silence from a few who also care but have made themselves scarce, no doubt in order to avoid saying something they fear might be “wrong.” We understand, and it’s okay. I wouldn’t know what to say either. It can’t be easy.
At any rate, we know we are loved and have deeply appreciated all of the concern and prayers that have gone out for our family.
Admittedly, though, I am a little weepy and a lot tired. And “buzzy.” Yes, I feel buzzy. Does anyone understand what I’m talking about?
It’s as if I’m walking around in a vibrating machine which has a continuous numbing effect as I attempt my daily routines. (The closest comparison would be the feeling we have after taking off roller skates.)
Maybe it’s God’s anesthesia — a blessing in disguise.
My concern runs deep for our daughter and son-in-law who are grieving so, and for all of Tyler’s siblings and the rest of our extended family — aunts and uncles, and younger cousins who looked up to him as a great example. (He was a great example and always will be in many ways). They have all been profoundly affected by Tyler’s sudden and unexpected death.
But God …
He stands with us and gives us strength. This tidal wave did not come as a surprise to Him. He is carrying us … and the sun will shine again … and He will bring beauty out of these ashes.
Joy will come in the morning.
Glory to His Name, our Risen Savior … the One who conquered sin and death on the Cross for all who would place their faith and trust in Him and Him alone.
And because His body was resurrected, so will ours be when we hear that Trumpet Call!
That is our Blessed Hope. Our Hope of Glory.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come.
(Please read “Tribute to Tyler” before reading this if you haven’t done so already.)
I spoke with my daughter Kirsten this morning.
She was crying.
We cried together.
She said she didn’t know why Tyler had had to struggle for so many years with multiple health problems. She was sorrowing not just over his death, but over the suffering he endured prior to his death.
She was questioning the purpose of it all … as was I.
A little while after we hung up, I “heard” that still small voice,
“It hurt My heart to watch My Son suffer on the Cross, but much good came from it. I know the pain Kirsten and Mike are feeling, and I have placed them in the unique position of knowing MY pain. My people could not make sense of His suffering either, and they were disappointed. This was not their idea of what the promised Messiah had come to do.”
I called to tell Kirsten about this strange thing I had just “heard” deep in my spirit.
“MOM!” she said excitedly, “He spoke exactly the same thing to ME a little while after we hung up!”
And then she went on to say that she is comforted that her Heavenly Father really understands her heartache and that He has enabled her and Mike to identify with the grief He’d had watching HIS own Son suffer.
I also thought of Mary, Jesus’ mother, as she watched her precious One agonize on the Cross. She also surely wondered, “Why does this have to be?”
Then Kirsten and I talked about Jesus’ resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit — and all the GOOD that comes from Jesus now being able to live inside us through His Spirit — all the lives that can be changed as He works through His children to reach others for His Kingdom!
Paralleling that … good will come from the relational bridge this will give Kirsten and Mike to reach out to others with the comfort they themselves have received from God in their own brokenness (2 Corinthians 1:4).
They have “earned the right” to speak to others about this kind of sorrow, and God only knows the lives they will impact! What an incredible platform!
We reminded ourselves that it didn’t just stop with the Father’s pain in the suffering of His Son because JOY came on Resurrection Morning.
Likewise, it doesn’t just stop with our pain in watching Ty suffer and ultimately die because JOY will come in the morning for us also, as we fix our eyes on Jesus.
And just as Jesus’ body was glorified in His resurrection, so will Ty’s imperfect body one day be raised to perfection. So many parallels!
No more pain. No more suffering!
He will indeed exchange our spirits of heaviness for garments of praise (Isaiah 61:3)!
What a glorious hope!
And here is a little “incidental” that precipitated this event: After I had hung up from Kirsten the first time, I received a text from my friend Hope asking how she could pray for us today. I didn’t give her any details but told her I had been on the phone with Kirsten and that she wasn’t doing well. I asked her to pray that God would give me the words she needed to hear because I was going to call her back.
The story above happened after I replied to Hope’s text. I praise God that He spoke to her at that very moment and that she was obedient to contact me and pray right then.
God moved in our lives in a supernatural (and healing) way this morning in direct response to Hope’s timely prayer!
I also believe this amazing story would not have been possible without ALL of your prayers! You all have been diligent in lifting us up to the Father’s Throne, and we deeply appreciate it.
THIS is the body of Christ in action! I marvel at the goodness of our God (and the loving support of His people)!
Thank you, Lord, and thank you all. We are blessed beyond measure!
Nothing catches God by surprise.
Psalm 139:16b ~ All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
In His foreknowledge, our eternal, omniscient Father knew what Tyler would do that cold winter morning, January 8, 2018.
But we didn’t.
Warren and I were 1400 miles from home, visiting our daughter Alicia and her family. Ben, her husband, had already gone to work. Alicia, our six grandchildren, Warren and I were sitting around the table enjoying a leisurely breakfast when Warren’s phone rang.
That wasn’t unusual. His phone rings all the time.
But this time it was different.
Bone-chilling screams of shuddersome alarm thundered from Warren’s cell phone to my ears.
Determining that “the caller” was in major distress, I strained to understand the words. Amidst the garbled inaudible wails, I was eventually able to make out three horrifying words.
I realized that the caller was our oldest daughter Kirsten — not because I recognized her voice, but because of those three words that I did understand:
“Tyler shot himself!!!”
Words cannot describe the anguish I felt once I realized that the deafening cries coursing through Warren’s phone were pouring from the lips of our daughter, telling us that our oldest grandson had passed away.
The events that followed were a blur. I only remember writhing on the dining room floor with gut-wrenching screams streaming from the depths of my soul. “No! NO! N000!” as if shouting the words would make it go away.
This was a nightmare. This wasn’t happening! This was a mistake!
Warren and the grandkids hurriedly loaded boxes and bags into our van, while Ben scrambled to find plane tickets from Duluth to Boise for Alicia and myself. We began throwing our belongings helter-skelter into our carry-ons; and before I knew it, we were being whisked away in a jet plane.
At the same time, our other two daughters, Lindsay and Rebekah, were flying from their respective states — Texas and Maryland. Warren started the long journey home (alone) in our van after dropping us off at the airport, and Ben took the children back to their Wisconsin home.
Kirsten desperately wanted me to be there with her — first, because I was her mom; second, because I knew the sting of death, for we had lost our only son (Kirsten’s brother) in an accident in 1986.
Had we been home, I would have been a short 2 1/2-hour drive away, but this trip was going to take much longer. How I wanted (and needed) to be with my grief-stricken girl!!!
On the several-hour flight across the country (with two long layovers), I mused about another time that Kirsten was crying for her mama.
We were sitting in my car in the hospital’s parking lot where five-year-old Tyler had been rushed to ER after collapsing. I remembered my daughter falling into my arms with body-wracking sobs after being told of Tyler’s diagnosis — juvenile diabetes.
The thought that she would be responsible for keeping her little boy alive for the duration of his childhood was a heavy burden that brought fear to my girl’s heart.
I searched for comforting words.
Comforting words eluded me.
She wept bitterly. I wept with her.
As time went on, I stood in awe of our Great Prayer-Hearing-Prayer-Answering God, as I witnessed Tyler easing into his new way of life, and Kirsten valiantly learning all she could about the disease with a strong resolve to control her son’s erratic blood sugars.
Tyler and I had special times together. He loved to have me read stories to him when he was little. (I saw evidence of great intelligence!)
In the winter, we made awesome snow angels, while he and his grandpa built some pretty amazing snowmen together.
In the summertime, we floated on paddle boats and tossed pieces of bread to ducks. We ate pizza together and watched hot air balloons.
His grandpa likes to tell stories of Ty going to the shop with him. Warren let Tyler operate some of the big machinery — his all-time favorite was the forklift. He also enjoyed riding up and down on the electric hoist and turning the creeper into a skateboard! Papa’s shop was better than any amusement park for that boy!
As Ty grew older, however, he became more and more discontent with the constant need to monitor his blood sugar and the accompanying restrictions.
Tyler had had a dream to follow in his father’s footsteps by serving in the military. That dream, however, would now be thwarted because of his diabetes.
This crushed him.
But then he learned that he could still be a hero by becoming a firefighter. So this is what Ty pursued with gusto! When he was invited to choose a destination by The Wishing Star Foundation, he chose Ground Zero in New York City where he was able to meet real firemen, ride in a fire truck, and gain a good understanding of his future career.
Ty never gave up on his dream, despite many hardships with his health. He was a great student in school — his teachers loved him — and he continued to be as active as he could be, even taking up rock climbing as a favorite pastime! Ty did not lie around feeling sorry for himself!
He went to fire school and was given the Rookie of the Year Award in 2016. Firefighting was his passion! We were (and still are) extremely proud of him!
Yet, even though he was now this big guy with an important job, he still made time for his “grammey.” He always called me “Grammey,” as do all of my grandkids. (There is a reason for that spelling, but I won’t go into it here.)
So here he was, a twenty-year-old man, introducing me to his big, tough buddies as “Grammey”!
I wanted to relieve Tyler of what I thought might be an embarrassment to him, or a misguided obligation to call me that, so I told him he didn’t have to call me Grammey now that he was a grown man — that he could introduce me as his “grandma.” But Tyler was incensed by that suggestion and reprimanded me.
“You are my grammey, and you will always be my grammey!”
I guess he put me in my place!
Tyler texted me occasionally and sometimes called just to check up on me. That boy loved me and I loved him.
There was the time I peppered him with texts when his sister Hayley was in labor. I informed him of her progress every few minutes, just to get a rise out of him. But, bent on getting the last word — which, in this case was absolute silence — he never replied; so my only recourse was to keep flooding his inbox with “pertinent birthing information,” which is what I did — from 4:36 am until 9:02 am, to which he finally replied, “Any news???”
I told him he was a “brat,” but that I “loved [him] anyway.” I still have all of my texts with Ty, and I will keep them for as long as I live.
The last time we were together, he joked, “I run into buildings to save people, but my life is not fulfilled if I don’t have Grammey!”
And yes, he used that name! He said that, in fact, he “had a tear in his eye, just thinking of being with [me] again,” wiping away a fake tear and continuing to schmooze me, much to my delight!
Then there was the time that he caused me to literally faint with fright, but the joke was on him because he nearly had to use some of his life-saving techniques to bring me back! It served him right!
How I will miss the laughter we enjoyed together!
Ty was highly respected by his fellow firefighters. The West Valley Fire District of Oregon (where he was when he passed away) is going to hold a memorial picnic in Ty’s honor, celebrating their Rope Rescue Certification for Firefighters (which Tyler helped them acquire with passionate persistence — even boldly stepping out of “protocol” to push it through, which was so “Ty-esq”).
However, in September of 2017, something happened that caused Tyler to spiral downward with depression. He had taken some insulin (his daily routine) and then had gone to fight wildfires which were rapidly spreading all over the west coast. Because of the extra exertion, along with the regular dose of insulin, his blood sugar dropped and he had a diabetic seizure while on the job.
He was given an ambulance ride back to his home district — a disappointment Tyler never overcame, and a disappointment which ultimately had a part in his passing away three short months later, as he, at that time (unbeknownst to us), had decided to stop taking his long-term insulin so as to avoid another seizure.
When they found him in his car that cold January morning, we were told that his blood sugar was over 850 — an astronomically high level. A normal reading, I understand, is between 80 and 100.
When Ty had made the decision to take his own life, he could not have been in a state of clear thinking with a sugar level of that degree. It appears that, for Ty, the pain of life had become greater than the pain of death … so he chose the lesser pain.
The sorrow for us has been intense. But God’s Spirit has ministered to us in amazing ways — through His Word mostly, but also through music and through His people.
We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and concern of those who love us and those who love Ty. Thank you to everyone who called, came over, prayed for us and with us, sent cards and text messages, sent flowers, and sent money to our kids to help pay for the funeral expenses. May God bless you all abundantly for the way you have ministered to our family!
We also thank the West Valley Fire Department for coming all this way to celebrate Tyler’s life with us. Their words of comfort and the stories they told blessed our family immensely!
We take great comfort in knowing that, as a younger boy, Tyler had given his heart to Jesus. He had acknowledged that he was a sinner in need of a Savior and that Jesus was his only hope of salvation. Tyler had trusted in Christ’s work on the Cross and had received Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. Awhile later, he had wanted to make his faith public through water baptism (which had been videoed and was shown at his funeral). Tyler is with Jesus now, and we rejoice in that! (Please read the italicized portion at the bottom of this article.)
Our Tyler is not “gone” as some would say. His body is still here, but Tyler is not here. He has simply moved to a different place — and now he waits, along with saints of old, to be united with his resurrected body. As Jesus’ body was resurrected, so will ours be (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18), and we will finally be set free from the last trace of the Fall (We Shall See God ~ Charles Spurgeon’s Classic Devotional Thoughts on Heaven ~ Randy Alcorn).
Ty’s resurrected body will be glorious! No more pain. No more suffering …
… and no more finger pricks!
And our Mighty God will wipe away every tear … and He will right every wrong.
THIS is our Blessed Hope … and to Him be the glory!
He is Risen Indeed!
If you are hurting, please do not take your own life. God has a plan to give you a future and a hope. You have a purpose. No matter how bad things may seem to you right now, please do not rush into the Throne Room of God before your time. I encourage you to find strength and peace from the Lord to keep on living.
Also, please seek out friends and medical professionals. Cultivate relationships with them so they can comfort and help you in your pain. God wants to bring you through this. There is a better way. The sun WILL shine again.
And remember … there is no hole so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. My life verse, since coming to know Jesus as my Savior in 1977, has been Psalm 40:1-3. I came upon that passage when I myself was despairing because of circumstances in my life, and God did exactly this for me … and He can (and will) do it for you if you will turn to Him.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
Have you put your trust in Him? Here is how you can do that:
- All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Talk to God, confessing to Him that you have done wrong things.
- The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). Acknowledge to God that you do not deserve to go to heaven based on your own merits. Acknowledge that eternal life is a gift offered to you by God Himself through His Son’s work on the Cross.
- To as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12). What do you do when someone offers you a gift? You accept it. You open it. You appropriate it. Through prayer, invite Jesus into your heart and life as your personal Lord and Savior, trusting only in Him.
- Find a good Bible-believing church that teaches salvation through Christ’s blood that was shed for you — not good works, nor membership in a “certain church,” for there is only One Way to heaven, and that Way is through Christ, and Christ alone. Hebrews 10:25 says not to forsake the assembling together with other believers in Jesus.
Problems will still come. Life on this planet isn’t easy. But with Jesus in your heart, you will never be alone, for He says he will never leave you nor forsake you. Look to Him … and live.
In loving memory of our grandson, Tyler Michael Steen, who passed away unexpectedly on the morning of January 8, 2018.
And there arose a great storm. Mark 4:37
Have you noticed that some storms of life come suddenly?
They unexpectedly rush from the distant, jagged edges of the horizon to consume our bright and sunny skies.
Yet it is in the storm that God equips each one of us for platforms and areas of service that we’d rather not have (but which have been designed specifically for us).
I wonder why it has to be that way …
… but then I think about the beauties of nature that come after the storm.
… and I think about the heroes of faith who were tempest-tossed and battle-scarred, yet left their victories in the footprints of time.
Storms can pound us down into the darkened valley of bitterness and cynicism, or they can lift us up to the sunlit summits of a deeper and richer faith.
(How can we not remember our beloved Corrie ten Boom who taught us this principle with incredible dignity and grace?)
Lord, if it takes storms to become more tender, to become more compassionate, to become more useful in Your Kingdom, to become more like You who suffered and died for us, then do what You must to make me into the kind of woman You want me to be.
May I fear no storm. May I fear no THING or no ONE …
… no ONE but You.