About Valerie Curren and her family

Page amended June 2017…

Valerie Curren is a Christian foremost.  She is also a wife, mother, Licensed Professional Counselor, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and seemingly tireless (medical, educational, therapeutic, interpersonal) Advocate for her complex special needs son, who has Autism Spectrum idiosyncrasies and many other challenging conditions.  She’s an avid reader, enjoys movies, Netflix, family hangout times, the Northwoods of Michigan, laughter, deep “real” issues & conversations, and the many eclectic wanderings of her fertile mind.  She has been writing a CarePages.com medically focused blog addressing the myriad needs of her special son as well as numerous tidbits about her family for several years now.  This blog can be found here:

http://www.carepages.com/carepages/JournalingForTheJazzman

Four of the six Curren family members have been officially diagnosed with ADHD and the remaining two members carry many of these traits.  Valerie has been present (usually alone) for all the surgeries faced by her children which now number 22, divided between her 3 sons.  Her oldest son, Nathaniel, underwent 3 procedures to repair (twice) a complex displaced break of the forearm and later to remove hardware used in the repair to prevent potential future problems.  Her second son, Brandon, had a skin graft to repair a severed tip of a finger and procedure to repair a birth defect.  Brandon’s twin brother, Josiah, has been the very medically complex person of the family, and has undergone 17 surgeries & countless procedures & interventions over the years.  He has been described by a couple of his providers as “one of the most complex, if not the most complex person I’ve ever seen–and that’s saying something since they only send me the complex kids” and “perhaps the most complicated kid in my practice” (by a doctor whose Entire Practice is dedicated to complex special needs children and their families!  Clarissa, the youngest and only girl of the family, has thankfully never needed surgical intervention, although she did have a few years of speech therapy during early childhood.

The twins were born prematurely deliberately to save Josiah’s life.  At two months of age J had Open Heart Surgery to repair a VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect) and had a subsequent Open Heart Surgery when he was 4 1/2  to remove an overgrowth of tissue beginning to block the  blood flow through his malformed (Bi-Cuspid rather than the normal Tri-Cuspid) Aortic Valve.  Further surgery on J’s heart pends until his aortic valve and/or aortic root requires repair/replacement…and unless medical science sufficiently advances this is anticipated to require another Open Heart procedure.

Josiah has has a series of surgeries on his ears to correct fluid build up, balance problems, and associated reversible hearing loss.  He also required 3 stages of repair for a birth defect, 2 surgeries to correct hernias, a tonsillectomy, and most recently eye surgery to “correct” (we now have conflicting info as to how actually successful this surgery has been) congenital double vision.  The Jazzman page referenced above grew out of the virtual simultaneous diagnosis of Brain Tumor and Liver Masses/Tumors.  Josiah had the Brain Tumor, an Adenoma, removed through his nose (Transphenoidal Resection of a Pituitary Adenoma)so has (thankfully) no visible external scarring.  The Liver was biopsied about a half year before the Brain Surgery as it was unclear at that time which situation was preeminent.  This biopsy sampled several of the dozens of masses within his swiss-cheese-looking liver and at that time these lesions were declared “normal liver tissue”.

About two years after the Liver Biopsy those historical biopsy samples were re-evaluated/re-examined under newer liver protocols and the Currens were told that Josiah needed a whole organ Liver Transplant.  This transplant situation put Valerie into a significant tailspin and required a lot of time, space, and ultimately the transplant surgery itself to lead to some degree of “resolution” of the internal turmoil she faced.  Surgery was ultimately quite successful and has been followed by virtually no complications.  However being Post-Transplant will require lifelong medical care…as will Josiah’s Congenital Heart issues…

There have been many other medical issues faced by Josiah primarily, but also to a smaller degree, other family members. Here’s a smattering of many of the issues faced by one or more of the Curren family members: Asthma, Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Diabetes/Hypoglycemia, Vision Challenges, Sensory Processing Disorder, Executive Function Disorder, Auditory Processing Problems, Visual Processing Problems, unspecified Neurological impairments/issues, Skin Cancer, Colon Polyps, Eczema, Sleep Disorders (including CPAP usage), Positional Head Deformity (including using an Orthotic Helmet to help reshape the skull), RSV (requiring 2 hospitalizations during infancy), Growth Hormone Deficiency, Low Muscle Tone/Mild Cerebral Palsy, Femoral Antiversion, Presumed but as-yet Unidentified Genetic Syndrome, Gross & Fine Motor Weaknesses, & congenital birth defects in multiple systems amongst others that currently escape me…

The seemingly biggest and most impacting challenge on a day-in and day-out basis though would be Josiah’s Autism Spectrum issues.  There has been debate as to whether he is “truly” autistic, as his presentation was more of a PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified) or Atypical Autism pattern than one of classic autism, per se; though apparently now the term of art/choice seems to be Autism Spectrum to reflect the highly personalized presentation of symptoms and idiosyncrasies associated with this “condition”.  Regardless of what the “actual” name for this aspect of Josiah’s personality/thinking process/behavior is, the family, and Josiah himself, has come to see Autism as being the overarching aspect or descriptor of the more complex and atypical patterns of learning, interacting, sensing, processing, and/or behaving that he exhibits.

Because of the magnitude and complexity of Josiah’s challenges his entrance into the Curren family caused a major shift in focus for his mother primarily.  We were thrust completely unprepared into the arena of Special Needs.  This started with Pregnancy interventions (including Celestone shots & Bed-Rest) while Valerie was pregnant with the twins, but definitely escalated following their birth.  There was the NICU–NeoNatal Intensive Care Unit–(10 days for Brandon & 2 1/2 months for Josiah), Open Heart Surgery, re-hospitalization with a life threatening respiratory (RSV) infection (including an across Michigan ambulance ride for Josiah & Valerie), near emergency surgery on inguinal hernias during the post-op phase of heart surgery, home nurses, medication, Failure to Thrive, Developmental Assessment Clinics, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Sensory Integration Therapy, Music Therapy, Art Therapy, Psychological Therapy, more surgeries, Special Ed Pre-school (in our home &/or Josiah’s grandparents’ home due to medical travel issues and later in 3 different pre-school programs–one specifically designed for Autistic kids where the principal who toured us asked “why hasn’t he been here all along?”), regular pre-school for the twins together, Christian school (one month only for Josiah, but his siblings went for virtually K-8), then Special Education at the Elementary, Middle, & Senior High Schools.

In spite of myriad medical and therapeutic, interpersonal and behavioral challenges we have faced managing Josiah’s many needs over the years…it is no exaggeration to say that our greatest challenges and perhaps most brutal sorrows have really had their nucleus and genesis in our battles with Special Education, at least once we had to deal with this arena beyond the pre-school level.  We have had many heartaches and frustrations and minimal, if any, real gains in this domain.  These battles began in earnest in 2001, shortly after 9-11 and have continued in varying forms to the present day.  In fact we are currently regrouping from an extremely frustrating gladiatorial contest in which we were wounded and bound before even being allowed to enter the arena…and whereby we were forced to face the “enemy” en masse without so much as a sling nor our five smooth stones…

This Special Ed battleground will certainly inspire numerous postings within the body of this blog as time goes on for the very existence of this blog is an outgrowth of Valerie’s coping process as she attempts to assess, re-group, plan, and execute another, hopefully more successful for Josiah (and others) approach regarding education and a potential redress of grievances…We’ll likely be keeping any interested parties posted regarding some of these developments here or at the Jazzman page.

On a separate front, Valerie grew up, and currently lives, in the Metropolitan Detroit region.  She attended college (BS Bio-Medical Chemistry, Pre-Med) and grad schools (MA Christian Counseling & studies to obtain prerequisites for counseling licensure) while in Oklahoma.  She is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Michigan, though currently not practicing.  Oklahoma is where she and her husband Michael met.  He was born in Denver but later moved to Tulsa with his mother when his parents’ marriage ended.  Michael attended college in Oklahoma (studies toward BS in Electrical Engineering Technology and Associates of Electronics Technology) and Michigan (Bachelor’s in Management and Organizational Development).  They spent their early married life between Tulsa and Northern Michigan, where they bought their first home and their three sons were born.  They later moved to Metro Detroit to be nearer to high caliber medical care for Josiah at the University of Michigan Medical Center and due to a job change.  Their daughter, Clarissa, was born during the upheaval process of their move between Northern and Southeastern Michigan.

Valerie participated for a number of years on the Children’s Special Health Care Services Advisory Board as a Parent Representative.  This Board advised the Michigan State Legislature on issues surrounding this last-resort insurance that covered a small percentage of Michigan’s children with qualifying diagnoses, like Josiah.  She also has functioned as Josiah’s Representative Payee for his SSI case for virtually his whole life.  She is now turning her focus to creating some type of “Transition Program” tailor-made to address Josiah’s specific issues and the limitations of the family (financially, locationally, participatorialy) since this arena, even though Legally MANDATED by IDEA (special education law) was given virtually no attention by the school system, which a major reason for the current & historical disputes in this arena.

In fact, Valerie has spent a significant portion of the last 10-15 years educating herself in Special Education Law and Advocacy in her efforts to attempt to secure a more “appropriate” education for Josiah.  She was told by a Law Professor who oversaw a Disability Law Clinic at a regional university that she seemed to understand the Special Ed Law “better than 98% of the parents” he had interfaced with.  He actually encouraged her to go to Law School once her then dispute with the local school district was finally resolved.  In reality the issues that drove that more formal process nearly a decade ago continued to percolate and fester ever since and were to some degree related to the current issues of extreme dispute that were the subject of a recent “Due Process Hearing Request” in an attempt to protect and ensure Josiah’s access to appropriate education to prepare him for life beyond high school…Ironically, in her quite exhaustive review of Josiah’s Special Education file in preparation for the most recent Due Process Hearing Request she discovered that the paperwork generated during the First Special Ed Hearing situation (that resulted in a “settlement”)  shows that the school system Violated the Terms of that Settlement Literally the Very Day They Signed the Agreement–apparently knowing that they were virtually untouchable and that they would/did suffer zero consequences.  Talk about tilting at windmills…wow…

Valerie was active on the School Board for several years when their children attended a local Christian School as School Board Secretary and served on several committees (like Curriculum, Finance, and Personnel) giving her a broader exposure to educational issues at the local, smaller school level.  Michael spent years involved in the lay ministry of their current local church carrying various roles of Elder, Head Elder, Trustee, Deacon, and Worship Director; while Valerie spent the last few years acting as their church’s Governing Board Secretary.  She also worked in the church office as the Administrative Assistant, the first “official” job she’d had since parenthood, being primarily a stay-at-home mother.  She began that office job only a few months after Josiah’s Liver Transplant and the demands of this work outside the home meant that she ended up sacrificing what time she had left to process & advocate for her son in the special ed domain.  She’s still dealing with her own internal fallout for this decision and its ramifications.  Did she sacrifice her son’s needs & her own sanity (to some degree) to care for the office needs of her small local church…and was that decision the “right” one…and what now, if anything, can be done to attempt to rectify the situation & address her son’s legitimate needs/rights that were unaddressed by the school system legally mandated to provide for these things.

Both Valerie & Michael participated in church music ministry in Northern Michigan (V vocals and M drums–self taught) and also acted as Youth Leaders/Pastors (?) before becoming  parents.  Michael continues in Church Music ministry currently playing Bass, again self taught, and working on the Sound Board, as needed.  He is developing a “new” Worship Band with a couple of his fellow musicians from his Binding Faith days and will likely get to play roughly monthly at local churches and perhaps again for outreach ministries like Celebrate Recovery.  He is also an occasional Speaker delivering a sermon at their church during pastoral absences or giving a message during the Homeless Shelter Ministry, Valerie usually providing counseling/prayer support during some events.

Michael also played his Bass in a local Christian Rock Band, Harken.  Here’s their ReverbNation page:

His former band, Harken, recently acquired a new lead singer following the move out of state of the former singer (featured on the ReverbNation page).  This new singer is learning all the band’s original material so that they can soon begin gigging again.

Michael’s former Christian rock band, Binding Faith, has a tribute page here at ReverbNation:

He was a little more involved in the songwriting for Binding Faith than for Harken thus far, though with his latest band, Lively Pelts (see below) he will likely become more involved collaboratively in their music development.  They also are affording him to expand his musical repertoire, as they play several styles of music in addition to Christian Rock.  In fact, in early June he debuted his first public performance of the Blues style of music.  Our kids have been blessed to have had a number of unique experiences via the local Christian Rock scene because of their dad’s years of involvement in this fun & meaningful pursuit….

Well that’s a bit of flavor of who we are and where we’ve come from.  At some point I hope to flesh out some of the details on some of the internal pages “planned” for this blog….but that will be as the spirit and the muse strike…

Thanks for stopping by and reading this bio.  I hope and pray that you may be personally blessed  and encouraged by anything you may read here.

Best Regards & May God Bless YOU!

Valerie

June 2017 Update

Michael has joined a new Christian Rock Band, Lively Pelts.  Here is their Reverb Nation page:

Our oldest son, Nathaniel, moved out of our home near the end of 2016 into his own home, which happens to be in our neighborhood, so we still get to see him sometimes.  He got engaged to his girlfriend, Tara, at my parents’ Gaylord Cottage over Memorial Day weekend in 2016, and they were married recently in May of 2017!  They had a lovely wedding and we are so blessed with this latest edition to the Curren Clan!

Fall of 2017 saw Josiah become involved in Special Olympics through a local disability organization.  He has already competed in Basketball and Track & Field and is looking forward to Soccer and Floor Hockey seasons in the coming months.  This pursuit is something he anticipates continuing in throughout his lifespan, well into his 60s (according to him), should he live so long.

We’ve had kids in at least one of two local colleges continuously since 2011.  One of our kids got a full ride scholarship to Eastern Michigan University!  This kid still struggles with settling on a major and finding clear focus and direction for their future (as do All of our kids).  Two of our kids have attended the University of Michigan, Dearborn campus.  One received a scholarship to assist in financing this education.  One of our kids with ADHD has discovered some real academic challenges at college because of that condition and we are still working on ways to address their needs here.  Three of our kids have been pretty involved at U of M Dearborn’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship organization, with one of them flirting with some leadership responsibilities here.  We’re thankful that they have chosen to involve Josiah as much as he is willing with this local Christian collegiate fellowship opportunity!

Josiah has been sharing his thoughts, prayers, and praises on his own CarePages.com blog.  He also often writes his own version of Psalms, as he is inspired.  Check out his very unique perspective here:

CarePages.com/JosiahTheOvercomer

Three of our kids have found pretty steady employment.  Josiah is hoping to get into the workforce to some degree.  This process is complicated by the magnitude of his challenges and the necessity to keep potential earnings within the allowable range from an SSI standpoint, for making sure Josiah keeps his SSI (disability income) case intact, along with its associated Medicaid case is key to some peace of mind regarding his needs continuing to be cared for regardless of what might happen to the rest of us.

I’ve personally become recently “burdened” with attempting to get some degree of compliance with necessary lifestyle changes in relation to “managing” Type II Diabetes.  At some later time this may lead to some more detailed blog postings.  At least this gives me a little perspective on some of Josiah’s challenges in trying to adjust to new medical requirements…it’s taking way longer than I would like…

Again thanks for stopping by and sharing a bit of our family’s unique journey here at Special Connections!

Blessings to All,

Valerie

Here are some of my favorite pictures (if I can ever get them to copy/paste here–ultimately this worked when getting things from online, aka family members’ Facebook pages or CarePages photos that I’d uploaded)–in no particular order:

 

Image may contain: people smiling, one or more people, people standing, night, suit and indoor

Michael & Valerie engaged December 1991

Image may contain: 5 people

The Hunting Shack, near Luzerne, Michigan.  Curren Guys: Josiah, Brandon, Nathaniel, Michael, & my dad, Bill Stoddard.  2011 Hunting Season

Image may contain: 6 people

major personalities on display here.  Clarissa in background, Brandon, my Mom in background, nephew Isaiah, Nathaniel, & Josiah

Image may contain: 2 people

Michael rocking with his former band, Harken.  M on bass, Dave drums, Bill vocals, & Mark guitar

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling

Curren Family at Skyline Cafe (12th floor of Mott Children’s Hospital of the University of Michigan) following a family Genetics appointment, Fall 2014.  Nathaniel, Brandon, Clarissa, Michael, Valerie, & Josiah.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling

Valerie & Michael (photo of Clarissa on lanyard) at Parents Night, Swim Season, Allen Park High School, Fall 2014

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people on stage, people standing, guitar and outdoor

Lively Pelts, Michael’s new band, 6-17-17, Blessing of the Bikers event at Victory Biker Church.  Marty-lead guitar & vocals, Roy-drums, & Michael-bass & backup vocals.

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling

Shooting Shack style, Michael, Nathaniel, Tara (his new fiancee), Brandon, & nephew Isaiah.  Memorial Day Weekend 2017

Image may contain: 14 people, people standing and outdoor

Easter 2013, extended Stoddard & Curren Clan (minus Nathaniel who was working):  Michael, Valerie, Clarissa, nephew Isaiah, Brandon, niece Vanessa, mom Elaine, niece Lydia, Josiah, dad Bill, sister-in-law Sarah, brother Mike, niece Cassandra, & niece Veronica…

Image may contain: 6 people, suit

Currens at Easter: Valerie, Michael, Josiah, Nathaniel, Clarissa, & Brandon

Image may contain: 4 people, suit

My three sons & Michael, at an earlier Easter.  M, Nathaniel, Brandon, & Josiah

Image may contain: one or more people

Michael’s First Christian Rock Band, Binding Faith, at one of their favorite venues, The New Exodus Coffee House, Lincoln Park, MI.  Jason rhythm guitar, Tim lead vocals, Greg lead guitar & vocals, Paul drums, & Michael bass.

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage, people playing musical instruments, guitar and outdoor

Michael in the zone, Rocking for Jesus with the Lively Pelts, 6-17-17

Image may contain: 3 people

My Three Sons, at The Shack: Brandon, Josiah, & Nathaniel

Image may contain: 11 people, people smiling, people standing, wedding and indoor

at Nathaniel & Tara’s Wedding with family & friends

Image may contain: 3 people

my three sons during the Dearborn Christian School era: Brandon, Josiah, & Nathaniel

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing, suit and indoor

Nathaniel & Tara on their wedding day!

Image may contain: 3 people

Skeet Shooting with Dad, back in the day: Brandon, Nathaniel, & Michael

Image may contain: 6 people

Curren Clan Christmas 2010? (if so this was right after Josiah’s Liver Biopsy after having found a Brain Tumor & Liver Masses for Thanksgiving): Michael, Valerie, Nathaniel, Josiah, Brandon, & Clarissa

Image may contain: 2 people, outdoor

Brotherly Love, North Woods of Michigan style–Nathaniel & Brandon

Image may contain: 3 people

My Three Sons on the Make A Wish Trip to Florida, Nathaniel, Brandon, & Josiah

Image may contain: 3 people, outdoor and nature

Curren kids in Colorado, one of our few vacations out of state: Brandon, Clarissa, & Nathaniel.  We took them to Rocky Mountain National Park to show them where we’d honeymooned.  This is either Emerald Lake, Nymph Lake, or Dream Lake…

 

 

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling

N’s very Curtis-esque quote here: “Nathaniel Curren Professor Tom Foolery, working toward becoming Dean of The University of Shenanigans.”  Ironically this is about a year before they got engaged…and Michael proposed to me in a gazebo, so a bit of foreshadowing here!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, wedding and outdoor

Nathaniel & Tara on their Wedding Day!

Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor

Nathaniel & the Girls at Tara & Nathaniel’s Bridal Shower: Clarissa, Lydia, Vanessa, Nathaniel, Cassandra, Veronica, & Sarah (N’s sister, cousins, & aunt)

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, ocean, outdoor, nature and water

Nathaniel & Tara during their engagement, The Cottage, Arbutus Beach, Gaylord, Michigan

Image may contain: 4 people

from N’s Facebook caption “Official album cover off our new “Kidz in the Woodz” Mixtape dropping this summer. Str8 Fire alert!”  This was from our Colorado trip…where Josiah laid his hands on me and prayed & my breathing problem was healed!  Josiah, Brandon, Clarissa, & Nathaniel.

Image may contain: 5 people

Dad’s Day Out at Cedar Point!  Michael, Nathaniel, Zachary, Ashley, & Curtis (my bro & kids)

Image may contain: 2 people, hat

Nathaniel & Tara’s Engagement Picture–Beautiful!

 

 

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting, ocean, sky, outdoor, water and nature

From N’s Facebook page “Best grandparents a guy could ever ask for, enjoying the 4th with their family. — at Arbutis Beach Gaylord MI”  Cruising Otsego Lake at sunset.  Valerie’s parents Bill & Elaine Stoddard…

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing

from Brandon’s Napoleon Dynamite tribute dance at N & T’s wedding!

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, outdoor and text

Nathaniel & Tara’s Engagement Picture

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, outdoor

Clarissa, Senior Picture taken by her cousin Veronica, The Cottage, Gaylord, MI

Image may contain: 10 people

my parents & their Michigan grandkids, Easter: Clarissa, Elaine, Lydia, Bill, Vanessa, Nathaniel, Josiah, Brandon, & Isaiah (missing from photo is Cassandra)

Image may contain: 2 people, outdoor

Currenesque Humor in an Allen Park, MI playground, Brandon & Clarissa

Image may contain: 3 people, indoor

Three Little Currens, DCS Days, Josiah, Brandon, & Clarissa

No automatic alt text available.

Three Little Currens, Comic Book Style, Dearborn Christian School, Josiah, Brandon, & Clarissa

Image may contain: 2 people

Clarissa & Robin, her dear friend, graduating Dearborn Christian School, 8th grade, 2012

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup

an artistic self-portrait by Clarissa

No automatic alt text available.

the essence of Clarissa, from her Facebook photo collection…

Image may contain: 1 person

Clarissa at Give Kids The World on our Make A Wish Florida trip

Image may contain: 1 person

Clarissa’s Ballet Recital at the Allen Park Community Center

Image may contain: 1 person

perhaps the origin from which Clarissa’s nickname “Bunny” arises…

Image may contain: 1 person

Clarissa loves God’s creatures, Summer at The Cottage, Gaylord, MI

Image may contain: 2 people

Brandon as Danny Zucco in Allen Park High School’s 2014 Production of Grease

Image may contain: 2 people, suit

my twin boys, Easter, Brandon & Josiah

Image may contain: 1 person

Brandon in Style & Ready to Dance!

Image may contain: 7 people, suit

Curren family at Ashley’s Wedding, Tulsa, OK: Michael, Brandon, Nathaniel, Josiah, Clarissa, & Valerie

Image may contain: 6 people

Curren Clan visiting Sand Dollar Apartment Poolside in Tulsa, OK, where Michael & Valerie met in 1991: Brandon, Clarissa, Valerie, Josiah, Michael, & Nathaniel

34190_100_3744_display

The pool where it all began…Valerie and Michael met at this pool in their then apartment complex, Sand Dollar, in Tulsa, Oklahoma in May of 1991. Val says that since they had no one in common, God introduced them. Returning to the scene of the crime they documented how things have changed over the ensuing years, Summer 2010.

45870_100_4758_display

Clarissa as “Spud” in DCS’s version of Heaven Help the Po-Taters (she’s too cute to be a boy though)

56765_100_3671_display

Josiah undergoing pre-op procedures before the Brain Tumor Surgery Summer 2010….& a comment on this photo at CarePages…by Julie Thompson
JOSIAH . . . the bravest young man we know. We love you and are keeping you in our prayers.
Cousins Tom and Julie

18238_080_display

Josiah running Track for his High School, Spring 2012.  He was awarded a Varsity Letter in Track his Junior Year and wore that letter proudly on a Letter Jacket kindly provided for him by his loving grandparents!

Image may contain: 3 people, indoor

Clarissa & Brandon at B’s Dearborn Christian School 8th Grade Graduation 2010

Image may contain: 2 people

My Twins, Keeping us Safe from Bad Guys, Josiah & Brandon

Image may contain: 2 people

Michael & Brandon on at Fort Michilimackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Image may contain: 1 person

Brandon & Josiah at a Disney park on our Make A Wish Trip to Florida

No automatic alt text available.

Brandon Hiking Dead Man’s Hill near the Jordan River Valley, Michigan

Image may contain: 2 people, outdoor and nature

Michael & Brandon Deer Hunting at The Shack, near Luzerne, Michigan

Image may contain: sky, ocean, cloud, twilight, outdoor, water and nature

Just One of Many Gorgeous Sunsets over Otsego Lake at Arbutus Beach & The Cottage!

 

Image may contain: 14 people, people standing and outdoor

4th of July Festivities, The Cottage, Arbutus Beach, Gaylord, Michigan.  Back Row: my brothers, Curtis & his wife Dawn, & Mike & his wife Sarah; Middle row: Dawn’s daughters Brooke & Madison; Curtis’ kids Ashley & Zachary; Nathaniel; M & S’s Veronica, me-Valerie; Front “row”: Brandon, M & S’s Vanessa, Mom/Grandma, M & S’s Isaiah, Dad/Grandpa holding M & S’s Lydia & Baby Cassandra, Josiah, Clarissa, & Dawn’s son Caleb (missing my husband Michael, who was working)

Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling

The New Year’s Eve Gang: my parents, Bill & Elaine Stoddard, Shirley Alderman (Joel taking photo?), Carrie & Ken Ellis (my God-Parents), Bill & Nancy Burmeister, & Phil & Marsha DeVergilio.  I spent much of my childhood interconnected with this special group of people, especially at Burmeister’s Farm, where we all visited two weekends a year, Summers to bring in the hay and Falls to bring in Wood needed to heat their home.  I was the oldest of 16 stairstep children of this group and was blessed to have these special relationships & experiences during my growing up years.  Later we were allowed to attend New Year’s Eve with the Gang and it was Always such a Blast!

Image may contain: 3 people, indoor

My Mom, Elaine Elizabeth Koski Stoddard (born Baby Girl Bluemly) and her two birth sisters.  They all share the same dad, Robert David Mellinger, but each had different mothers.  Patrece Van Vleck, the youngest sister, is in the middle.  Bobbie Jodouin, the middle sister is on the right.  I started searching for my mom’s birth family in 2000, when Mom was 60 years old…

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, suit

Clarissa & Jared going to their Senior Prom, 2016; Clarissa asked “I don’t want to go to Prom & you don’t want to go to Prom, so how about we go together?”  Jared said yes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
11 Comments

11 thoughts on “About Valerie Curren and her family

  1. Thanks for the follow Valerie! Your story is indeed incredible and very humbling. I know a few people who would benefit from the faith you have but they don’t think they need God or whoever or whatever you call it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, “Princess Jack”, for the encouraging words. I hope your “few people” eventually surrender to the “Lover of their Souls” (which process is really a lifelong journey) and find the strength, peace, and joy that only ultimately comes from Him! We couldn’t have endured those experiences without Him shoring us up–and if you know that “Footprints” poem that pretty much describes my encounters with the Lord during those extremely difficult and painful and overwhelming unending (seemingly) seasons!

      Blessings,
      Valerie

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Looking back at all the rough and bumpy bends in the road; the jagged rocks that seemingly would fall on our head at instant; the sounds of knees hitting the ground and being drug along on the rocks by our often lonely (but humble) prayers, show that the only way we made it this far, and amazingly still have some remote amount of sanity lingering in our brains, is that fact that God’s grace was and is sufficient. God brought us to a place of brokenness, so he could strengthen us in his timing (a gift mind you). To truly show that there is only one God that cares about us individually, and as a family. If we had not centered our affections toward the most high God and humbled ourselves to his will, I think we would still be swimming in the abyss of pride and selfishness (yes even as Christians). To learn how to truly love is not something you can conceive on your own. It has to be drawn up and taught by the Master himself, and directly implemented by his Holy counselor. I don’t know how much time we all have left, but I know where we are going to end up! We will serve the most high God face to face with a humble heart that wants nothing more than to worship him for eternity. For the days ahead? May we seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all things be added unto us.

    Bless the Lord oh my soul..bless his holy name,

    Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dearest Michael,

      Thank you so much for your wise, humble, & encouraging words, Honey! I love you so much and eagerly anticipate those coming years together–having amazingly thus far navigated 25 years of “wedded bliss”. You are such a gift & treasure to me personally and a fine example to our kids of what sacrificial love can look like down here. You live out those Godly callings of Lover/Leader, Provider/Protector, Best Friend/Brawler (aka Spiritual Warrior), and Servant/So-In-Demand-Mr-Fix-It-Man so very well!

      …and as I am now fond of saying you are truly The Patriarch of Your Own Existence! You and Abraham, the Father of Our Faith, have so much in common, not least of which is you being a Friend of God!

      I Love You,

      Valerie

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your family has an amazing story. I am reading a book called Trustful Surrender To Divine Providence. It’s about thanking God and being joy filled every day. Realizing that we are blessed no matter what happens this day, thanking God for the rain that falls on our heads as well as the sun that shines on us.

    How wonderful to make a connection with a family that lives this out as I read the book.

    I hope that last sentence does not seem like I discount your journey. I know you must have had so many awful days, so many trials. But your story, and my goodness, your pictures, show the triumphs and the joy.

    I’m very glad you have led me here to read more of your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Four Hundred-Fourth Care Page Post – Jazzman Journal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s