September in Present Tense

Yesterday was Zac’s 34th birthday. The Sunday before that was our 12th wedding anniversary. I knew going into the month of September would be tough. I knew it would take everything I had, everything I could complete and totally reliance on God, to do this month and do it successfully.  The day of his birth arrived and as we were driving to school in the morning Lizzy said, “do you know what day it is, it’s Dad’s birthday” They were so happy, saying things like, “I can’t believe he is turning 34″ “What should we do for him today”   Can I just stop and tell you all how happy I am that they still talk about him in the present tense? “He is turning 34″… I love it.  I suppose I do the same thing, on Sunday when it was our anniversary…I totally counted it. 12 years! That is a long time, you bet I count it.

I wonder how this works, will he always be in the present tense to us? I sure hope so. I can’t say that I feel him here with me physically or that I know he is watching over me from Heaven (may the sparks of controversy start now) but what I do know is this: every morning when I wake up and look into the eyes of my children, he is right there. When I hear Jake yell at a call on a football game, while sitting in his Dad’s chair, he is right there. When Luke gets that bright twinkle in his light blue eyes (which are exactly Zac’s color), he is right there. When Lizzy is methodically contemplating life and wrapping her brain around a tough issue, while wearing his beanie cap, he is right there.  When I am in the safe car, that he bought for me. Driving out of the driveway of the house that he provided. Going to the job I love, that he worked at first.  Seeing the friends, that he introduced me to. Then picking up the kids, that he helped me create…I know with all of my heart that he is right there.

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32 Responses to “September in Present Tense”

  1. Robin Arnold says:

    Amen and amen! Thank you so much for writing. I think of Zac from time to time and wondered how you are doing. Consider yourselves big rocking hugged!

  2. Lance Patterson says:

    We are having a great time with your mom-in-law in Kenya. We had a long talk last night. You’ve been through a lot already and you have a wonderful family. Keep remembering Zac in the present tense.

  3. Tracy27 says:

    This is beautiful, Mandy. What a lot to come up against in a single month. I was thinking of Zac all day on his birthday, and I love the reminder that we still have part of him in the ways he shows up in your kids and your daily life. The way they responded to his birthday is really a testament to how well you’re helping them deal. Love you all ~

  4. Tony Anzlaone says:

    Beautifully said. Your family picture is on my bulletin board and I pray for you often. Your extended family in Ecuador cares for you all.

  5. Judy Rhodes says:

    You are blessed, only God can give this kind of peace and insight. You are a wonderful example of God’s power to comfort in one of life’s most difficult situations. Zac present tense, yes, because he lives and he lives with your twin brother, grandmother, grandfather, and uncle who have all gone on to be with the Lord in the last 2 1/2 years. To God be the Glory for your perspective.

  6. joanie says:

    so beautifully right on. incredible love…incredible faith…incredible legacy living on. your shared and continued testimony is a deep-felt blessing.

  7. Leo Gallant says:

    Thanks for sharing, Mandy. I was thinking this month of our Valerie who is 16 this month. And this is the 16th birthday she has had in the presence of Jesus. I hope she and Zac got to go to each others birthday party!

  8. Emily Morgan says:

    Beautifully written, Mandy! I love your thoughts, so nicely articulated on Zac’s blog. Perfect!

  9. Hello Mandy. Ken and Meg told my wife Miriam and me about Zac a bout a year ago, and from that time one she and I began praying for him, you, and the children. We both feel deeply for you all. While Zac is now in our Lord presence and eternal comfort, we will pray that the Lord will keep you and the little ones there, too, until the day you see Zac again.

    Meg, by the way, is our first born child, and we are glad she and our son-in-law Ken let us know about all of you. We feel as if we know you personally. One day we will have that time together.

    Blessings always,

    Preston and Miriam Gravely

  10. Herschel says:

    I thank God for bringing you and Zack into my life. God, in his wisdom and love, finds the way to speak to us when we need his words.

    Although Zack is with the father in spirit, Zac’s words will always be with us and will speak to us when we need him.

    Just this morning, my sister emailed me with a request for the link to Zac’s video. Some time back when I shared it with her God spoke to her and said remember this, remember what I am doing with Zac. And I’m sure this morning as she is going on her way into life, God is speaking through Zac, to someone that she will share the video with!

    “God is God, And God Is Good”

  11. Silvia Nieto says:

    Hi guys,
    Congratulations on your anniversary…wow! 12 years…what a life. Glad to hear the children and you are doing well. And yes, a very happy birthday to my ole friend Zacharias….sure do miss him. But, I remember him always and also you guys.

    Take care and may the Lord continue to be with you guys, always. Thank you for the card you sent me…got it.

    Love you guys!
    Silvia : ))

  12. Silvia Nieto says:

    This is great!

  13. Fernando y Verónica Páez says:

    We are praying for you and your family

  14. deborah says:

    Thank you for posting. Though I haven’t met you in person I truly care how you are doing. God is so good to create siblings by adoption, and Zac is my brother as well!

  15. cheryl edwards says:

    Mandy, you are “right on” it. Zac will always be in the present tense…because he is… in every part of your life. You see him in your children now…just wait another 10 years, I don’t know who looks the most like him….but as they grow older…you will always see Zac in the present tense.
    One day as you glimpse from a distance or hear that voice …you will do a double take and think you are looking at your beloved…and for a split second, it will take your breath away as you breath his name… and you realize–it’s one of your boys…Zac in the present tense. Mandy, I hope you will keep all of your journaling, as you have Zac’s. So many people would be blessed to see your family’s life in written form…not now, but when God tells you, it’s time. Praying always for your family….

  16. Wendy W. says:

    How simply ah-mazing…I loved reading Lizzie’s comment and how they are remembering Zac in the present. I was deeply touched by that. What it made me think of is how, as Christians, we do so easily forget that we must remain in present – we remember Jesus in the present, why not anyone else? So, a belated ‘Happy Birthday’ to Zac and ‘Happy 12th Anniversary”.

    I have a friend that recorded an album some years ago and one song was titled ‘The Faces of Our Friends” – summing it up, it was stating that we see Christ in the faces of our friends. In taking from that, I know your last statement about seeing Zac IN your children is more than truth, it is FACT. When you long to see him, just look at your children and he’s there. May God continue to be your Comfort and Strength.

  17. Gail Brown says:

    I want you to know that I always come to Zac’s page with anticipation and I never leave disappointed. I love that you are seeing Zac in your children and that you are experiencing him through them. Isn’t that amazing and just like God to give that comfort and assurance.
    I always find encouragement, bravery and hope in your writings. Thanks, please don’t ever quit being so fresh and honest.

  18. Jody Kranda says:

    Almost made it through that one without crying, so close. Love these posts!!

  19. Susanna says:

    Mandy, I just love this post. You, your kids, Stacey, Zac’s parents…you all come to my mind so often. Thank you for allowing us a window in to your thoughts and daily joys and struggles. Your reliance on God is an example to all of us. Praying that God continues to comfort you and pour out grace on your family. Love from the Bundys!

  20. Sharon says:

    Mandy, I wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you and the kids and praying for you this Christmas.

  21. John says:

    Hello Mandy, Lizzy, Luke and Jake,

    My name is John. I live in sunny St. Petersburg, FL. I came across Zac’s video for the first time today, and as I am sure you have heard before, it simply moved me. Your husband and father had it so right. We have been studying about this issue – basically If you had 30 days to live how would you live it? Would you live intentionally and with passion? Lived with the important eternal things in mind. Our lives are meant to be lived for the glory of God regardless of our circumstances. Then I saw Zac’s videos. Zac’s impact on many, many people will be long standing which is such a blessing to so many. I have forwarded his message to many people with the note that life is to be lived for God no matter what. You all are in my prayers, and I wanted to thank you for this blog. May God bless you! John C.

  22. Hannetjie Potgieter says:

    Dear Mandy. I couldn’t find you on fb. Zac’s video was shared on my wall tonight. It touched my heart. I think I know what you went thru and aybe how you still feel. My husband passed away almost the same time . His name was Simon. Lungcancer. It also spread to his brain and his liver. It was the saddest but greatest time of our life. We were so close to each other and to God. I can still feel it. When I read Zac’s and your Blog, It brings back the memories of what we went thru and sometimes I miss he so much that I wish we could do it all over again. Even if it was difficult. But I know it was the best and that theres no more pain. I will pray for you and your kids. But I’m not worried about you because I know that God is taking care of you. We must just keep on praying. He is a Good God. I would love to get in contact with you. Im am on fb too, God bless.

  23. Mom of 4 says:

    Hi, I am a complete stranger. Mom of 4 homeschooled kids. One with a disability. I have been caught up in the sin of selfishness. Just not really being present for my children. Not giving as much as I should. Retreating to the computer when i am tired instead of continuing to meet their needs. Your husband’s video greatly impacted me. I believe God used it to help me to be able to repent of self love and live today for the Lord and for my family. God Bless your family.

  24. Becky says:

    Hi, my name’s Becky and I just wanted to let you know we watched your’s and Zac’s videos at my university’s Christian Union and it was an incredible encouragement. I pray you are hugely blessed for sharing your experiences in such a powerful way. I have spent 2 years in and out of hospital waiting for healing not understanding God’s ways and had a similar month where I thought I was going to be ok then the next month my illness came back worse. I know no 2 situations are the same and yet your story has really encouraged me to keep clinging to a good God and to hope through the tears. I also really liked what you said about knowing Zac was healed, it reminded me God always keeps his promises. Thank you again for sharing and I pray God is so close to you and your children eternally.

  25. Chrissy says:

    Oh how I wish I would have found this blog last spring. As my sister in Christ lay in my childhood bedroom waiting for the Lord to call her home, I would have loved to share Zac’s thoughts with her. We are supposed to be celebrating her 37th birthday on the 8th, but after a 3 year battle with stage 4 colon cancer…she will only be with us in spirit. We will celebrate with her precious boys. Tonight I offer you my prayers and say thank you to you and your brave husband for sharing your story. God bless you all.

  26. Karin says:

    Dear Mandy and kids,

    Just heard your story today for the first time, and had to know what happened. I am also a Christian, and stories of God’s faithfulness are still amazing to me, not because I can’t believe God to be good, but because God’s wisdom isn’t my wisdom, and I guess I hope to understand Him more by hearing them.

    Thank you for your family’s testimony! I will be asking our Father for His continued grace for you all as you navigate the challenges ahead! God bless you!

  27. Natalie Daratony says:

    To whomever may see this,
    I do not know where you are or if you will ever get to see this but I wanted to somehow reach you to say thank you. Yours and your husbands simple phrase “God is still God and God is still good” has become not only the anthem but the very two truths that hold my life together. If i had not ever seen your beautiful videos and continued to watch them those two truths in that way would not be a part of my life as they are today. Through everything, it is what i cling to. You both have changed my life. thank you.

  28. Lora says:

    Beautiful. And when they hold you, a piece of him is holding you, too. so beautiful, Mandy. Thank you.

  29. Mark Morris says:


    I don’t know if you still get emails when someone adds a comment to this blog or if you even check this blog but I have what I hope to be a word of encouragement to you. I am in similar shoes to where you were about 2 years ago. My wife was diagnosed with what was Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer on Dec 10, 2010 (the cancer has now progressed to stage 4). This occurred 2 months after giving birth to our first born son, Micah (who is now just shy of turning 1). Since then she has had 2 major surgeries, numerous chemo treatments, and is daily fighting for her life. Let me stop there and say that we are profound believers in Jesus Christ and we had fast to his truth that no matter what happens to our earthly bodies, cancer can’t touch our eternal security. Only the Lord knows what plans he holds in store for my wife and our family, but we know that if he wants to heal her he can in an instant. I am telling you all of this because my wife and I watched your story from a link on Hearing it for the first time was rough because we don’t know how my wife’s story about her cancer will end; however, let me tell you how encouraging it was to hear of someone else who, despite the temporary circumstances, chose to seek the eternal. This is something that we strive for and have not found others in a similar situation who had the same faith to trust that God knows best. Please let us know how we can pray for you and your kids if you have a second. Know that any requests will be prayed for. May God continue to bless you and your family for the example you continue to show.


  30. Norman says:

    I enjoyed Zac’s video. It has helped me and my wife. I was diagnosed with 4th stage throat cancer in January 2011. I prayed to Jesus and 3 time I was assured that I will survive this as it is not my time yet. Then my oncologist told me my survival rat is 40 – 50%. So I prayed again asking that I will not die. God angry with me and in my dream I was at my funeral. All of a sudden I get out of my coffin. God in an angry voice said. “I have the power of Resurrection, trust me that it’s not your time yet.”

    I had 35 radiation treatments and 3 chemo which was completed in April. In July I had to have 3 lymph nodes removed. Prior to the surgery the surgeon told me I had a 70% chance that a nerve would be cut that would affect the movement of my left arm and I would have severe pain if I try to move the arm above my shoulder.

    I prayed along with many others that God guide the surgeon’s hand so he would not cut the nerve.

    When I woke up from the surgery, I had no restriction in my arm movement and there was no pain. I thanked God for helping the doctor not cut my nerve. Then the surgeon came in to see and apologized for cutting the nerve.

    I then moved my arm to show the doctor and said, “God healed me I have no restrictions and no pain.” The doctor said, “That’s never happened before”.

    That night I prayed thanking god for the miracle and then asked why the miracle when I only asked for the nerve not be cut.
    God’s response was, ” The miracle was not for you but for the doctor”

    I believe God wants me to tell my testament to everyone for the following 2 reasons:
    1. To reaffirm to believers of God’s power and mercy
    2. For non believers to look into God and Jesus Christ.

    Once again thank you Zac.

  31. John says:

    You are in my prayers Mandy! Remember, the will of God will not take you where the love of God cannot keep you!

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