Thursday, August 30, 2007


I enjoy reading. I have read many books written to help with the grieving process and I have continued to read good old fiction novels as well. I recently finished reading a non-fiction book about the journey of three young men traveling north across the continent of Africa on motorcycles. The title is The Only Road North by Erik Mirandette. It tells a very incredible story. I highly recommend reading it if you get the chance. Briefly, this is the story: Erik, his just out of high school brother, Alex, and one of Erik’s friends, all of them very young, started in Capetown, South Africa and drove motocross bikes north some 5000 miles over the coarse of 4 months. They endured all kinds of adventures and made it to Cairo, Egypt. While sightseeing in a market in Cairo a suicide bomber blew himself up right near the boys. The explosion killed Erik’s brother, Alex.

That is why I think this book is noteworthy. As many of us know who have lost someone very dear to us, we long so much to have that person back. We spend days, months, years, always remembering. We never want to forget. We question why, what did I do to cause this. We think what could I have done differently that could have saved our loved one. As one who has recently been through the loss of a dear loved one, I can feel the pain in each word that Erik has written in this book. Erik offers no “pat” answers, only painful questions when talking about his brother’s death.

Following are a couple of excerpts from the book:
When talking about how he, himself should have died from his injuries, but survived them he says “But we are so much more than the air we breathe. A person needs more than just a heartbeat. He needs a purpose, he needs faith, he needs to know that he is not alone. I cannot figure out why God would protect the shell in which I reside but leave me completely alone when I need him the most. For the months of recovery following the explosion I try to pray to God but my prayers are nothing more than an empty voice echoing inside my head. Eventually I stop.”
This one is part of a conversation he had with a friend of his after he was back home and trying to get on with life “My fear is not that God doesn’t exist. I know God exists. My fear is that there is more to His nature than justice, peace, love and joy. Is it unreasonable to describe God as cruel, unjust, partial, fickle, egocentric . . .?” “If not, then what is there to differentiate heaven and hell? Nothing is certain, and no amount of thought will resolve my dilemmas. Thinking just leads me deeper down the tunnel, unleashing more doubts, calling more of what I know into question.”

I guess I am writing about this because these are the same feelings that most all of us have felt at some time in our life. If you have felt this way or perhaps going through something similar right now, know that you are not alone. These feelings are natural. When people we love suffer, and lose the battle to stay in this world, the pain is incredible. Time helps but it doesn’t heal. As with any deep wound, healing comes from within but the scars remain. I had a very dear Uncle who was near death at the time of Carol’s funeral. He made the 200 mile trip because I was like one of his own sons. His funeral was two months later. At Carol’s funeral he told me to look at his hand. It had a large scar on it. He said that was from an ice fishing spear accident form some 65 years earlier. The wound healed but he had the scar the rest of his life. But God is a God of Grace, just keep trusting!

So true.

Monday, August 27, 2007


For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD... Jeremiah 29:11-14

The above Bible passage was one of Carol’s favorites. Among her things, I found a written testimony of her faith that included this passage. We included it on cover of her funeral service folder. In the past several months I have pondered as to how these “plans” worked out for Carol and her life. I’m not sure I know the answer. Can I consider her “unharmed”. I do know that she had always sought the Lord and her future is, indeed, secure where she will never be harmed again.

But what about us who remain on this earth, in this life? How does our faith stand up to the trials we face when a loved one dies young? I know, first hand, our faith shakes like a house of sticks amidst a powerful earthquake. There are some other “facts” I know as well. I am no theologian; on the contrary, I spend way too much time on the trivial and not enough time in God’s word. But I know and believe that God exists. He created, sustains and is redeeming this world. I see both the (very) good and the (very) evil that exists in the hearts and minds of man and have to believe that it is the battle for those very hearts by greater powers. So, in a way, in my mind, the existence of evil points to the existence of a good God! Here’s the good part, while the existence of evil wins a few battles and causes much pain and doubt, God’s victory is assured. Even so, our cries of “why”, or “how long” are legitimate.

I think the key word is “redemption”. Through out history God has been about the work of redeeming this universe. There is overwhelming evidence of God’s redemptive work in this world. God has been turning “wrong” into “good” ever since humans allowed evil to have a foot hold in this world.

I believe this redemption plan, the effects of it, the good that we see in this world, is just a foretaste of Heaven. The best of this life is a glimpse of the always of Heaven. That God allows us, and created us, to love, to be loved, and to love again after a disaster, is a bit of Heaven on earth.

To those who struggle, believe me, you are not alone. Remember God’s “plans to prosper and not harm” are rock solid and they are eternal. Pray for strength, pray for wisdom, and pray for redemption.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Another Widow
This past weekend was a very pleasant and special time. To me weekends by definition are always good. This one was better than most. I was able to spend more time than usual with family and a new very special person in my life. My company golf outing was Saturday then we went, practically, right from there to a wedding of a nephew of Lisa's. I got to meet a lot a very nice people who were gracious to me the entire time.
On Sunday, the morning worship service was again special. My three children each participated in the service, communion was served. My Mom was with me and Lisa and her family were there as well. Then we visited my sister and brother-in-law in Grand Haven for the afternoon and evening.
This is probably more info than you cared to know.
Why share all of this?
Once again reality hit hard when we returned Sunday evening. There was a message waiting for us on our answering machine. The father of a very close friend of my daughter Amy, was killed in a helicopter crash on norther Indiana. He was piloting the craft himself and was the only person on board. When we heard the news our hearts just dropped. More sadness, more grief, hasn't the world seen enough suffering? Now another family losses a father, another wife losses a husband.
There is another widow!
Before I joined these ranks (that none of us ever wanted to be a part of) I never knew there could be as many of us as now I know there is. As I have come to learn, healing is possible. The journey is long and difficult but one can get to the "other side". Memories become pleasant, but there is no forgetting.
Please pray for the Terpstra family. Many of us know the pain that is now present for them and the difficult path of what is still to come!

Saturday, August 04, 2007


The weekend including or near the dates of August 5 & 6 has long been my favorite weekend of the year. August 5 is the anniversary of the happiest day of my life, my wedding day. Then, our anniversary was always followed up a day later with my birthday. With the combination of days like that it always made it easy for me to remember our anniversary. I have many treasured memories about the ways we celebrated that day. When the kids were younger we would often take our summer vacation week to include these days. Carol and I would sometimes have an overnight get away but we would always go to a nice place for dinner. Good times! I was so blessed!

This weekend will be different, as all of life is different. I know I can survive it. (There’s that word again – “survived by”) I survived it a year ago. This is my second anniversary/birthday without Carol. Last year I stayed busy, the kids and I had a family reunion to attend, and I was pretty much numb to the pain. This year would have been our thirtieth anniversary. We had pointed to this one as the year we would take a trip or do something extra special. We shouldn’t have waited!

I am moving on. Letting go has been difficult but it is happening. After this sojourn in the “valley”, life is exciting again. It’s exciting to see growth in the lives of our kids. It’s exciting to build relationships with the new people God has placed in my life. It exciting to think of a future that holds the promise of happiness and not just sadness.

The memories of this weekend, of these celebrative days, at times, seem so distant. At times they seem like another life, a lifetime ago. At other times it seems like yesterday. It seems like just yesterday we did things like leaving the kids with Mom and Dad and spending the night on Mackinac Island.

All the memories, whether they seem distant or like they happened yesterday are very precious to me! Lord, let me keep them forever!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I was recently tagged on a friend’s blog to reveal eight random facts about myself. (Thanks Marsha). As I am a pretty “random” kind of person this shouldn’t be too difficult. The difficulty is that then I am supposed to tag eight more individuals to reveal some facts about themselves on their blog. The problem is that I don’t have eight other people to send this on to, sorry! If any readers would like to send me their responses, that would be cool.
So here they are in no particular order:
RANDOM FACT # 1 - I played both football and basketball in high school and have to say I’m a football guy. My favorite sport to watch is NFL football. I’m a die hard Lions fan and seriously get depressed thinking about all the beautiful fall days I’ve spent in my life watching the Lions play like crap.
RANDOM FACT # 2 - I have lived in my current house for over 27 years. Carol and I bought this house and moved into it in 1980. It is the only home our children have ever known.
RANDOM FACT # 3 - I have worked in the building materials industry for thirty years, since graduating from college in 1977. In that time I have worked for only two companies.
RANDOM FACT # 4 - I am very much into the television series “LOST”. I can’t wait for the new season to begin.
RANDOM FACT # 5 - I was into contemporary Christian music way back at its inception. People like Larry Norman, Barry McGuire, Keith Green, etc, were on my favorite “8 tracks”.
RANDOM FACT # 6 - There were 18 kids in my high school graduating class.
RANDOM FACT # 7 - In high school I was 6’6” tall, as of my physical yesterday, I am now just under 6’5” tall.
RANDOM FACT # 8 - I stink at Guitar Hero, unlike my kids who are amazing at it.

- Yeah