Thursday, November 29, 2007

True Joy

“...I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them. I will give them joy in place of their sorrow.” Jer 31:13

As the heading on this blog page indicates, my writings here have largely been about my “grief journey”. A little over a year and a half ago a process more painful than I could have ever imagined began. Many of you who have been, or are right now, at some point along this journey know what I mean. This process is often called a “journey” because there is a destination or “other side” that can be reached.

Approximately 6 months ago the Lord blessed me with the friendship of a fellow traveler. I met Lisa at a young widowed support group meeting long before either of us was ready for any kind of relationship with the opposite gender. Over the course of many months and many meetings we became friends. We learned a little more about each other’s story, about our beloved spouses. We learned that we shared many common values, interests, etc. At one of our meetings shortly after returning from my trip to Liberia the Lord spoke to me that it would be ok for me to ask Lisa if she would like to have dinner with me sometime. She said she would like that :) She was obviously too sweet to turn me down. The evening we were together gave us a chance to talk and share more of our life stories with each other. We immediately knew that we could be good friends but were not sure if we would be led beyond that.

Lisa and I continued to attend the support group meetings. We also continued to see each other outside of our group setting. We talked for hours about Phil, her late husband, and Carol, my late wife. We had so many stories to share. We talked about how happy and fulfilling our marriages were. We talked about our children and about how they are coping with the loss of one of their dear parents. Over time we began to see each other as more than merely friends. We talked about the “what ifs”. What if our relationship turned more into a “dating” kind of thing? What if we are not ready? What if it’s too early? What is too early? We fell in love!

Along the way we have talked to many couples who have traveled this journey before us. We so appreciate every minute they were willing to spend with us. Bob and Susan, our group facilitators, were very encouraging toward us regarding our relationship. We read books. We both knew that we certainly did not want to make a great mistake by becoming so attached to each other. At all times we held our children as our highest priority.

God is soooo good! Lisa and I are now engaged!! Our “Chapter Two” is now being written. God has delivered the both of us from the deepest pits of sorrow possible to a point where we are happy and joyful beyond what we would have thought ever possible. The above Bible verse from Jeremiah was e-mailed to Lisa by a friend of hers upon hearing of our engagement. This is exactly what God has done. Our mourning has been replaced with joy. As I was reminded again this past Thanksgiving Day by our pastor, true thanks, and true joy are only possible because of what Jesus has done for us. He is the very foundation of joy.

Lisa and I will always remember Phil and Carol. They are hugely responsible for who we are at this point in our lives. We learned, along with them, what a pleasure a good marriage is. I can truly say I have been extremely blessed to be so loved by two extra-ordinary women in one lifetime!

I can’t end this post without thanking all of you for your prayers for me and the kids. Thank you for all the wonderful ways you supported us along the way. Everything you did for us was very instrumental in our survival (that word again). Please keep both of our families in your prayers as we now blend our lives.

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21b

Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away. This will be the second Thanksgiving holiday without Carol. I remember last year when there was still a lot of pain and hurt. I remember the praise band rehearsal at church the Wed night before. The kids and I were all there and I couldn’t help but think, with deep sadness, about Carol not being there. She had played the piano for our Thanksgiving service for several years. Again it just seemed so wrong to me that she was not there. This was just the first of the “big three” holidays that our family would have to “survive” (that word again).
This year, again, the four of us will be at the rehearsal Wednesday night. I will be thinking about Carol and I still think it is wrong that she will not be there, but by God’s grace, I have accepted her absence. God has given a large measure of healing to me and the kids also, I pray. God has continued to rebuild our lives. I have much to be THANKFUL for.
I remember one of the stories a friend told me the day of Carol’s death. His brother had been killed in a car accident. He remembered their Pastors visit and his Father saying “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away”. My friend said he will always remember what the Pastor said, “but do remember the second part of that verse? ‘Blessed be the name of the Lord’. Can you say that part as well?” I have to say it took me a while before I could add that second line. Our church sings a beautiful praise song with those very words in it. It was a long time before I could sing it without tears.
This life continues to be full of good gifts and abundant blessings! They are all around if we will slow down and notice. Take some time this year to note them with appreciation. Particularly your loved ones who will not always be with you.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I love weekends. I don’t want to say that I’m the type of person that lives for the next weekend, but I might be close. This past weekend was one that I both looked forward to with anticipation and in many ways was dreading. This past weekend was eventful. It was a weekend of more transition for our family.

In August, my oldest daughter Amy, took the big step and bought a house. The house was a trashed out repo and was a stinking mess (literally). She was able to “buy it right”. In the last three months she and I, along with many other kind volunteers, have worked very hard to restore this house to something that is inhabitable. She moved in this past Saturday! Amy and I sat down once and calculated that there have been approx. 450 to 500 man/woman hours put into this project so far! It turned out great! It was a pleasure working along side her on this project. She is thrilled and excited to be a new home owner. The sad part is that now she has moved out of “dad’s” house.

After moving Amy on Saturday, later in the evening I was chilling at home watching a movie with Lisa and Matt when my middle daughter, Sara, came home with an engagement ring on her left hand!! Wow – transitions!! I am very happy for her and Josh and obviously wish them all the happiness possible. I knew this engagement was looking more and more likely so it was not a total suprise but it is still very exciting and am thrilled for Sara.

I am extremely proud of both girls. They have continued to live and thrive. They have continued to make wise choices. I know they miss their Mother. I know Carol would be absolutely thrilled for both of them right now...

As we live our lives, seeking God’s will for them, things continue to change. God has blessed me/us with many new experiences and relationships. I am glad to see the kids “move forward” in their lives because, in a sense, that makes it more possible for me to do the same.

God continues to bless!