So, I’m headed off to Nicaragua on a mission trip.  It will be my second one, my first was to Honduras nearly 6 years ago.  I’m really looking forward to it for a variety of reasons.  I was very hesitant to sign up because it’s strange to think about being away from the kids for a week, especially since I’m the only parent.  This will be the longest I’ve been away from them since Wendy died.

I think it will do us all some good though.  I know I will learn a great deal and hope that God will use me and teach me more about Him.  I also think it’s a good example for my kids.  L has already asked me close to 1,000 questions about why I am going and what it will be like.  “What will your bed be like, will it be comfortable, how big will it be?  Will you be in a hotel like a Holiday Inn or something?  Will you be in the jungle, will it rain, will there be rivers, lakes, and ponds?  Will there be jungle animals like mountain lions or pumas?  Will there be snakes?”  She hasn’t liked my answers; that I don’t know what it will be like and I’m going because God tells us to go and tell others about Him.  She said she wants to go with me, but first would have to see a lot of pictures.  I told her I’d do my best to take a lot of pictures and that I’d love for her to go sometime.

So, back to why I’m going and leaving the kids for a week.  First, I’ve recently re-learned that we are commanded to go in the verses known as “The Great Commission”.  Matthew 28:19 “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…”  I mentioned the book Radical by David Platt a couple of posts ago and he really hit home with that one.  In the church today we’ve made it about “feeling called or lead” to do this or that.  But, that’s not biblical.  Biblically we’re commanded to go.  So, I signed up and said let’s go.

From what I know we’ll be building a church during the day and leading some discipleship groups at night.  It may end up being just that or something completely different depending on circumstances and conditions.  All I know is that I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store and am willing whatever that may be.

Poison Flowers

I’m headed to another funeral today.  This one of a young father, the father of one of L’s classmates.  He drown last Sunday – Father’s day – swimming after a nephew who had floated out too far.  The nephew was saved but this man lost his life trying to save another.  Beautiful, and terribly sad.

I did not know the family, but have heard wonderful things about them.  L knows the daughter her age, and I’ve heard her name some the past few years.  L has impressed me this week in praying for them.  When I asked her if she’d like to go to the funeral she said yes without hesitation, which surprised me a bit.  She’s growing and maturing, I hope she can learn to be there for her friend in a way others can’t.  Maybe it will bring some healing for all of them.  Again, beautiful to see, but sad that she already knows some of what her friend will deal with in the coming years.

I’ve decided the best analogy for these kind of memories is a simple phrase – poison flowers, beauty mixed with pain and hurt that could kill if dwelt on too deeply.  Now June will be incredibly difficult for another family for years to come.  I pray the flowers of memories, and thoughts of things not done and said, don’t become too posionous for them.

“And June is like the echo,

of the sounds we never made.

I swear they find me in my waking hours

30 days like poison flowers.”  Josh Ritter, Song for the Fireflies

Four Years

Four years.  That’s how long Wendy has been in heaven.  M is now four years old, the same age as L was when their momma died.  L has now had as many birthdays without her mom as she had with her.  She’s lived the same amount of time without a mom as she lived with one.    Surreal.  That being said the kids are doing well.  They’re healthy, growing like crazy, and are a lot of fun – well most of the time anyway…

I’ve learned as much about people, life and God in the past four years as I did in the previous 32 plus (it’s getting way close to 33, but I’m not going to get ahead of myself).  If I hadn’t had those previous years, I wouldn’t have had the foundation to stand on to survive the last four though.

Here are some quick thoughts on things I continue to learn:

  1. This is not our home, was never meant to be.  We were made for eternal fellowship with God, and Heaven is the only place I believe we’ll ever fully feel at home.
  2. I have great family and friends who continue to pray for, encourage, and support me and the kids.  Thank you.
  3. “Your worn out favorite pair of jeans, I remember everything.”  I can’t not have a line from or reference a song or book when I write; so, that one is from the Turnpike Troubadours.  Somewhat of a blessing and somewhat of a curse, but I do remember everything.  Especially the jeans she left hanging on the hook in her closet from the last time she wore them, waiting to be worn again once she could fit back into them.
  4. Being a single parent is dang hard.  Support all of them that you know in whatever way you can.  It’s tough to keep up with work, kids, and a household.
  5. Have a written “Bucket List” and do stuff on it.  Include spiritual to do’s as well, and continually update it.  Live your life now cause you never know if you’ll see tomorrow.
  6. Make a difference, use your talents and spiritual gifts to make a difference in others.  Your life will be more full for it and you’ll be changed.
  7. Challenge yourself.  I just read, and did my best to teach the book “Radical – Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream” by David Platt.  It’s a great read and I recommend it, but you will be severely challenged.

I am ever thankful for all the prayers and support you all give me and the kids, it does make a difference.  Thank you.

Being Used

I don’t remember if I have written this or not, and I’m not taking the time to go back and read through my early posts – it’s just sort of tough and weird to read those often.  To get on with what I’m going to say, the one thing I prayed from the earliest moments of the beginning of Wendy’s collapse to her death and immediately after was that God use the situation, that it wouldn’t just be a death that occurred.  That’s one of the main reasons I wrote on the blog early on and post from time to time to this day.

Sometimes I wish I hadn’t said or prayed that, there may have been a time or two it was more of a threat…  I meant it when I said it, and I still do mean it.  I want God to use Wendy’s death to further his kingdom and help others.  And I know that’s happening.  In addition to this blog and the numerous people I’ve talked to and walked with in our grief journeys our story was told publicly in two different ways in 2010.  My story was in a nationally published book and shown on a video at church at our “Hope for Lubbock” service.

Our story got one paragraph on page 169 of “O Me of Little Faith” by Jason Boyett.  My name was changed to Mike.  I wasn’t aware I was going to be in the book and had two friends call me and ask why my name was Mike.  Apparently the paragraph was a late addition to the book and Jason didn’t have time to go through all the hoops to get permission from me to use my real name.  It’s funny, I never thought of being mentioned in a book unless I wrote my own.  I was honored for the story to make the book and appreciate the fact I was spoken of complimentary.  I always figured I’d need to write my own book to get mentioned in one, maybe one of these days.

Our church had an incredible Thanksgiving service, it was called “Hope for Lubbock”.  Three churches and the Tech football team partnered together to serve a Thanksgiving meal to over 500 needy people.  Most in attendance were in need of hope, some were homeless and others were just in need of some love.  All who came were encouraged to stay for the service and afterwards some Thanksgiving meal kits were handed out.  Somewhere along the way the kids and I were included in a video with 4 other people telling their stories of hope.  Here’s the link:  You Changed My Name Video.

I hope and pray our story is being used to give hope and encouragement to others and hope it does so through the book and video.  I would never have chosen to be used by God in this way, I doubt I’ll ever like it, but I do believe He is using our story.


So, way to early this morning, I’m still up and writing on this blog again.  I have some drafts I’ve been working on that I was going to publish at some point on dealing with grief and some ways to potentially help others deal with grief.  I’m going to have to start working on those again if I can make the time and find the energy to do so.  However, right now I’m dealing with one of the other stages of grief – Anger. 

I’ll start by saying I believe God is God, He is in control, and has His plans for each and every one of us.  I don’t doubt that in the least.  Right now I just don’t like what I see going on, but He didn’t ask me and I know it’s okay for me to be mad, at least for a little while.

I am angry because another young mother died.  She died due to a car accident she was in this past Sunday.  Her name was Brie Gomez; 30 years old, wife of Eric, mother of a 6-year-old daughter, a 23 month old daughter, and a 30 week old baby boy who is currently in NICU – who had to be taken from his mother by C-Section due to the car accident.  Pray for them.

I have been a bit angry and felt a ton of empathy for all the young widows and widowers I’ve come across.  I’ve even known some of them before they became widowed.  This time was a bit different though and a different level of anger.  See, Brie lived in Lubbock and we went to the same church at the time of my wife Wendy’s death.  We’d played in a volleyball league against each other.  After Wendy died, Brie contacted me and volunteered her services for Lauren.  Brie was a counselor and certified play therapist.  She freely gave of her time and herself to help my daughter learn to cope and deal with some of her feelings and emotions after her mother’s death three and half years ago.  I told Brie I was thankful and grateful for the work she did with Lauren then, and I told her that again recently in an email about two months ago, so glad I did.

I don’t know how heaven works.  If there are hugs and greetings in heaven as is suggested in some books, like 90 Minutes in Heaven, then I’d like to believe that Wendy was one of those who greeted Brie and gave her a huge hug and thank you for how she helped our daughter out.  Even if that’s not the case, I’m willing to bet there’s been some interaction between the two up there. 

I don’t grieve for Brie.  I know she is Home, where she’s always longed to be.  She is not sad, hurting, or worried – she is free.  For this I am thankful.

I am ticked though.  I am angry for what Eric will have to deal with, what his kids will have to try to come to terms with, for the long road they have ahead.  I’m ticked that Brie is not there to help them through this, as she was for us.  It’s not right, just not right, and I’m ticked.   That being said, I will do what I can for Eric and his kids because that’s what Brie did for us, and that’s what God would have us do for all.


Twelve years ago today Wendy and I were married.  I’ve thought about taking this post in about 42 different directions.  Stories about the calamities surrounding our wedding and honeymoon.  Things going on with the kids.  Things going on with me.  I could say a lot about life and some of the stuff going on and other stuff not going on.  Complain about changing M’s sheets 3 times this weekend and going through about 5 sets of clothes – it was one of those weekends.  I won’t complain anymore than writing what I just wrote.

Through everything that’s occurred – good, bad and otherwise; if I had it to do all over again I’d still have married her twelve years ago.

The end.

For Some New Readers

Wow, a new post.  It’s been quite a while hasn’t it?  Well, I know there are a few new readers out there that have contacted me through different sources.  At least two new young widows with kids and a few others with different situations.  Death just really sucks.  It hits me so hard each time I hear a new story.  Death and the suffering left in it’s wake doesn’t make sense, never will.  And typically, most answers to the question of why ring hollow. 

I was contacted by one of these people last night and couldn’t sleep, so I picked up a book I’ve been reading bit by bit for some time now – The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus by Brennan Manning.  I’m a big fan of his, but his books are difficult for me.  Not difficult to understand, but difficult for me to read because he writes truth that sometimes hits too close to home and is hard for me to put into practice .  Well, last night I read one of his answers to the question of why we suffer.  Last night his answer didn’t ring hollow.  So I thought I’d put it up for the new readers and any of the old who may need some different insight into the age old question of why God allows suffering.

It is through such failure and weeping that the Abba of Jesus conforms us to the image of His Son.  Yet if our faith is not alive and dynamically operative, suffering is absurd, pointless.  When someone we love meets with a violent accident, when a child is brutally murdered or dies of cancer, when a deep relationship is broken up, when 269 people die as a Korean jetliner is shot out of the sky over Russian territory – when any disappointment or upheaval strikes – despair may set in.  Shaking our fists, pounding the air, we ask the futile question, Why, why, why?  Most of all, why me?  What have I done to deserve it?  If I were God, I wouldn’t allow such awful things to happen.  How can there be a God of love when the world is full of suffering?  We conclude that either God is cruel, unjust and without mercy, or there is no God and we are adrift in total chaos.  It’s a classic double bind, a Catch-22 situation.  Heads nobody wins, tails we all lose.  (pp.87-88)

 Then a few pages later…

In our showdown, when it’s our turn to be broken at the wheel; when we want to run away into drinking, drugging, or sexual license; when we want to flee into fantasy or self-pity, there lies the option of acceptance of the cross of Jesus Christ and the possibility of salvation and growth for ourselves and others. We can say to the God of our dark journey, “For what it’s worth, here it is. Take it and use it. Use it for the hungry, the homeless, the lonely; for the man down the road who has lost both his job and his wife; for the friend whose little girl has been killed. Use it to help me understand, to be less self-centered, more loving.”

We may have to say it with clenched teeth as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, in doubt and fear but in full acceptance of what had to be. Is any real knowledge of Jesus possible if we do not experience His sorrow, loneliness and pain? In the neighborhood where I grew up in Brooklyn, there lived an elderly Jewish couple who were always kind to me. One afternoon, sitting on a bench on the boardwalk in Coney Island, the old man said to me: “I love my wife with all my heart, but there is a part of her past that is sealed off. She was in Auschwitz in the forties. She has never spoken about it. After all these years of marriage, I can’t say that I really know her.”  Is any real knowledge of Jesus Christ possible without sharing in the fellowship of His suffering?  (pp.91-92)

I can’t say this will help anyone else, but for me, last night, it made the thought of suffering and some of the trials I’ve been through ring a little less hollow and seem a little less pointless.


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