Anniversary

Six years ago. May 14, 2005.

What do I even say here? Five and a half years is such a short, short time, especially when we both dreamed of celebrating 50 or more. And yet, there was an entire lifetime wrapped up in those years, almost as if it had been 50. I can only imagine how 45 more years would have felt.

What do you do for an anniversary that isn’t actually happening anymore? My heart breaks for so many people that deal with this, possibly on an even more difficult level, because of divorce. And I weep. I don’t know how they do it. I do know how I plan to do it, though. I plan to celebrate.

God gave us 5 1/2 years of a beautiful marriage, and I feel blessed beyond belief for what He gave us. Last year, for our five year anniversary, we went to Chicago. It was our first time leaving the kids for more than one night. And it came at a perfect time in our marriage. It was such a wonderful weekend, we planned to go back often, even as early again as Stephanie’s birthday in October. That didn’t happen, but going back this year was a definite in our minds. We wanted to be regulars at the hotel. We enjoyed being “loyalistas” (a made up word, I realize) like that.

Well, you know the story, and here I am today. I don’t remember when I first thought I would go back to Chicago in spite of everything, but it was likely way back in October. I couldn’t think of a better thing to do for God, for myself, and for Stephanie. As I’ve done all along, I won’t avoid the memories or any pain they might cause. I’m not going to hide from life as I knew it or know it now. And I’m going full in and full on.

I’m excited. I’m going to have a full weekend to spend contemplating (there’s that word again), praying, reading and introspecting. I plan to celebrate the marriage I had, praise God for it and accept in every way possible that it’s over — though I’ve tried to do that all along. Maybe even more importantly, I’m going to talk to God a lot about my future.

I appreciate how many of you have expressed that you believe a new marriage is in my future. I agree. One thing I haven’t broadcast is my conviction that I’m “ready” for that, even now. To be honest, I’ve felt ready since February, and those closest in my life have seen that. I talked with my counselor about it a lot, and he said the same. I only didn’t broadcast it because I wasn’t sure if others were ready for me to be ready.

I loved Stephanie dearly, of course, and I feel that I’m honoring her to move on. She and I talked long before the seizures started about remarriage if the worst were to happen. We were both very happy for the other to find someone else if it came to that. That’s yet another way God has shown me that He has a plan — that we even talked about such things. I know in my heart that I have no greater cheerleader regarding this than Stephanie. I can just picture her nudging God that He should bring someone into my life. I know she would never want me to be alone, and I know she wants a mother for her children.

My passion, dream and goal for my life has always been Ephesians 5:21-33, that I would have a wife and be able to sacrifice myself for her. (More on that in a later post.) I’m excited for this weekend, and for the chance to really talk to God about that and even pray that I don’t have to wait long to have that again.

Aside from October, this is the last big date that I expect might be hard. This weekend is an opportunity for me to place a pile of stones (Joshua 4) as a remembrance of God’s faithfulness and goodness and what He has brought me through.

26 thoughts on “Anniversary”

  1. Brad, your expressed sentiments are beautiful and such an inspiration. I'm keeping my eyes open for beautiful young women worthy of your attention to send your way. God bless you and I pray that He satisfys your heart and your soul. You are an amazing man. :)

  2. you know I am one of your biggest cheerleaders and a full supporter of knowing when YOU are ready. The people that love you will want nothing more. I think you have a whole army of people and angels giving God that little nudge. Enjoy your time this weekend. I think it is beautiful that you are going.

  3. Love you Brad…I know how much she loved Chicago…I have a whole roll of pictures she took for me there-Starbucks​, random people doing hilarious things…it makes me laugh every time I look them. Have fun, process, and yes, look toward your future-I know that is what she would've wanted

  4. Amen. Brad… You're great… :) Your perspective on life reminds me daily we serve a living God who is SO gracious in the midst of trial. He's given you an amazing heart of gold and an outlook second to none. Praise His faithfulness! I'm excited for you to have a great weekend in Chicago… I'll be prayin the rain away and pray your time with God is full of peace and comfort. P.S. Pastor Dan was literally just sharing a story with me today about Joshua 4 with the stones… He mentioned he did something similar after he met Joy. :) An alter for His faithfulness.

  5. Brad, I respect your servant's heart to honor God and Stephanie, a Proverbs 31 woman. As far as moving on, my aunt lost her husband nearly 12 years ago and she still wears the wedding ring.

  6. Brad, I’m so happy for you. Happy that even in these difficult days you keep putting one foot in front of the other. Happy that you are doing all of the things that you liked to do. Happy that you are going to celebrate your anniversary. And happiest that you are ready to find a wife again. I’ve prayed that God would open your heart to the thought of being married again. Have a wonderful weekend. Love to you and your children

  7. Brad as usuaual you amaze me to see a guy who is so good at expressing their emotions and ffelings is amazing and I applaud you for getting out their and living life out loud that is what Stephanie would have wanted too…… Have a blast in Chicago……

  8. Brad, your expressed sentiments are beautiful and such an inspiration. I'm keeping my eyes open for beautiful young women worthy of your attention to send your way. God bless you and I pray that He satisfys your heart and your soul. You are an amazing man. :)

  9. Love you Brad…I know how much she loved Chicago…I have a whole roll of pictures she took for me there-Starbucks, random people doing hilarious things…it makes me laugh every time I look them. Have fun, process, and yes, look toward your future-I know that is what she would've wanted

  10. you know I am one of your biggest cheerleaders and a full supporter of knowing when YOU are ready. The people that love you will want nothing more. I think you have a whole army of people and angels giving God that little nudge. Enjoy your time this weekend. I think it is beautiful that you are going.

  11. I never expected such an overwhelming and wonderful response to this post. Thank you all so much! Once again, you've all touched my heart so deeply and God keeps showing His glory in new and bigger ways.

  12. If it rains, dance in it. I didn't get to know Stephanie, but I have a feeling that either her (or you) would have pulled the other out into the rain and had fun. You're a good dude, and continue to defy odds and continue to defy the world.

  13. Reading about your anniversary brought back so many memories of your wedding day, and the days, weeks, months of hearing about the plans as we worked with Stephanie in the church office.
    It also made me think of a time more than 30 years ago when a friend of ours, a man in his 70s who had lost his wife to cancer, remarried. The wedding was in New Jersey, but at the reception in Ohio, he said that when his wife died, he started praying for a new wife because God said “It is not good for man to live alone.” And then he said “And I believe what God said, so when my wife died, I started praying for a new wife and God answered my prayers.” They had many happy years together–and we were so happy for them!

    1. I loved your comment, Kathy, as I have often thought about (and reminded God) that He was the One Who said it’s not good for man to be alone. That’s been my thought all along, and I never had any intention of waiting longer than I needed – simply prayerfully seeking God to ensure that I would be fair to my future wife, my kids, myself and to Stephanie with regards to my heart. God has brought me through my grief on such an accelerated time frame, for which I’m so thankful, that I have to think He has something planned.

  14. Brad, this is awesome. I would love to hear more about your trip, I pray it was an amazing (if heartwrenching) experience. I too pray that you will find another with whom to share your life. I find it hard to believe that the Lord would want you to grow old alone; and your children to remain motherless. Although I don’t know the Lord’s plans for you, I do know His heart, and I know that, no matter what, He will care for you. We do not grieve as those who have no hope. You have grieved as one with hope, and with confident peace that Stephanie is safe with her Heavenly Father, you have the bravery & boldness to move forward in this life, and I applaud you for it!

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