Fairly miserable weather withstanding, my trip to Chicago was fantastic. In some ways, it wasn’t what I expected it to be, but it was everything I could have hoped it would be. Much of what made it so worthwhile were the stories and revelations I came home with.

I rode the Megabus to and from Chicago through the night, so I slept for most of my traveling hours. About one hour prior to arriving, however, I woke up and knew I wouldn’t fall back asleep so I pulled out a book to read. This book was the very same as I started reading when Stephanie died — a book my mother had given her to read. Anyway, the gentleman next to me commented on how good the author is and asked me how long I’ve been a Christian. We then, as brothers in Christ, shared each of our stories (I stole more of the time, for which I hope he doesn’t mind). After exiting the bus, we prayed for each other and got in touch in order to stay in touch. What really amazed me through this event and the entire weekend is the providence of God. He most definitely got me to start reading that book in a way only God knows how. And, guilty though I felt about it, I have put off reading it for the past 6+ months only to end up pulling it out of my book bag at this very moment. My seat partner knew the author and struck up a conversation. He also chuckled because he had been praying to God that he would sit next to another Christian. God really does have a plan for everything, and it’s so exciting to watch.

Friday morning was a gorgeous day, and it gave me a chance to have a slow breakfast outside while reading some more. It was such a meaningful time between me and God, as He reassured me in so many ways through the words of this book. I feel compelled to share so much of it, but will save that for later. Suffice it to say, that I would highly recommend everyone read “When Life is Hard” by James MacDonald regardless of whether or not you’re going through something you would categorize as hard. The rest of Friday was just a day out in the city, enjoying the weather and beautiful flowers along Michigan Avenue. God even blessed me with some opportunities to talk to friends on the phone and be encouraged by them and be an encouragement to them. I can’t explain to you the joy I feel when people can come to me for advice and I can feel God speaking through me to them.

Sadly, the weather went downhill from 11am Friday until I left, but I ignored that as best I could. I basically got to enjoy my time alone and also time with family and friends who live there. As is becoming more commonplace, I go into these situations expecting my heart to be wrenched into a mess, and yet I come away surprised at how little or how not at all I cried. And it’s all thanks to God.

I also chatted with the maître d’hôtel, who was there last year as well. I recognized him immediately and he vaguely remembered me and Stephanie. (It’s nothing short of amazing that a year can go by and he remembers me.) That is just the kind of reason why we hoped to frequent the same hotel, and I am so thankful to God to have had a familiar face. We talked quite a bit before I left the hotel for the weekend, and it was so wonderful to be able to share with him what had happened and thank him genuinely for being there and being so kind and welcoming. I told him how much we both enjoyed him last year and how great it was to see him again.

One thing that has been on my mind for some time now is what to do with this blog. I often think no one is still reading, but the response to my posts from that week say otherwise. I obviously can’t spend the rest of my life just blogging about the death of my wife, nor do I want to. (Plus, I’m sure that wouldn’t do a whole lot of good for attracting a potential wife.) Anyway, God has reminded me of my spiritual gifts: exhortation, teaching, and shepherding. I’m certain I need to be using these gifts, and also certain that God has given me a place to do it. (Note to self: write more about how God has used a Computer Science major, a Bible minor, and a desire to disciple others all via one outlet.) So, as long as God continues to bless it and people are still willing to read, I hope to share my thoughts on God and life and how I think we should live. And with that, I hope there’s also some sort of discussion. I very much appreciate the comments of support for me, but would be infinitely more blessed by God teaching us all more about Him through each other.

Thanks again for being a part of this.

13 thoughts on “Chicago”

  1. Brad, Thanks for sharing. I’m sure you have a lot more impaortant things to do with two young children, beside updating us, but we are all rooting for your healing, and continued happiness. I’m also happy that you are considering getting remarried. I’m thrilled that it was a good weekend considering that it was your anniversary weekend, and knowing it could be painful. God certainly has His arms wrapped around you and your children. There are a lot of us still reading your journal entries faithfully. Much love to you and your family

  2. Brad- have you ever thought about doing an online Bible study type thing? I have wanted to join something like that for a while but haven’t found the right opportunity anywhere yet. I bet you would be great as a discussion leader for either christian book club or Bible study type online group. Just an idea ;) i still love reading your blogs, you are very inspiring. Have a wonderful week, God bless!

    1. I love your idea, Holly, and am seriously considering it. I really feel like God often reveals a lot to me through the words I read, whether in the Bible or elsewhere. Anyway, it’s a great idea, and thanks for it!

  3. I love reading your blogs and I share them with Nathan since he refusing to use social networking anything :) Although, he does read your blog entries once in a while as well, which is saying something. He breaks his rules about social networking for you :) You are such an inspiration to all of us and most importantly a servant of God completely surrendered to His calling for your life. We are excited to see what happens next and to support you along in any way we can.

    1. Thanks for getting Nathan in on this, too, even though it’s not something he would normally do. :) And thank you for your kind words.

  4. I am so glad that you ae seeing how God is using this for His glory. People need to be constantly encouraged when life doesn’t make sense and I see your situation as a way that God is showing His people that He is always there for them. As for your future wife, I am sure that she will be encouraged by what you have allowed God to do through you in this blog. It has been very good for me to read through your journey and see how similar my thoughts and experiences have been to yours in my own loss. Just to know that someone else is walking through the same thing is encouraging to me. Thank you for sharing.
    Much love in Christ

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. It means so much to me to be able to share my story and what God is doing through it. I love that I can give glory to God and make it so public. I hope that it only increases the glory He receives exponentially. Thank you for your comment. I’m so glad to have so many brothers and sisters in Christ sharing in this.

  5. I agree with everything everyone said above!

    Also, so cool how God works. Thanks for sharing the past 6+ months with us and pointing so many people to Christ.

    1. It blesses me to do so more than I can tell you. I could never imagine deciding not to share given the way God has really been close to me through this.

  6. You know, Brad…all I have to say is that I personally feel honored to be a part of your blog…you, my friend, even though we have not “officially” ever met each other, have provided me with MANY opportunities to view life in a different, more Christ-Centered way…and I, for one, DO each and every word…I thank God our paths have crossed…and I truly value your teachings and life-lessons… :-)

    1. Your words mean so much to me – that someone would be honored to read my story is such a testament to Who God is and how He works through our lives in the lives of others. And, it is incredible encouragement to me. Thank you!

  7. Brad, it would be such a loss to me if you didn’t continue with your blogging. I’ve been reading since prayer requests were posted on FB for Stephanie. Prayed and shared your blog with our church family (who still all read!) During your days in the hospital, a dear friends daughter gave birth to a stillborn son, & my sister suddenly passed away at age 49, totally unexpectedly. Reading your blog and how you’ve been dealing with your loss has pretty much kept me sane these last 6+ months. So selfishly I ask that you don’t stop! As long as you still have something to say I and I know many more are all waiting to read it.

    1. Praise God that He could use me for your benefit! God is so constantly impressing on me that He has an amazing plan. Even if it never has any direct good for my life, I’m so thankful for the way He is encouraging others. (And, it does have good for me, as I am so filled to overflowing by Him through how He is involving me in all this.) I’m so sorry about your and your friend’s losses, but so happy to hear that God has spoken to you through it.

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