The rain came

A few years ago, in the wake of my wife’s death, I added a second floor to my one-story bungalow. My counselor and I had a conversation about how the project was progressing. I was building my house on a promise that I felt was from God. That promise was that I would be married again someday and get to have more children. (As it was, my two kids and I didn’t need the extra space.) It was a promise I believed, and so I added a second floor.

As I discussed this with my counselor, he said he was reminded of Noah. Noah was told by God that it would rain, and so Noah built an ark (per God’s instruction). I was told by God that I would be married again, and so I built a bigger house. I followed my counselor’s idea, and wrote on some of the construction: “The rain is coming.”

Well, the rain came.

On Wednesday, January 13, I had my parents and girlfriend over to celebrate my birthday. After dinner came the opening of presents. The last present I opened had some slightly more — shall we say — unique gifts. The first item was an angel with the Noah’s Ark story depicted on the bottom of her dress. I pulled it out, recounting to Julie the conversation I had had with my counselor years prior. She thought it was cool, but still thought it was for me, so I pushed it towards her. “This is actually for you.”


As she surveyed the angel, I returned to my box and took out a dozen roses. I then turned to kneel in front of her. She had posted on her Facebook years ago just before Christmas, “All I really want for Christmas is for a wonderful man to send me beautiful roses, with a note saying how much they love me and don’t want to picture their life without me. Then for that sentiment not to change for next infinity of Christmases! :) Now that would be absolutely amazing!”

And so, as I knelt in front of her, I told her, “You’ve wanted a man to give you roses and profess his love for you. Well, I do love you, and I want to spend my life with you. Will you marry me?” After her answer, some tears and smiles, and hugs and kisses, I presented her with the final item from my box: an engagement ring.

After we embraced each other in celebration, I returned to my dwindling stack of presents. I grabbed the last present and gave it to Julie’s 2-1/2-year-old daughter, Hannah. She opened it to find a plush Noah’s Ark with animals stored inside. And I told her that I would love to be her daddy. I asked her if she would like that. She, like her mommy, said “yes.”

As I have read the story of Noah recently, I have taken note especially of how he sent out a dove so that he would know when land could be found. I liken our relationship to that story. It began raining last summer as I met Julie; the flood endured while we got to know each other and dated; and now, the dove has come back to me having found land. She is the land I have been searching for all these years. And now, my house can be fully used as we add two beautiful ladies to our family.

Here is Julie’s take on that night.

Giving a good gift

As Mother’s Day approached, it was obvious it was on the minds of my kids. There’s no doubt it was a frequent topic of conversation in their classrooms; as well it should be. But there’s no avoiding the very real wounds left by the loss of a parent.

We concluded one of our evenings this week in the usual way by reading the Bible. This time, it was about heaven, giving expression to John’s vision as described in Revelation. And Brady, my always sweet boy, began crying. “As soon as I get to heaven, I’m going to cry to see Mommy.” He is so keen to his own feelings. “Every one has a mommy, pretty much, except for me!”

Halle chimed in. “Everyone in my class has a mommy, too, except for me. Now Brady is making me sad.” She wasn’t blaming him, so much as just recognizing her own sadness. She’s sad that she doesn’t really remember Mommy. She wishes she knew her better, but is glad “Mommy looked like me.”

They both are so hopeful for me to find a new mommy. And that’s where it gets tough for me.

When it comes to parenting, one of my go-to verses is in Matthew 7:11, where Jesus is talking about prayer: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” As I read this, I hear it as a call for me to do like God and give good gifts to my children, especially when they ask. (Emphasis on “good” there, because I won’t just give them anything they ask for. In the same way, God knows more than us, so won’t give us everything we ask for.)

So, when the thing my children are most asking for is a new mommy, and it’s the very thing I want to give them, and it’s a good thing that I can find no “bad” in, it breaks my heart tremendously that it’s the only thing I can’t give them. I have tried my best for nearly 4 years now to give them just that.

So, I’ve decided that we’re going to spend the next 100 days in consistent prayer for a new mommy. And we’re going to wait and see what God decides to do. I’m circling August 17 on my calendar.

And the thing of it is this: there’s more that I’m just beginning to learn now. From long ago — even before Stephanie was officially pronounced dead — I have been giving up my pain to God over losing her. I would say I gave up most of that pain 4 years ago and have given up more as time has ticked on. But now, I’m truly starting to learn the pain of my children’s loss. And so, I am starting to learn how to give that up to God. It’s critical that I don’t drive my kids to find their hope in getting a new mommy, but that they rather find all their hope in God. And may I do the same.


We were driving back from a day of boating with my family. My dad was driving and I had my eyes closed in the back seat next to Halle. Given the chance to be a passenger for the hour-long drive home was a welcome change of pace, and I didn’t want to miss it for getting some rest.


“Yes, Halle?” I opened my eyes to look at her.

“Can you please close that?” She pointed up at the built-in shade for the moon roof above her. I reached up and pulled it shut, then went back to closing my eyes and resting. I did it without even thinking. I wasn’t bothered in the slightest way to have to open my eyes to do something for her.

Then I remembered a verse that so often comes to mind as I raise my kids: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

This verse often plays two ways in my mind. First, I remember that it is right and good for me to give good things to my children. Second, I remember that God gives good things to me and desires to give good things to me.

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'” (Genesis 2:18)
“He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 18:22)

I immediately and earnestly took on the heart of a child; God’s child. It was not something that took effort. It happened so naturally. But I felt just like Halle must have felt in that moment. I’ve never felt so child-like before in my life. And I echoed her words, slightly altered, and imitating her attitude.

I prayed in my thoughts: “Daddy, can You please give me a wife?”

I’ve prayed for another wife for over 3 years now, so this is nothing new, but the childlike innocence I felt in that moment will not long be forgotten. Even now, weeks later, I can vividly remember how I asked the question.

A tear dropped from my eye and I went back to resting.

Free trip

I got a mailer informing me that I was being offered two (2) free airline tickets and a however-many-night stay in a hotel. Call for details.

I don’t mind free, so I called the number. You know… for details. I gave him my offer number.

“Congratulations, sir, that is a valid offer number. This is being offered by a new travel company in your area. All we ask is that you come in and meet us and watch a presentation.”

I’m not surprised. I expected as much. I was prepared to sit through a presentation and claim my offer without being swindled into buying something else. I have no problem saying “no.”

“Now, this offer is only for people who are married or cohabiting. Are you?”

“No, I’m not.”

“You’re single single?”

Am I what? Is that a thing? What does that even mean? Well, since I don’t want to be more single than plain single… “I’m widowed.” Widowed is also very different than single. I don’t feel single, let alone “single single.”

“Okay, well, I’m sorry but we can only offer this to people who are married or cohabiting. We have another offer that’s available to you, though, for a Caribbean cruise…”

I stopped caring. Maybe I was annoyed that cohabiting is on the list of applicants. Or maybe it was “single single.” Or maybe I was even just surprised I didn’t get the usual “I’m sorry to hear that” about being widowed. (In reality, I’m done with sympathy at this point, but am just so used to getting it that it’s odd when I don’t.) Whatever the case, I don’t want to go on a Caribbean cruise alone. It’s unfortunate, too. That plane ticket could have been very useful in my dating life for visiting someone new on the other side of the country. (Try as I might, “someone local” seems to be a very difficult thing to attain.)


Just one

I went to a marriage conference last weekend.


I totally did.

On Valentine’s Day.

Here’s the thing about me: I love marriage. And not only did I love being married, but I truly love the institution of marriage. I love seeing my friends and family who are married. I love seeing senior citizens walking hand-in-hand. I love celebrating new marriages. And I would fight tooth and nail for any marriage to survive.

So don’t feel bad for me. It was completely my choice to go. I’m not looking for any sympathy here.

To me, there is nothing better on this earth than marriage. It is the closest representation of the relationship Christ has with His bride (the “capital ‘c'” Church). I also believe it is the greatest testimony of God’s love for us in a world of people who doubt that God even exists.

So, I went to a marriage conference. And not just any marriage conference, but one put on by my favorite author, Gary Thomas, and based on my favorite book on the subject of marriage – Sacred Marriage. If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend it. (And I don’t strongly recommend things to the general public because any form of art is going to touch people as differently as each person is different.) But I’m just saying: you should read it.

I walked in the doors to my church towards the welcome table. The woman behind the table had two name tags in her hand ready to give to the next couple who came up. I took one. And I wrote my name. While I placed the tag on my shirt, she asks, “Just one?”

Not quite sure what to say, I just said, “Yes. Just one.” In my head, all I’m thinking about is how I clearly walked in unaccompanied and deliberately grabbed only one name tag and filled it out. You would hope that my wife would have been with me if she was coming along. But so be it.

“Yes. Just one.”

“Okay. Here’s a program. Did you only need one?”

Umm… should we really go over this again? Tell you what. Maybe she’s here. Maybe there was another “just one” who came in before me. Did you see her? Could you tell her I’m here now. Actually, now that I think about it, Gary Thomas is an ordained minister. I’m sure we can remedy this status of mine right here and now. She can be my “plus one” so we’re both no longer “just one.” Then I can take your two programs you had ready. And the extra name tag. We can take care of this “just one” thing so it’s less complicated.

Actually, I bet there’s a discount for married couples! If I find my “plus one,” can we still cash in on that discount?

To be fair, I’m sure she wasn’t expecting a widower to waltz up to her table. Likely, she took time beforehand to pair off name tags and programs because she knew the majority of the attendees would be paired off as well.

“Yes. Just one.”

Next time, so that it’s obvious, I’ll walk up to the table waving around my ringless left hand straight in front of me.

ring finger

I didn’t really much consider that I was a single guy in a sea of married couples finding out how to better their marriage. I was just there so that I can better the marriage I intend on having someday. While sitting in the front row, I turned around at one point and very much realized how I was in the vast minority. It felt weird for a second, but I just smiled and started taking notes again.

And let me just say that the conference was awesome! I loved every minute of it. And as if there wasn’t enough for me to love during the “marriage” portion, he even had a bonus session for people who are dating or who know someone who is dating. (It was based on another fabulous book, Sacred Search. Consequently, I highly recommend any singles out there to read it.) I think I fit into that category. “Just one” was the clear winner in that crowd.

I’m sorry to say I didn’t get to walk back up to the table to request that extra program and name tag. But, this conference was my favorite thing I could have done with my time. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.*

I was, of course, so thrilled to get to talk to Mr. Thomas for a few minutes after the event. “Thank you for what you’re doing. I’m widowed, and just love marriage and look forward to cultivating another marriage based on the biblical principles you put forth in your book. Can I give you a hug?” (Oh yes, I did. And I gave him a hug. He also signed my 10-year-old copy of Sacred Marriage.)

*Name that movie


“Daddy, do you miss having Mommy?”

“Yes, Brady, I do.”

“Me, too.”

And then the conversation becomes about finding a new mommy. I’m reading a book about dating as a single parent, so I want to put some of that into practice — notably, to make sure they are “okay” with me dating. For that to happen, I need to make sure they understand dating as best as possible.

“In order to find a new mommy, I’ll need to get to know her and become best friends with her. That might mean I’m not with you all the time like I am now, but I promise to do my best to spend as much time with you and still get to know her.

“I also want to make sure you know that she’s not going to be just like Mommy. She’ll look different and act different and like different things. But, she will love me and she will love both of you. And she’ll be just the right wife for me and just the right mommy for both of you. And we’ll all love her.”

Brady chimes in: “I’m bored without a mommy.” I guess we need to work a little on the meaning of “bored,” but I think I understand what he means. He’s tired of this feeling of not having a mommy around. Like me, he’s just weary of that absence in our lives. It’s getting old.

He adds, “I feel like mommy’s been gone for five years.” (It’s been a little over 2 1/2.)

And then Halle speaks up. “Well, I feel like she’s been gone for SIX years,” says my four-year old.

Good talk, kids. Good talk.

Location Undisclosed

While at the pool, Halle bounced happily over to me.

“Daddy, when is my mommy going to come?”

I caught my breath and stuttered a bit. I drew her close. “Honey, don’t you remember? Mommy died.”

“No, Daddy!” she said indignantly, “My other mommy.”

This made it obvious to me (and I asked in order to clarify) that she was asking about a “new” mommy. I informed her that I don’t know but that I keep hoping and praying to find her soon.

As with so many things, I have to wonder what her perception is of all of this. It’s entirely innocent. The lack of pain her own voice makes it both easier and harder to hear her ask such things.

I didn’t think to tell her at the time, but I’m so thankful to all the women in our lives who love on my kids and show them that tenderness that doesn’t come so naturally to us guys. And I know how much my kids appreciate it, too, even if they don’t have the words to express it.

The Story of Stephanie’s Feelings for Brad

In celebration of my anniversary on May 14, an email sent to me from Stephanie dated March 1, 2004 – the day after we started dating.


You wrote in one (of the many) of your emails about how I’ve been thinking about this (that would be: us) for a year or possibly more. I wanted to just come out with it and let you know how everything happened. This is more or less a synopsis, because it would be way too long for all of the details.

Hopefully you don’t think I’m a loser, but I wrote the entire thing down as a third-person story. It just made me happy to write it that way.

Enjoy the educational reading,
S. :)

Once upon a time, in a land not too far away, there lived a young lady named Stephanie. Stephanie was your average girl-next-door, who was content to work at her church and spend time with her friends. Among those friends there existed a college student named, Brad. Stephanie didn’t know Brad all that well, but every once and a while their social circles would cross and she would have an opportunity to spend time with him. She looked forward to those encounters because she always found herself in good conversation with Brad.

Years passed. The college student graduated. Stephanie was now going to a different church – one where many people her age surrounded her. That church was not so far from where Brad lived and he also started attending. Their social circles crossed more frequently. Stephanie was able to talk with Brad at a local restaurant after church, and she always looked for him there. She knew there would be quality conversation, lots of laughs and many good times when he was present.

Then God gave Brad the opportunity of a lifetime at a place called FFI. That was a land, which was far, far away and Brad left for several months. Stephanie missed her friend very much, but wasn’t quite sure why she was feeling so sad. She knew he would be returning home eventually, but she missed looking for him at church. She was disappointed with her time at the local restaurant. There were many conversations, some laughs and okay times, but it wasn’t the same.

…But then Brad began sending out messages to his friends and family, telling about all God was teaching him at FFI. Stephanie also received those letters and read them over and over again. Some letters made her smile, some made her laugh, and some made her cry because she was rejoicing in what Brad was learning. Each letter was like a glimpse into his life, his heart, and his mind. Stephanie came to better know and appreciate the person that Brad was. She began to realize that he was a quality individual, unlike any she currently knew. Stephanie found herself thinking of Brad and apparently she spoke of him often – too often, because her roommate, Rebecca, was tired of listening about him (Stephanie knows this because Rebecca later told her).

Time continued to pass and letters continued to come. It was late in October when one letter in particular came and impacted Stephanie so greatly, that she could not even speak after reading it. That is when she realized that something had changed. It scared her. She wasn’t ready to go down that road again. She wasn’t sure what she was feeling, but she knew that her heart had changed for Brad. She began thinking about all the things he had written and what an impact they had made. She started thinking back to things that happened over the summer. Then she went further back and remembered things that had happened while he was in college. Then she sat down in shock and amazement, because she realized that all along it had been him.

Not knowing what to do with this new revelation, she began to pray. She knew that if left to her own control, she would just make a mess out of things. She also knew that God had a plan for her life and that because He is sovereign, He would not make a mess. She began seeking God to know what to do. She didn’t tell anyone at first, because she wasn’t sure where her feelings were going. She knew that Brad’s time at FFI had been the turning point in her awareness of how she felt about him. Still, she wasn’t sure of how to proceed. This lasted until Brad (finally) returned home.

Stephanie was now nervous and awkward around Brad. She didn’t know how to act. Stephanie knows that she wears her emotions on her sleeve and that she can’t hide how she’s feeling. She didn’t want him to know yet. She needed time to sort things out. She didn’t know what God wanted her to do.

Stephanie invited Brad to a party she was having at her house. She was overjoyed at his attendance there and she once again had an evening of quality conversation, lots of laughs and many good times. It was after this party that Stephanie went public about her feelings for Brad. She told only her closest friends so they might be praying for her. Christmas turned to New Year’s and Stephanie was then invited to Brad’s party. She was so nervous that she could barely speak to anyone in attendance (plus she didn’t know anyone there besides Brad). She left the party early, but not before she made a new friend named, Tim. She liked Tim from the moment she met him and within fifteen minutes thought, “This is a quality guy.”

Stephanie, Rebecca, Tim and Brad began spending a lot of time together. They went out to eat, they played games of skill, they watched movies, and became very close. Stephanie looked forward to their times together. She felt safe. She felt she could be open. She felt like she could be herself, because she didn’t fear judgment from her friends. This continued for several months and Stephanie began to thank God daily for the blessing of her friends.

Then, after the best week ever, Stephanie and Brad were finally able to talk about what was going on. This was some scary, big stuff, and they’re working through it to figure out what to do. The best part of Stephanie and Brad is that they both care more about what God wants than what they want. Because of this, they know that He is going to work all of it out, and that everything is going to be okay. They are not afraid. They are taking God at His word, and they trust and have faith in Him. It’s exciting times and it’s scary times, but they know that no matter what happens, there will always be good times.


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.


I’ve been playing out this scene in my mind. Many of you might know it. You walk into your favorite restaurant — or maybe an all-too-expensive restaurant with strange menu items you’ve never heard of — and your hand is intertwined with that of the one you love. Your hearts are even more intertwined and your faces beam. You barely make it to the maître d’ before you blurt out, “It’s our anniversary!” just as if the entire world should care. The response is polite, though usually lacking the same enthusiasm, but it’s enough. There’s enough thrill in your present company that just saying it out loud is all the excitement you need. This person married me, you think in bewilderment and utter ecstasy.

It doesn’t matter what happens from there. They might give you free dessert or a goofy song. But the person across the table is all that matters. The time goes too quickly, and the conversation is perfect, even though it’s about laundry day and the big project and the kids who you rightfully ran away from for the night. It ends too quickly, just the way everything does. But it’s wonderful.

I have two questions after that – one for me and one for you.

What happens tomorrow when I say “It’s my anniversary” and there’s no wife by my side?

“Congratulations? Sir?”

Sure! Why not, right? I still got married. And marriage is a beautiful thing God designed. Regardless of the fact that it’s in my past, I can celebrate it and the growth it has brought me.

Your turn. How do you celebrate your anniversary? Are you making your marriage something to cherish? And, married or not, are you making your relationship with God something to cherish? How do you celebrate that? (I ask that of myself, as well.)