365 Years per Day

Well, here it is. Don’t act surprised to find a new post here today. I’m not. What does surprise me is my apparent lack for words now that it comes to it. I even took the day off so that I could have time alone to be with my thoughts and contemplate my emotions, attempting to put them down in 10 point font.

What I recognize most is my seeming inability to cry. Why is that? Maybe because it’s been a year. Maybe it’s because I’m only closer to God now than I was then. Maybe it has to do with all the blessings I’ve received over the past year. Maybe God won’t let me stay in that place of sorrow and loneliness and anger.

But I feel like I should still cry and should still be able to cry. In a way, crying brings Stephanie close to me. And in a way, crying brings me close to God. It’s a reminder. And, for as hard as it feels to cry, it’s even harder to be able to cry. Or so it seems. It’s when I’m not trying — and least expect it — that I read something or see something or remember something. And my eyes drain.


And I find it hard to be sad. I really try. I miss Stephanie and I miss that part of me. I keep trying to transport myself to those days back then when I felt everything so deeply and when the thoughts just dripped from my fingers onto my keyboard. But while I have some good moments of crying hard, it’s usually hard not to be okay. It’s hard to forget how gracious God has been to me throughout all of this and throughout my life.

Every day for the past year has each felt like a year in and of itself, and yet the last year is just a blur. The days blend together better than fruit in a smoothie, and yesterday becomes the day we were still together. I’ve been saying so often that I don’t think the heart knows how to believe the loss of a loved one. It holds on forever. But it can still go on. And so I do, with or without a choice. I just wish I didn’t feel so old because of this.

I don’t have a choice because of God. Despite what came a year ago, He’s given me so much grace and so many reasons to feel blessed. Even today, as I sat alone to think and read and write, the pastors of my church came across my path — and they prayed for me. And it reminds me that God understands my sense of humor. I’m a dork and love a good pun. I call moments like that “puns of life” — what some people would call coincidence is more often God doing something really cool that makes me smile. It’s so completely random, and yet is not surprising at all in the economy of God.

So where does that leave me? I try to cry, and He makes me smile. I ache to hurt, but laugh for joy. I hate the past, excited for the future. I ask God the questions, and He tests me first. Where have I come in the past year? What have I made of my time? How have I grown and learned and made use of what God has given me, both good and bad? Those are the things I can’t stop pondering.

So much for not having anything to say.

I no longer hate “easier”

I still have a love-hate relationship with time, such as I began to have last year. As the days have marched forward over the past year, it certainly has gotten easier. The second time I tucked the kids in on my own was certainly easier than the first time. And the third time easier than the second. And so on.

Everyone told me that it would get easier with time, and I never doubted that. But I wanted them to be wrong. I didn’t want it to get easier because I was afraid that “easier” would mean the memories were fading or my love for her was diminishing. I wanted to hold tight to all those things. And as painful as it was, I never wanted to stop crying.

But I did. And it did get easier. But “easier” hasn’t been the negative thing I envisioned. Instead, I now find more meaning in those memories. The pain and tears, while good at the time, often served to only cloud my mind regarding great truths of those moments. Now, I feel like I can really truly take hold of those memories in a way that I couldn’t before. Sometimes I still cry. Other times, I laugh. And many times, I learn.

I still constantly worry that my memories will fade. But I’ve also noticed many times when a memory that felt lost suddenly returns to me because of a comment someone makes or a random circumstance that reminds me of something she said. And it restores my hope that I might not forget everything. And “time spent” is a great friend when “time ticking” is not.

And now we come to it

I feel like I’ve been waiting for this for 365 years rather than days, anticipating what it will be. The worst anniversary I could ever imagine is now upon me as October begins. 1. 3. 13. Though strangely related and all prime, what would otherwise be arbitrary numbers in any other scenario weigh infinitely heavy when they follow the seven letters representing the tenth month.

October 1, 2010 was Stephanie’s last birthday. God’s grace, once again, was in full force, as He put it in my mind to take that Friday off of work to spend the day with her – something I don’t think I did any year previously. It is a sobering thought to realize that at the time, I could never have imagined what would enter our lives just two days later.

Speaking of, that day is fast approaching when I can no longer say “a year ago, Stephanie and I…” And it will feel even sooner after that when I will be saying “two years ago” or “five years ago.” I fear the steady train into the future that will leave her standing at the station so far back on the horizon. I fear my memories will fade just as the miles fade our visibility.

On October 3, I’ll resort to thinking how that date in 2010 was the last day I was with her, talking to her. And I’m remembering that in the best way I can figure how, by having a bake sale in her honor. My coworkers especially knew Stephanie because of the treats she sent to work with me. I’m convinced she somehow found a way to bake into everything she made the pure joy she had from being in her kitchen, creating. And joy tastes absolutely wonderful! Dear friends of mine have also taken that idea and put together a cookbook of her/our favorite recipes, some created by her and others simply tweaked by her. Knowing that other people can have those recipes and continue to share some of her magic will make every morsel even sweeter.

I’ve also made the decision, once again, to experience the emotions as deeply as humanly possible. It might sound crazy to some, but it’s the only conclusion I can make. And to accomplish it, I plan to read each of my posts from a year ago as related to when those events happened. I want to remember what I was experiencing. I want to remember how God was at work. Remembering how my spirit broke is to remember how much He loves me and how deeply He sees me.

To put it concisely, I want to remember what God has done for me in 365 days.

What’s the Jewish word for “God the Nagger”?

It has been too long since I blogged here. Many of you have asked me if I am still blogging, or if the Internet is broken, or if I’ve suddenly become a very uninteresting person. Well, the answers are “haven’t been”, “no”, and “I hope not – you tell me.” The truth is, I’ve been a slacker. I’ve had many ideas come through my head that I should blog about, but I’ve let tiredness (i.e. laziness) get in the way.

God keeps calling me out, reminding me that I said I wanted to do this and that He wants me to do this. He certainly won’t just let it go. (Goodness, He sure can be persistent!) Believe it or not, He’s using many of you to remind me of that. And once again, I offer my thanks. You’re very kind and polite in the ways you all have asked. I hear you asking me with gentleness and kindness in your words.

But I also hear God in your questions nagging me: “Hey, remember that thing you thought that you wanted to share that you didn’t and you should’ve and I wanted you to? Well, you should still share that.”

So, here I am, hoping that I can maintain my discipline a little better and continue blogging before everyone gives up hope and stops checking for my words. I had one of those moments earlier today when I think yet again that nobody cares what I think or wants to hear what I have to say. But God turns the moment on its head, nearly scolding me for thinking it has anything to do with me. It’s all about Him and completely not about me. And as long as I’m tuning my fingers to Him, He’ll ensure that I’m only saying what He wants me to say, and He’ll make sure that people care what He has to say through me. And He’ll do it even if I don’t understand why He thinks it’s a good idea to use me for sharing His truth. I’m very human and very imperfect. But thankfully, that means it has to be all about Him since I’m a broken vessel.

Assuredly, He’ll keep nagging me. And I’ll thank Him for that, because this is what I want to do even though I’ve been a slacker about doing it for two months. I hope you’re all still willing to read. I hope that it blesses you all as much as it blesses me to share. And I hope that I do a better job writing more often. Thank you for the encouragement you’ve given me wishing for more blog posts.


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.

Six Months

Six months never felt so long.
Or so short.
As of Sunday, April 3 at 10:08pm, six months prior was the last time I talked to my wife.
The kids and I were all a year younger then. We’ve all started that next year of life sans Stephanie.

It’s essentially 180 days. And trust me when I say that it’s more about the number of days than the number of months. Actually, it’s even more accurately about the number of moments rather than the number of days, because that is what I’ve had to get through. I can’t think about a month. That’s much too large a time frame. I’m fortunate if I can figure out next week.

But, it’s amazing how much God can heal a heart in such a short amount of time. I don’t know how to explain it. But I do know that a few weeks ago, I very noticeably turned a corner with regard to my grief. Almost suddenly, I was more okay with things than I had ever been, though I had certainly been working up to that point. God has been so gracious and merciful to me in my struggling through this, allowing me the time and crazy emotions. And all of my family and friends and acquaintances and people reading this blog have been incredible support to me. It is thanks to the incredible love from everyone (God, especially) that I’ve come this far.

I spend a lot of my time thinking about my future. How does God want to continue to use this loss? In which direction does He want to point me? He continues to encourage me with stories from people of how He is using this for His good. I still stand by the fact that even though my life might not go the way I want, He is using this – and my life – for His glory. And that gives me more peace than anything this world could ever offer.

I absolutely hope to get married again. I want it for me and I want it for my kids. I’m not sure what that will look like or when that might happen. I’m doing my best to look to God for every step I make and every choice I have. I hope and pray He doesn’t make me wait too long, but waiting on Him is certainly better than going my own way with things. Plus, He’s gotten me this far and will get me as far as I need to go.

The kids are doing great. They’re both playing more and more with each other as Halle is getting older and able to communicate better. They are both so sweet and loving. We have many random cuddle moments throughout the day. And they both love life and love each other.

Me being the way I am, I like that April 3 was the first Sunday to be a “3rd” since Sunday, October 3. I know it’s probably strange, but I like being able to honor these dates at six months on the same days of the week as they originally happened. A weekday just has a different tone to it than a Sunday, so I’m thankful for the similar tone.

Before I know it, I’ll be talking about six years and exponentially more amazed at what has happened since. But, it will be one moment at a time that I get there. And, I think God delights in us taking one moment at a time. And boy, what I would give to be a delight to God.


My sweet, spunky, fireball of a little girl turns two years old today. Happy birthday, Halle Charis.

You are so much like your mommy, and it’s so wonderful to see your personality coming out more with each day. I’m so thankful to God that I got to have a daughter after having a son, and I’m even more glad that Mommy got that, too. She was so hopeful that you would be a girl; and you are all girl just like Mommy. You already love shoes and clothes, and Brady assures me that your favorite color is pink because “you a gerl, Ha-yee.”

Just like Mommy, you’re able to light up a room with your smile and personality and make people happy just because you’re around. You are so good at making people laugh in the most unexpected ways. And you always have your little projects, and do not like people to get in your way of finishing those projects. I have no doubt you’re going to use that about yourself just like Mommy did.

I love the way you know just what you want, even if it does result in you yelling at me when I don’t get it for you. You just want things to be efficient and you always know a better way for things to get done.

You’re adorable and such a joy in everyone’s lives, and Mommy would be so happy for all the ways you’re so like her. As much as I wish she had more time with you, I’m so thankful for the 18 months of your life that she did get to spend with you. Your middle name means “grace” and it was Mommy’s favorite thing about God. It was His grace that gave you to Mommy. After three miscarriages, we weren’t sure we’d ever get to have another baby, and it’s clear that you are the exact child God wanted us to have.

We love you so much, and I can’t wait to continue watching you grow (as a person, at least, since you don’t exactly grow too much physically, my little peanut). I know you’ll make me and Mommy so proud.

I love you, Sugar.


I just.



She’s gone.

And I’m pretty sure I never will. Fifty years from now, when I’m old and gray with grandchildren, and maybe even a wife, I’ll still find disbelief in this fact of my existence.

It’s one of those stories your grandchildren hear for the first time and they find themselves in deep shock. “Did you know Grandpa was married to someone else before Grandma?”

It’s been a while since I’ve given an update. I’ll give more details later, but I’m actually doing quite well. Even still, this disbelief is heavier than lead.

I keep saying that for as much as I believe in God more and believe in His goodness and grace and mercy and promises more, I disbelieve this situation more. It’s almost as if it’s even harder to believe, the more I believe God.

And He is so good to me, and to everyone. And I can’t wait to see how He used this to change me for His glory.

An Odd Longing

It’s actually an odd thing to want. For some reason, I find myself longing to be back in the hospital more often than any other point in my marriage. I can only guess that I’m too much of a realist to imagine earlier times. My time in the hospital isn’t all that different of a reality than now.

But I think back to that time every few days. I remember how comfortable I got there, as if it were a 10-day sleepover. I can’t imagine what it must be like for others who endure much longer battles. I spent every night either on a couch in the waiting room or in a chair next to Stephanie’s bed.

I began to know the nurses, and I’m sad that I don’t get to see them any more. They were so wonderful, taking care not only of Stephanie, but of me and my entire family. How many times have they done the same for others? I wish I could have thanked them more while I was there.

I learned how to read all the monitors. I was so proud of her for breathing “above the machine” – she took more breaths than the machine made sure she took. And then she stopped doing that at the same time God stopped telling me to “just wait” and I knew she was gone, even if her death certificate says it was two days later. I could read the EKG and knew when she was having seizures. I remember sliding up next to her during those times, holding her hand and touching her face, trying to calm her down. I can still hear myself saying, “Oh, honey. You gotta stop.”

How many nights did I beg her to fight? How many times did I remind her that she refused God to take her once before and needed to do it again? How many hours did I spend holding her hand and stroking her hair?

I know it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense because she wasn’t talking to me at all, but I miss my time with her in the hospital. What part of that longing is because of the hope I still had that she might be okay? I miss spending every moment with her, even if she wasn’t exactly “with” me during those moments.


Happy 4th Birthday, Brady Chase!

You are such an amazing little boy, Sweetheart, and this day is always a special day to your mommy and I. Ever since Mommy was a little girl, all she wanted was to be a wife and a mommy. And ever since I was a little boy, I only wanted to be a husband and a daddy. We anxiously awaited your arrival all our lives. When you came, you brought those dreams into our lives, and you didn’t come a minute too soon.

You make me so proud every day. You are considerate and always saying “please” and “thank you” and you love people so much. Any time someone is sad, you are the first one there to give sweet cuddles and tell them it will be okay. You don’t know it now, but you have strength and wisdom well beyond your four years.

I love the way you care about Halle and are so often trying to help her or help out with her. You’re an incredible big brother to her. It’s no wonder why she loves you so much and looks up to you and imitates you. I know the two of you will have such a strong relationship throughout your entire lives.

You are not only tender, but also strong, and I pray that you never lose that about yourself. I am so proud that you carry my name (plus a “y”), and I hope that you will always chase after God all of your life.

Mommy and I love you so very much. I can’t wait to see how you grow each and every year. Happy Birthday, Bean!