Who is this?

After several months, I finally called Sprint and had them turn Jana’s phone number off. I still have her phone…paid the monthly payment just because I couldn’t bring myself to turn it back in to them. I hold on to it just like all the rest of her things…not really sure what I’m going to…

Senior Night

Standing in line, Allyson and I waited for her turn to walk down the track in front of the stands. It’s senior night and she is being recognized for her participation in cross country. The announcer read each child’s information as they walked along, arm in arm with each parent. Favorite memory, future plans, and…

Yet…I will Celebrate in the Lord!

Praise Him! First, and most importantly, I will praise Jesus for dying for me, giving life, and taking the punishment I deserved so that eternal life is secured! There will be a wonderful reunion, one day, and that is because of Jesus! Praise Him for the years I had with Jana. Every night I thank…

Darkest Night

Jana died. She has died… The combination of these two words was, arguably, the worst two words one could have put together. I felt this brief sentence to my very core. Days, months, and, now, a year, I have considered these two words and what they mean. I still do not fully understand… And if…

Thirteen Days

There are moments that sear into our memory throughout the course of life. Some wonderful, some devastating. We remember the place, time, smells, feels, and any other various stimuli from the experience at that particular second in time. For me, starting on July 26th, 2019, I had one of these moments after another as Jana…

Still Here

Jana, I meant what I said. I told you that I would love you, care for you, and be by your side through sickness and in health. I meant it… So many times, this last year, I have sat on this couch, with the tablet in my lap, crying as I typed. Today is no…

Last First

Today marks 11 months since Jana died. Her pain was short with a wonderful landing in the arms of Jesus. My road has been painful, troubled, and full of struggles. Although, the path has grown more manageable as the days and weeks have passed. It has been a course full of “firsts.” When I reflect…

Opposing Thoughts

The dating widower… Man, so many layers of various emotions to work through. But, let me say, it is a strengthening, encouraging, sorrowful, and beautiful process all at the same time! I have followed a clear process over the last 6 months. The first 5 months were all about me…working through the throws of intense…

Workings of Love

Where does the desire to be in relationship come from? What is it, within us, that drives us to connect deeply with another person? Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.” Genesis 2:18 God’s design speaks to our desires….

The Normal Sets In

We moved into the house we bought in 2009. Once everything was moved in and arranged, we began “settled” in to the new living situation. It didn’t take long, and soon it felt like we had “always” been there. A similar feeling is after children are born. In quick fashion, it feels as if they…

Memories of a Mother

It’s the opening chords of a song, the smell of her shampoo, or the glimpse of one of the kids in her favorite sweatshirt…these are the things that draw me close to her memory. In an instant I’m standing at that altar in Springfield, Illinois on a warm July day in 1998. I’m standing in…

Hope in the Desert

Dry, barren, unbearably hot, and there is nothing as far as the eye can see. Movement feels impossible…the weight is more than one can carry. Looking across the dusty horizon, it is apparent that there is no relief in any direction…no green grass, no bubbling fountain, nothing to quench or alleviate this miserable state. God,…

Standing in the Gate

Walls are something that people put up to keep others out. Emotionally speaking, these walls are placed for different reasons. Sometimes the walls are there because of past hurts and an individual defends themselves from what’s outside… Other people put up walls, too…but the barrier is there to prevent the person inside from getting out…

Emotional Couplets

Storm season is upon us in the Midwest. We’re familiar with watching the radar and listening for radio updates when it comes to severe weather. One way to determine a potential tornado configuration on the radar is to note the presence of a “couplet.” This feature on Doppler shows two completely different high velocity wind…

The Song is Beautiful.

When did the song begin? I don’t really know…until after it had been playing for awhile. Then, one day, I realized…this is my song. The music rose and fell, the tempo followed life… It was beautiful, mesmerizing, and the notes were put together in such a way that they touched my heart like nothing ever…

Lovely Trails

I love life. This breath, that God has given, represents His purposes and my joy. I am here for His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). The works of our loving Father culminate in His glorious will being accomplished. This fact can leave my life quite messy, and, at other times, exhilaratingly beautiful. I find myself, now,…

8 Months – Life Learning

Last night I had trouble sleeping. A mix of topics floating through my head kept me flitting from idea to idea…keeping sleep at bay. Then I thought about the date. I noticed is was now the 7th. The day, 8 months ago, Jana died. I still vividly remember, and can walk through the hours, and…

Am I Done?

I have, over the years, enjoyed running. For me, a run starts out with a bit of pain as the muscles, lungs, and various ligaments begin their work. After putting forth the effort for several minutes, the pain begins to diminish, although never completely go away. Eventually a joy in the exercise takes over in…

A Different Mess

I know what I want. I know the wonderful qualities that exist between two people who love each other. I know how to love, how to give, and how to hold another close. I know that God can lead me to that particular person… But, I have no idea how to get there. Dating is…

Save Me From Grief

My wife was diagnosed, began treatment, and died in 13 days. We didn’t see it coming, had no clue she was sick, and thought she would “beat” her illness. My pain began last summer…others are walking a similar path now. Jana had Leukemia. It was purely specific to her, a cancer in her blood. Not…

“Wanna Go Out for Coffee?”

Grief changes life. My world was put on hold. I called in sick…for about 6 months. The pieces of my life that I have managed to pull back together, with the Lord’s help, look kind of normal now. My routines are falling into place, my mind is not lost in a fog, and I am…

A Note on Happy

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, happiness is not. It is not “happy” that I strive for, it’s the joy of the Lord! Happy is my emotion that rises and falls as life, and my own decision-making, dictates. This truth is the landscape for my ever-changing mood. Recently, I have had the great opportunity…

From Night to Day

Laying in my small bed on the submarine, hundreds of feet under water, I would listen to Van Morrison or Garth Brooks on my headphones and dream of the time I would fall in love. The dreams were great and the anticipation of my forever person was strong. As an early twenty-something, the world was…

Seven Months

Various degrees of hope exists. There is an eternal hope, which makes all this bearable, in Jesus. Little “hope-lets” exist along the way, too. Simple things that let you know it’s not all bad. Bruce Springsteen talks about glory days and how they pass you by in “the wink of a young girl’s eye.” It’s…

Not Here

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep….

Importance of the Beginning

I have reflected often on our early days of dating and marriage. In a relationship, those memories and moments are almost sacred to the couple. It is the beginning of a lifelong commitment and love. My personal memories are no different…the structure we built, with Christ as our foundation, was constructed with these early, cherished…

Across the Miles

After the mission trip, we decided to officially date. Living several hours apart made traditional courting a difficult task. We quickly began to use the phone more than email, and that was in the days of “long distance” charges. We had some bills! We began planning times and places to get together. Our first date…

A Special Night

I was standing in line waiting behind my church’s youth group members. We were going to receive the name and address for a member of the youth group in the Living Faith church, close to Springfield, Illinois, which is where our youth mission trip was headed. The name was given to us to “pen pal”…

Moments

Wow…I see how she looks at me. After reviewing some videos that were taken of us, I watched her closely…watched the way she looked at me. She studied my face, enjoyed our conversation, and responded with joy to our interaction. I see now what, in some ways, I did not see before… I could be…

I’m Boring Again!

I am becoming wallpaper. Slowly blending back into the fabric of life. My life, my loss, my grief…all giving way to normal, everyday stuff. This “everyday Joe” is where I started, and where I will take my place once again. This is what we all wanted to begin with, isn’t it? Friends and family all…

Vicissitudes

Rising on a tide of hope! I can clearly point to aspects of my life that would help this uplifting of my spirit. I suppose that is life, right? Things go well and things can go not-so-well. And when multiple areas of life seems to swell towards the positive, all at once, it’s kind of…

Braided Thoughts

Let’s try to divide some thoughts. There is one that I can no longer have…Jana. This is thought “A.” Thought “B” regards the fact that there are things in life that are still possible. Things like companionship, closeness, warmth of another, and love. The basis of the two thoughts are: what is no longer possible…

The Tree Out Front

Can I tell of my sadness…yet again? Have I made the point clear? Why is it that when I sit to write my thoughts it is only discussions of loss that flow from my mind. I’m not “ok.” Oh, I want to be there! I long to feel normal and whole. But, I am not…I’m…

Grieving? Throw the Clock Out.

I’m in pain! When will it stop? In one form or another, the question of “when” comes up. When will I feel better? When will this intense hurt go away? When will I feel normal again…? I started looking for published grief timelines almost right away. I knew I couldn’t live forever under the soul-crushing…

An Open Letter to Man

Man, love your wife. Ok, I can already hear your wheels turning… “I do!” “She knows that I love her.” “Why are you suggesting that I don’t?” Listen to me, you can love her more. Don’t be so arrogant as to believe that you love her as much as humanly possible. That thinking automatically says…

Graduation.

We often just talked. Maybe just before dinner, after our day of work, or right after the family had sat down to eat together, we may have relaxed in the living room and visited on the couch. The rattle and clink of pans and silverware were heard from the kitchen as the kids performed their…

Warmth? Is That You?

A box of individual servings of almond butter. A blanket folded and placed on the chair. An adapter for the outlet used to charge a laptop. I know exactly what she left and how she left it. There are not many of these things remaining…items that are still in the exact spot that she placed…

A Photo

Each day is another step toward accepting the horror of my experience. How can one “accept” their worst nightmare? Not sure, but, I am slowly moving in that direction. At times, I get this weird feeling like I just realized that Jana died. Then, for an instant, I want to scream. I imagine that I…

My World is Warped

Everything that happens in my life is measured against a “feeling” chart. I ask myself how I am feeling about this holiday or that memory. “How are you doing?” Still a great question… I’m tired of the question, but it still seems appropriate. I’m still walking in, what feels like, a fog. I find myself…

Bouts of ’Really’ Low

Like waves the grief comes, they wash over me…and, sometimes, it seems they are just pounding me down. Down to lows that I have never experienced thus far in my life. It’s a little scary, and very uncomfortable. While in the US Navy, onboard the nuclear submarine USS Portsmouth, we visited many places around the…

Joy in the Mourning

I am emotionally skipping across the bottom… So, I found it fitting to write about joy! Why not? Count your many blessings, name them one by one… Even in the darkness of my grief and confusion with life, there are things to find joy in. Here are a few… Family and Friends. I constantly find…

Wake of the Storm

How does one go about re-setting life goals? When our tentative, at best, plan of the future gets erased, how is a new set of dreams adopted? Like after a tornado hits a city block, I’m looking around at the wreckage of what was our dreams, and trying to pick out the things that are…

Finish the Race

Since Jana died, I have thought a lot about what happens after a person’s life is over on earth. I have thought about what she experienced, what it may have looked like, and how she made that transition directly into Jesus’ care. The fact that my best friend made this journey gives me encouragement for…

All Aboard!

My steam engine of grief, which always seems completely filled with fuel, continues to take me along the highs and lows of this journey. As I approach significant milestones, it seems the grief begins to “ramp up” prior to the date. The engine goes into overdrive and picks up speed. Six months without Jana was…

“Why” is Too Complicated

One of the biggest moments of my hobby/interest life occurred this week. The Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. I have been watching, rooting, and hopeful for many years, and this week I was able to enjoy the pinnacle of the 2019 NFL season with my team. But…Jana is not here. This is my…

No More Sneezes

Laverne, one of our two new cats, was inching her way from my bed onto the nightstand where all of the stuff from Jana’s funeral sits. I have not gone through those cards, the sign-in book, or letters since the funeral. I am so appreciative of the things that people gave and did for us,…

Lovely Decisions

What prompts me to whisper, “Good night,” to her empty space in my bed each night? Why do I bury my face in one of her t-shirts and try to catch her scent one more time? What is it that makes me cry when somebody lets me know how much they miss her? Love. We’re…

Give Again

Serving. I have suggested that a sign of moving out of grief is when one begins to think more of others. Grief is consuming and very self-oriented. Grief gets us back to a place emotionally where we can interact with our world again. Now, my interest in serving others is taking up more of my…

Enough

Indifference and Anger. Lately, the emotions that stem from anger are more common in my life. Frustration, indifference, negativity, low self-regard, and a short-temper all originate from anger over my realized loss and potential loss. Naturally, the anger may be traced back to a fear, and then back even further to a lack of faith….

Getting Dizzy

Missing someone. I had a good friend ask me, yesterday, what I miss most about Jana. Man, what a hard question! Of course, there are so many attributes and characteristics that I miss. Everything that made up her…I guess that’s what I miss! I loved the question. It takes a long time to adjust from…

Praise for Life

Life is the feeling you get when your car begins to slide on ice and you lose control. There’s no stopping it, you have enough time to get a pit in your stomach, and anything can happen. Either I need to change my view of who’s in control or I need to get used to…

Five Surprising Areas of Struggle

Five surprising areas of struggle for the widow/widower in the first 6 months. These are just a few of the struggles of widowhood that I have encountered. Many others that I have talked to have identified some of these same issues. This post is to encourage the widow/widower…you’re not alone! Your feelings are normal. Or,…

An Actual Laugh?

Yesterday, I recalled a memory of Jana that made me…laugh. It was a humorous memory, so laughing was appropriate, but the fact that I laughed caught me by surprise. I liked that. When I set out to work hard on my grief, I knew I would see signposts of progress along the way. One of…

Good and Perfect Gifts

Let me be clear, I deserve nothing. There is nothing that I have done, or that is inherently special about me that God should be compelled to give me anything. There is nothing that I have gone through that would warrant God’s kindness to me. But, in His grace, He chooses to give good things…

Anything Can Happen

“It could happen.” This was a thought that I held loosely, almost with the same grip that I held on to World War III. Yeah, anything can happen but, it won’t. Then, the whole concept was shattered when…it did. I guess I played the odds. Odds were, my wife and I would live happily for…

The Tide has Shifted

What about the stuff that hurts? When I come up against a challenge, and I know it’s going to bring pain…what do I do? How shall I respond when I know my action will bring both pain and progress? This line of questioning has been the basis of much of my grief work. Every decision,…

Challenge of Living

The challenge, each day, is to live life. The grief path has been a series of challenges, which I have done my best to face head-on. Most of these hurdles have been natural and progressive in nature. Basically, I tackle the next thing that comes up. I will have more of these, and I kind…

My Un-addressed Letters

“Jana, you would love this.” “Oh, Jana, let me tell you about that!” So many times, I have found myself wanting to share part of my life with her. I carefully write out my thoughts, fold the paper in thirds, place it in the envelope, put a stamp in the corner…but, it remains unsent. It…

Focus, Man!

“When will I meet somebody?” “Will I remarry someday?” “Can somebody actually love me?” “Is love possible…again?” In one form or another, these questions seem to swirl in my mind. Thoughts flit from one area to another, often creating more anxiety and questions than what I started with. So, I take a step back, examine…

Elusive Normal

Today marks five months since my beautiful wife went home to be with the Lord. Her memory draws me back in time. I often wish that I could live in the past somehow. Relive the days and years we spent together, I would start from the beginning and do it all over again… Living in…

High Places

My wedding ring is now next to Jana’s on, arguably, one of my most important possessions. This makes sense to me. It took time to get here, and a lot of processing, but now that they are together, in a place that I can see them at any time, it makes me happy. I need…

A Thousand Camels?

Then Job replied to the LORD: I know that you can do anything and no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, “Who is this who conceals my counsel with ignorance?” Surely I spoke about things I did not understand, things too wondrous for me to know. You said, “Listen now, and I will…

A Comfortable Friend Zone?

I have discovered a socialization place that is between group activities and dating. Maybe it’s called “friendship” or “friend-zone?” Basically, I enjoy visiting with single women (I have only had a couple of occasions to do so) without “dating.” This concept sounds very elementary, but in the grief journey it represents a major step. Much…

The Richness of Life

Another turn in life. Sarah is moving down to Republic to go to school. Can I handle all this? This was Sarah’s plan for many months. I was the one who tried to encourage Jana when thinking of losing her “baby” from the nest. Now, the time has come. One is perched on the edge,…

Time Obeys God

On the 8th, earthly-time went on leaving Jana behind on the 7th. Then, the days of August ended and, again, moved on without Jana. Now, the calendar will turn to the new year, and time is doing it’s best to shuffle this one significant life into the stack of eternity. Old Man Time will not…

Navigating into Uncharted Water

How about some practical thoughts on the grief-to-identity-to-love path? How does it happen? Well, I’m still figuring this out since my thoughts are relatively fresh on the subject. But, I want to share what I’m thinking…these thoughts are all a part of the journey! Note: Sharing my thoughts about the future possibilities of meeting somebody…

Love…Again?

Some, who have lost a spouse, realize quickly that they possess a deep desire to love another person intimately…again. Here is my experience with this concept, to date, and the areas of my life in which I am processing. First of all, the desire to remarry, find an intimate relationship, or date, is not an…

Prepared for…

Can I mention what many of us are asking? “What will 2020 bring?” If we knew now, what we will know on Christmas of 2020, would we even want to start the new year? Or, would we anxiously jump into January? Well, it doesn’t matter. You can’t tell the future…none of us can. So, buckle…

Joy in This Season

Have you ever noticed how happy the family is in a movie just before something happens to one of them? Maybe they show the family all extra-happy going to the beach or camping or whatever. Then, a tragic thing happens to one of the family members. Sometimes, that feels like our life…

Tricky Conversations

Lately, I have been having ongoing arguments with an individual that I will not name. It’s frustrating and, at most times, unfair. I heard that this type of negativity would pop up from time to time. It seems that no matter how I want to move forward in life, this person is not satisfied with…

Fish Out of Water

These days, I am thinking about getting out and meeting others, especially those in the widow/widower community. This comes with a lot of trouble… In the first place, I am wrestling with the idea. I have written about this, the problem crops up in guilt. I need to move past that feeling and not allow…

(Gray) Hair to Eternity

So surprising, so unthinkable… Now it’s the pictures that I have to remember. In the photos, right up until her last day, we never would have suspected the end of her life was imminent. Looking into our faces, considering the situations, remembering the conversations…pictures tell stories. They bring up the memories. Sometimes I can remember…

Permission to be Happy

Several months ago, near to the time that Jana died, my pastor imparted a bit of wisdom. He told me to allow myself to feel happy. I could understand what he said, but, lately, I am wrestling with the concept. Early on, I had no desire or capacity for feeling happy. Nothing reached past my…

“I Like Me”

Today I miss warming up next to Jana. Snuggling under a blanket, watching a movie, or visiting. It’s freezing cold outside and my heart feels like it’s matching the weather in temperature. My love is not here. I’m trying… I’m trying to make friends – and I have met some great people. I’m trying to…

Whose Am I?

Belonging… Who do I belong to? Earthly speaking, I belonged to Jana for 22 years, and she belonged to me. We were not our own. We cherished and gave ourselves to one another, just as we would have cared for our own bodies. A wife does not have the right over her own body, but…

Being Social

Had a few friends over yesterday to watch the Kansas City Chiefs football game. This was a step, an experiment, and, as it turned out, a real joy. In many social situations I have often been anxious in the group setting. Sometimes I feel that way in church, too. I have tried not to avoid…

Step by Step

Faith, grief, finances, relationships, business…everything in my life is a big jumble. It is incredibly hard to isolate any one area and think critically about it. I know I am pushing forward in all areas, but grief has occupied the center stage, taking most of my attention. I am doing the grief work that is…

Home

Jana knew that I loved her tremendously. She had no doubt that I cared for her and would be by her side no matter what life brought. I know she loved me in the same way, and it would have taken my death for her to leave my side. These days I am considering the…

Faithless Feelings

God, I’m struggling. My questions run deep, maybe deeper than I recognize or want to admit. After years of confessing, teaching, and believing your word, I find myself questioning You, Yourself, because of Your decisions. More than just “why?” The question is bigger, the wondering encompasses more than just a simple query of purpose. God,…

Come to Me

I find myself crumpled in the corner. I’m clutching things that hold immense value to me. Some of the items include vacation pictures of Jana, a sweater she wore on one of our many date nights, and her journal filled with notes of faith-filled wrestlings with God and His call on her life. My knuckles…

Signposts of Success

My walk through grief is continuous. Every so often, I see a signpost that informs me of my progress. Most frequently the message gets to me through something that I say in conversation. After speaking the words, I pause and think about what I have said and realize that I’ve taken some kind of step….

Sharing With a Jewel

I am thankful for the exciting, happy times that I have. It is wonderful to experience mountain top highs and genuine joys in life. Every good moment comes with it’s painful chaser…I can’t tell Jana about this. Every little thing, or big thing, is something that you want to share with the one you love….

Yeah, but…

What were our routines? What was the daily schedule… I suppose if I thought hard enough I could recall the day-to-day life that Jana and I held. It seems so far away now… I could sit and try to remember, but what will that do for me? Make me sad? Wish for the past? Get…

Take the Step

There is a big step before me. It’s a decision that I have made in the past. A thought that got ironed out in the general angst of young adulthood… The decision is whether or not to take a step forward and live. This step does not entail leaving my grief, abandoning my sorrow over…

In The Next Hour…

It’s about 6:30 pm where I sit. In about an hour and 20 minutes, it will have been three months since Jana breathed her last. What a difficult journey the last days and weeks have been. I have never felt the ways in which I have felt in the wake of her death. From the…

A Delicate Subject

Dear Friendly Reader, I want to write to you regarding a topic that I have not written of, but one that owns a bit of stock in my mind. Loneliness. But, specifically, loneliness in close relationship. From the day Jana died, thoughts of intense aloneness were almost unbearable. My person was no longer there. Reality…

The Dresser is Done

I finished packing up Jana’s stuff in my room tonight. There was one dresser left with jewelry, clothing, and various keepsakes. Everything gets put into large totes and taken downstairs until a later date. We will go through them at some point in the future and decide what to do with everything…not now. Surprisingly, I…

Good Night

The end of a busy day, The lights go out and I slip into bed. After fidgeting with the covers and getting comfortable, I look your way and whisper, “good night.” A moment I sit, patiently, quietly, Waiting for a sound, a response. My eyes strain in the dark Looking for you, hoping to hear….

Safe At Home

It’s about to snow for the first time this season. The first accumulating snow, the kind that makes driving difficult. The worries of family and friends getting home safe are just around the corner! When you’re waiting on a loved one to get home, nerves can get the best of you. Those worrisome thoughts creep…

Exactly as He Planned

Why do I have to remind myself that Jana has died? Every so often, I find myself, sometimes saying out loud, “She is gone.” Then I consider that fact and go positive or negative in my next thoughts… Negative thinking includes sorrow, anger, and almost a sense of panic…wanting to yell out loud or fall…

Worry, Work, and Feet

In marriage, their is a functional division of labor that occurs. Each person settles into their particular role within the family. Maybe certain chores are split up or activities get divided, but there are two to shoulder the burdens of life. When a partner is suddenly missing from the equation, the work falls to one….

The Grave

Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 Across the dirt mound were three containers holding the remnants…

Affliction – A Stand in Grace

I am in the middle of heavy troubles…now what do I do? Romans 5:1-5 CSB [1] Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. [2] We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice…

Yes, He Hears Us

While driving down the interstate, going to my GriefShare class, I see a giant, promise-filled rainbow over the hospital where Jana died. God shared this, provided this…for me tonight. God is about taking care of His children. His faithfulness endures forever! 2 Corinthians 1:4 CSBHe comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may…