Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful and Grateful.......

I wanted to post what I am thankful for this year.  There is so much in my life to be thankful and appreciative of.  I want to hopefully give those of you who might read this today an opportunity to stop and take stock of how truly blessed you are no matter the circumstances in your life.  Regardless of the place we find ourselves in life and the circumstances surrounding us, I guarantee that if you take a moment you will find there are amazing blessings in your life from God to stop and be thankful for.

I have been blessed with far more than I deserve simply by the fact I was born in America.  I have freedom, food, shelter, a job, and so much more because I was blessed enough to be born where I was.  I have an amazing wife who has stuck by me through thick and thin no matter the circumstances.  I am the father of four amazing boys even though I only have two here, with the other two in Heaven. 

I am blessed with amazing parents, sisters, in-laws, and a huge extended family that have played huge factors in who I am today.  I have a group of friends who are second to none and have walked with our family through our darkest days.  I have a church family and pastors from two different churches who have also stood with our family through it all as well.

The biggest thing I am thankful for this Thanksgiving day is the fact that I have a Savior who died for me so that I might live.  He took the punishment I so justly deserved and took it upon himself, so that I could stand before Almighty God washed clean of the sin I could have never wash away on my own.  It is because of the act of the cross, the shedding of Christ's innocent blood, his death, and most of all his resurrection that I am able to stand redeemed and clean.  This is what I am most thankful for.

My hope for everyone who might read this is that each of you will realize that no matter your circumstances there is so much we can thank God for.  Even in the midst of our family losing two of our boys I am able to thank God for his saving grace.  He has never left my family or I, and has continued to carry each of us through our darkest and deepest valleys.  I hope that each person who reads this will find that same peace, comfort, and joy.  There is a hope for each and everyone of us if we will only reach out and accept it. 

Happy Thanksgiving to each and everyone one of you!  I will leave you with this passage from Philippians that captures what I am most thankful for.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11

Saturday, November 16, 2013

More Than We Can Handle...

I’m sitting here in Maui with Jess and the boys and finally have some time to actually put some thoughts to paper so to speak that I have had on my heart for awhile.  On November 19th it will be what would have been Hayes’ 2nd birthday.  We are going to take Noah and Drew into Lahaina that night and have “Hula Pie” at Kimos to celebrate.  It makes me happy that the boys look forward to celebrating their brothers even though they are not with us, but instead waiting for us in heaven. 

While this trip is amazing and I am enjoying spending almost 2 weeks with my beautiful wife and amazing boys, I can’t help but think about what it would be like if Jack and Hayes were here to enjoy it with us.  There is a huge part of me that always thinks about that no matter what it is we are doing, which I think is something any parent who has lost a child does.  I have to say the fact that I realize Jack and Hayes are not here with us and we don’t get to share these experiences with them, makes me appreciate doing this with Noah and Drew all the more. 

This post is not about our vacation or missing Jack and Hayes, but is instead about something more that has been on my heart for awhile but have not had the time to get out.  Bear with me as I go through this and please read till the end, because I will tie this all together as I get there.  I read a blog from a pastor a couple of months ago that someone posted a link to on Facebook.  This blog hit on something that I have thought long and hard about and completely agree with.  I wish I could find the link to this blog to credit the author, but I have not been able to so I will summarize what it was he was getting at. 

The main idea of this pastor’s post was raising the fact of the idea that God “doesn’t give us more than we can handle” is not an actual biblical statement.   Many Christians and non-Christians alike tend to speak that statement like it was an actual verse in the Bible when it actually isn’t.  This is something that I would have to admit I have been guilty of thinking if not actually saying in the past.  The simple truth is that is not what the Bible says.  

I want to quote the actual verse that gets cited when this statement is made.  It’s found in 1st Corinthians 10:13.
“No temptation has overtaken you except  such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

                This verse does clearly state that God has provided for us an escape for any temptation we might face, but that is different than God giving us more than we can bear.  This verse when taken in the context of the whole chapter is clearly talking about the fact there is no temptation to sin that we will ever face that is unique and something that we cannot over come through Christ.  There is always the opportunity to turn from the temptation because God has already provided a way of escape.  It is up to us to take that escape route when those times come.

                I would have to argue that this verse does not mean that every situation and circumstance we are faced with in this life is going to be one that has an escape route built in.  When we are faced with the opportunity to sin, there is always an option to turn from it and make the right choice because that escape route is always there.  We don’t have to sin, but when we are faced with circumstances that are beyond our control there isn’t always a way to escape those moments.  

                My big idea here is that when moments come in our lives that are completely out of our control there isn’t always a way to get out of them, but there is a greater option.  I can tell you from our experience having two out of four of your children die unexpectedly from things that shouldn’t have killed them; there isn’t any way to escape that pain.  Losing your husband or wife too soon when you had plans for your future is not something you can find a way around.  A child who loses their parent when they are too young, a person who is diagnosed with a terminal disease, or a country that experiences a natural disaster that kills tens of thousands of people to name just a few are circumstances that don’t offer a way to escape that kind of pain and suffering.  

                That verse in 1st Corinthians is not talking about these situations.   That is not to say it doesn’t still point us in the right direction.  The question that is asked in these moments tends to be “where is God”?  That question when fully explored actually leads us to the answer, and ultimately the way through these life altering moments in life.  

                I would hold to the truth that while there isn’t a way to escape the pain of losing a child or any earth shattering moment in our lives, there is a way to come through them.  I can say from my own experience of losing Jack and Hayes there has been a way through the pain and sorrow that followed.  Temptation we can escape from, but pain we must walk through no matter how hard we try to escape it.

God is not the author of pain and sorrow, but is instead the author of life.  This post is meant for anyone God would have to read it, but in my heart I am speaking to those of you who find yourself at that point in life where you have nowhere to turn and are wondering what to do.  While it sounds nice to say God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, the practical application of that has more to it.  If you want to find peace and comfort don’t look for the way out, but instead look to author of life who went to the cross for you.  Jesus asked the Father if there was a way to avoid the cross, but went to it anyways because there was no way to reconcile us to Him without dying on it.  

That is the pattern that is laid out for us in these moments.  Even though we want to avoid the pain of these moments there is a way.  If you will grab hold of Christ and keep your eyes on Him you will find that He will hold you up through it.  That doesn’t mean it won’t hurt, but it does mean that Christ will be right next to you holding you when there seems to be no way.  While many times in life there isn’t a way to avoid pain, God uses those moments to draw us to Him because that is the only way.  

There are many who want to avoid the pain and blame God for it, but I would encourage you to seek Christ instead.  The only way my family is still intact after losing Jack and Hayes is because we turned to Christ and allowed Him to carry us through.  That is not a pat on our back to say we are special, but instead a testimony to the power of Christ and the fact He is there to carry you through no matter the circumstances.  You only need to ask Him…

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  

Hebrews 12:1-2  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Long Road...

It has been quite awhile since I have posted anything due to the business of summer, but I have found myself with quite a few things on my heart that I would like to share.  My goal with this blog is not to just post anything and everything in relation to our losses of Jack and Hayes.  My goal is to post things that have relevance and meaning to all, rather than saying I had a bad day today and I really miss my boys.  I miss my boys everyday and I don't think me blogging that fact is really doing anyone any good, and would frankly get old to have me saying it all the time. :)  When I have something I feel has some substance to it and might be helpful, that is when I blog. 

We just recently marked the 1st anniversary of Hayes' passing just last week on Aug 21st.  I have to admit that this anniversary hit me harder emotionally than the two anniversary's of Jack's we have marked so far since his passing.  This isn't because I miss Hayes anymore than I do Jack, but rather I think it has had more to do with the fact I was able to grieve Jack's passing more in the beginning that I was Hayes'. 

When I say I was able to grieve Jack's passing more in the beginning, it was because I didn't have anything else pulling at my heart and emotions beyond Jack and all that went with his passing.  When Hayes died last year I can honestly say we weren't at a point that we were done grieving Jack, and then to throw the loss of another child on top of the first was overwhelming.  What I found I did in the wake of Hayes' death was to grieve him, but I don't necessarily think I was able to fully process all that went with the fact that he was gone in addition to Jack.

What any parent that has lost a child can tell you is that all that goes into the grief of it takes not only an emotional toll, but a physical and mental toll as well.  When you lose a second child that toll goes to a whole new and different level.  There were many areas where I felt that we were able to process it better because we had gone through it before, and we knew what to expect to a certain extent.  There were other areas though where I felt like I personally did not fully wrap myself around the fact we were going through this again.  That is not to say that I didn't grieve or realize that Hayes had died, but only that I was able to move forward in certain ways faster than I did with Jack.  An example would be the fog that I felt like we were in when Jack died was not as thick and long lasting as when Hayes died.

All this to say, is that I have found with this first anniversary of Hayes' death is that the emotional toll has been much higher.  That not only goes for me, but also my wife and our oldest son who had his first real emotional breakdown since Hayes' passing about a week before the 1st anniversary of his death.  All of this is because this process is ongoing for both boys, and will continue to for a long time to come I am sure.

The purpose of this post is two fold today.  The first purpose is for those of you who might read this and have not experienced this kind of loss, and aren't sure what you should do when someone around you does experience a tragic loss in their family.  My family has been incredibly blessed to have been surrounded by many friends, family, and many individuals we had never even met who came around us and have walked with us down this road.  It has been that love and support that has helped carry us through some of the deepest and darkest moments we have experienced.

What took me down the road of writing this post is in hearing in recent days of a family, that I don't really know, but who just experienced the loss of the husband and father of this family.  He was a young man who died unexpectedly and leaves behind a wife and two young children.  This loss breaks my heart because I know it is going to be hard road they have to walk. 

My encouragement for any of you that may have someone go through a horrific loss like this, regardless if it's unexpected or not, is to come around them with love, support, and most of all prayer.  Everyone grieves differently, but what I can tell you is that when you experience these kinds of losses it is a long road.  Even when someone may seem like they are doing fine and have moved forward, I can tell you the extreme hole left behind in the wake of their love one's death is ever present.  Continue to come around these families with love and support even as it seems in your mind enough time has gone by for their grief.  I can personally attest to the fact that there are bad days even a couple of years down the road.  Pray for these families continually as they come across the path of your life.

I do want to make it clear in that my family has been blessed beyond measure to have the kind of friends and family around us who have, and continue too, come around us in love and support.  This is not pointed at anyone in our circle of friends and family at all in relation to our losses, but instead for those of you who may have families in their circle of friends who experience an extreme loss.  I could not ask for a better group of friends and family than what we have been blessed, and I hope you all know who you are! :)

The one thing I always want to take any of my post and thoughts back too is the fact that my family has only been able to walk this road the way we have because of the hope we have in Christ.  I have peace because of the fact that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this separation in our family is only temporary because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross of Calvary.  This deep rooted knowledge brings me the hope, joy and peace that passes all understanding that I continue to experience each and every day.

This leads me to my second, final and most important point in that I want to share this hope with those who might read this, or hear my family's story, and not have it themselves.  Those people that might have experienced similar loss or be going through their own deep valley's whatever they may be can have this same hope for themselves, in that they too can have the opportunity to spend eternity with Christ.  Each of us have a decision to make whether we will accept this free gift of salvation or we will deny it.  The whole purpose of me sharing my thoughts and story is that all who hear it will make the decision to accept this real and tangible gift.

If you made it to the end of this, thank you!  I appreciate each and everyone of you who have ever taken the time to read and/or share my blog.  I'll leave you with this...

Psalm 91

My Refuge and My Fortress

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Some Practical Advice for All Parents......

This post is probably one of the more practical ones for every parent out there, or for those of you who hope to be a parent.  My other post have been primarily about losing Jack and Hayes, but I want to go a different direction with this entry.  I have had this on my heart for awhile now and want to get it out there

As many of you know my wife and I have been blessed with four amazing boys, Noah, Drew, Jack, and Hayes.  I can't tell you how much I love being a dad!  I have always loved watching my boys, playing with them, hugging and kissing them, listening to them laugh, and just doing dad things with them!  As hard as it is to be missing two of them, and not getting those opportunities, I am beyond thankful to God for Noah and Drew.  They are such an incredible blessing to Jess and I, that I thank God every day for them.

The reason for this post is that I want to take the opportunity to encourage all of you parents in particular out there.  There are times where I will see parents complaining about what a rough time they are having with their kids, or lamenting how tough their baby is being, or how little sleep they are getting, or the arguing and bickering they keep having to put up with, and the list goes on.......  When I read those it makes me sad sometimes or there are times where I have gotten a little angry because of them.  I want to encourage you to step back and thank God for the blessing(s) you have been given.

I do want to make it clear that I am not by any means saying a parent shouldn't ever get frustrated with their kids, because I know that I do at times.  Kids have that special way of knowing what buttons to push to send us over the edge.  I totally get it!!  What I do want to do is hopefully help those of you who find yourself in that place more than you like, and give you some encouragement in regards to the incredible gift and responsibility God has given you.

I will tell you my experience in that before Jack passed away I found myself being incredibly impatient with Noah, Drew, and Jack.  It wasn't over the top and horrible by any means, but my patience was very short with them more than I should have been.  It seemed that I was always snapping at them for big and small things.  I don't remember if it was because I was stressed with life and I was taking it out on the boys, or what it was, but what I do remember is that I was not being a very loving and fun dad to my boys.  It was to the point that I noticed that I was doing it.  Jess had even noticed how short I was with the boys and had mentioned it to me. 

I don't remember the exact day, but I do remember walking up the stairs feeling myself getting ready to snap at the boys for being to loud or something, and I thought, "I need to stop being like this".  It was at that very instant that I prayed and asked God for more patience with the boys, and to show more love to them rather than impatience.  I made a point from that day forward that I was going to bring it down a notch and enjoy the fact that I had Noah and the twins at that point.  I did not want the boys to look back and think dad was always snapping at us, but I want them to look back and think wow, dad loved us and showed it!

It was probably a month later that we found out Jess was pregnant with Hayes and then two weeks later Jack died right before he and Drew's 3rd birthday.  I look back at that prayer and thank God for the fact that He had convicted me of my lack of patience with the boys.  It would be that much worse if I looked back with nothing but regret for not appreciating the times I had with Jack, and being so short with them.  I love that I can look back and think of that moment and know that I spent that last month actively trying to be a better, and more loving dad to those three boys.

My appreciation and love grew exponentially for Noah, Drew, and Hayes after Jack died.  I came to a realization how fragile life could be and how short time is.  As I have said before when you lose one child you think you have a pass on ever having something like that happening again.  When Hayes died last August at 9 months old, I came to the complete realization that we do not control anything, and we do not know what today holds, much less tomorrow.  It was at the moment that it came into crystal clear focus that my time with Jess, Noah, and Drew is not guaranteed, and I need to take every moment I have and make the most of it!

I love my wife and boys more than life itself.  I know that the parents who will read this do too!  I want to encourage you to stop and take that time to enjoy every moment you with your kids!  I love spending time with Noah and Drew, because I know that it can all be taken away in an instant and I don't want to waste it.  I try and take as many pictures as I can with them.  I try to play with them as much as I can.  I try to spend time just talking with them.  I try to love on them as much as I can.  I am not perfect at this by any means, and I still get impatient with them, but I always try to stop myself and thank God for the time He has given us with Noah and Drew.

Spend time with your kids!  Put your phones, iPads, video games, books, or whatever it may be down and spend time loving on your kids.  God has blessed you with an incredible gift that is worth more than anything else you will ever have.  Your children are the greatest responsibility you will ever be given and the greatest thing you will ever do in this life is raise your children.  Love on your kids and your spouse every chance you get, because you don't know what tomorrow brings..........

Go hug and kiss your kids tonight!

15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Luke 18:15-17

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jack, 2 years in............4/17/2011 - 4/17/2013

Today we have officially reached the two year milestone since our Jack went to meet Jesus face to face.  We are also just 5 days short of the 8 month anniversary of Hayes going to meet Jesus and his big brother Jack face to face as well.  I have had some things on my heart that I have been wanting to share and thought that today was the appropriate time to do that.

As many of you know this blog came to be as a result of the loss of two of our boys, Jack and Hayes.  I have been praying and thinking about what the purpose of this blog is supposed to be as it has evolved.  There are a couple of things I have come to realize.  The first is to hopefully help those that have experienced the loss of a child and to show that there is hope and joy even in the midst of the grief.  My heart is not only for those who have lost a child, but also for anyone who has experienced loss or may be experiencing a valley in their life where there seems to be no way out.  My heart is to bring hope to those who are hurting.

My biggest hope though is that in the midst of all this, is that my boy's lives and their stories ultimately draw others to Christ.  That is the only place that true hope, peace that passes all understanding, and joy can be found.  I remember like it was yesterday when Jess and I were sitting in the hospital on Aug 21st, 2012 the day Hayes died, coming to grips with and in total shock over the fact that we had just lost our second child in less than a year and a half.  I remember sitting there and the only thing that I could think to ask God for was please don't let this be in vain.  I need to see others come to and receive Christ through our losses.  If God would do that I knew that our family was going to be okay.

On that beautiful Palm Sunday morning when Jack died it was nothing short of our world being completely turned upside down.  I remember every detail of that day down to the beautiful cherry blossoms on the trees in the parking lot of the hospital.  I remember thinking how incredibly beautiful it was outside that day as I was sitting out there trying to come to grips with the fact Jack wasn't coming home.  It will forever be burned in my memory the contrast between the beauty of that day and the absolute grief I was experiencing.

There was a fog that I entered for several months after Jack died where the weight of it was huge.  Fortunately we had Noah and Drew to think about, and Jess was pregnant with Hayes at the time.  The adjustments that our family went through were massive in so many ways.  Trying to help Drew come to grips with why his twin brother who had always been there with him was gone and beyond heart wrenching to deal with.   The adjustments that happen in any family that loses a child is massive to say the least, and we were experiencing them all.

It was during those ensuing months after Jack passed away that we started moving within the new normal that was our family.  Jack had left behind a huge hole that would never be filled.  Even when Hayes was born 7 months later that hole was not filled.  Hayes was a huge bright spot in the midst of the grief!  Hayes never ever replaced Jack in our family, but he was a huge blessing.  Hayes burned white hot in our family for a total of 9 months and 2 days before he too went on to meet Jesus.

You might be wondering why I am bringing all this up again.  I bring it up for those of you who might read this and are dealing with some huge mountain in your life such as a loss of a child or other family member, a cancer diagnosis, a divorce, loss of a job, and the list could go on......  I want you to know that I know what it is like to face what seems like an insurmountable obstacle or to be in the deepest and darkest of valleys.  I want you to know that there is nothing within me that could overcome the loss of Jack and Hayes.  There is nothing that someone else could say or do for me that would bring me peace, joy, and hope after the loss of my boys.  There is nothing that this world could offer me that would make any sense of the unbelievable tragedy of losing two perfectly healthy children within 16 months of each other.

I know that there are some of you that may read this that I have met, and there are those that I haven't, and you are facing your own mountain or deep dark valley.  I want you to know that it is possible to have peace that passes all understanding, real joy where there doesn't seem to be any, and most of all hope because there is One who has overcome it all for you.  I have experienced each and every one of those in my life in the last two years.

I can honestly say that I have more peace, joy, and hope now than I have ever had at any one point in my life.  I don't say this because I am deluding myself into coping with these losses or because I am using religion as a crutch.  It took the loss of my boys to realize how little control I have over this life, but in the midst of it I discovered that it is only God who controls it all.  I have mentioned this before, but I feel impressed to mention it again for some of you who may read this.  The one emotion that I have not experienced is anger.  I'm not saying that those of you who have are wrong to feel it, but for me its not there.  This is because I know where my boys are beyond a shadow of a doubt!  I know that I am going to see Jack and Hayes again.  This life is nothing more than a vapor in time, and before I know it I will be spending eternity with my boys.

I know this may seem like a sermon, but my heart is for each and every person that I come in contact with in my life either in person or through this blog, will find where my peace, joy, and hope come from.  That is through Jesus Christ who died that I might live and see my boys again.  My heart is overwhelmed at the gift I was given in that I get to see my boys again!!  My heart is overwhelmed for you that you might also receive that gift.  There are many that may read this who I am actually praying for to find that same hope, and I am praying for anyone who read this that you will find that hope.  It is a free gift available to all for the asking.

I will end with this.  Would I rather have my boys and not have to deal with the two gaping holes in our family and all the grief and pain that goes with it?  The answer is a resounding yes!  I never expected to be walking this road and dealing with this kind of loss, but I can honestly say I have grown more and learned more than I ever would have had I not had to walk this road.  If my boys lives can help bring hope to someone else out there through a right relationship with the Creator of the universe, then I wouldn't trade this road for another.

I am beyond thankful to all of you who have supported us over the last two years!!  Please do not hesitate to contact me if there is ever any questions I can answer or things I can pray for.

Until we meet again boys....... I love you Jack and Hayes!

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Romans 5:6-11

Friday, March 1, 2013

Foundation Building.........

I am sitting here early this morning not able to sleep, thinking about mine and my family's life. We have walked a road that I never would have dreamed we would be on in a million years. I think many people would say that their lives haven't gone a 100% the way they would have planned.

Something we all do is plan our lives and futures out, and the way we see it playing out. Some of us do an amazing job of succeeding in meeting those goals and plans we make. Sometimes it's a few of those plans that don't come to fruition, other times its a lot of them, but we still end up where we wanted and satisfied with our lives. Then there are those that it seems like our life and plans go completely off the path we envisioned. 

I have something stirring in my heart about the times that life goes off the proverbial path. I'm still working through all of what it is God is laying on my heart and it will continue to come out in future posts. I have some of the picture that I want to share now though. 

When I talk about life going off course, I'm talking about those life changing moments we all experience that are not what we envisioned or expected. This could be a death, marriage, divorce, a job loss, a diagnosis of cancer, the list could go on....... The truth of the matter is that we all face things in our lives that we did not plan on. It's those moments, when it seems the path we envisioned our lives taking completely goes in a different direction than we ever expected, that I want to talk about.

We all are faced with these moments in life where we are sitting there thinking what happened, that wasn't the way it was supposed to go! If you have not experienced moments like that, then I would tell you to thank God and be prepared that they will probably come. I'm not trying to be negative, but I am wanting to plant a seed that will hopefully be there when those moments of life do come. 

I am talking about HOPE. I have spoken of this in previous posts, but God is continuing to grow this concept in my life. I am talking of a real, deep rooted, foundation building hope. The kind of hope that is only found in Jesus Christ.

The thing that is drawing me to this topic again and again is the lack of hope that I see in so many of those going through those moments where it is absolutely needed. I can see people who are struggling through life because they don't have hope and don't know where to find it. The only thing that gives me true peace and joy in the midst of losing Jack and Hayes is the fact that I have a hope built on the Rock.

I am continually praying that God will take the loss of our two boys and give us the opportunity to use it for His glory. I always feel that I need to qualify these things by saying that there is nothing special about Jess or myself, but that it is only through the grace of God that we are moving forward. That being said, I want to share the HOPE that I have with all who come across my path. I know where my boys are, I know that I am going to see them again, and I know that this life is but a drop in the ocean in comparison to the eternity. 

I feel the need to say this to all who question where God is in all of this tragedy and pain in the world around us. There is nothing that takes God by surprise. He know the beginning from the end. He knows each and every facet of our lives. He knows the exact number of days we have on this earth. He knows each and every struggle, heartache, and pain we will ever feel or experience in this life. 

People have questioned why would God allow my two perfectly healthy boys to die so suddenly less than a year and a half apart from each other. I can honestly say that I don't entirely know the answer to that. I do know that God sees the beginning from the end where I do not, and I have a peace and faith knowing that He is working through it for His glory. 

The point of all this is that there is a hope for each and every person who reads this. Maybe you know Christ and are just struggling not knowing where God is in your life. Maybe you know of Christ, but your view if Him is as a God who doesn't care. Maybe you have no knowledge of Christ and have actively pushed away from or avoided God altogether. I am here to tell you the only way that there is only one place find peace, joy, and hope. That is through Jesus Christ.

I know it may seem like I am just preaching through these post, but it is so much more than that. The deepest desire of my heart is that those who I am ever privileged enough to come into contact with, and to share my story, will find the same hope and peace I have. 

God is calling to each and every person who reads this, and is asking if you will trust Him enough to lay your burdens on Him. I will tell you upfront that if you decide to follow Christ and give Him your all, your life is not going to just turn around and become perfect. I can say with all certainty that it will not. Jesus never promised that it would be easy to follow Him, or that there would never be any pain or suffering. We live in a fallen sinful world, and all that it has to offer is pain and suffering. 

What I can promise you is that if you choose to follow Christ you will find peace like never before. I have experienced a peace that passes all understanding. I have a hope that exceeds anything this world has to offer. I have joy that wells up within me when there is no reason that I should have joy. It is because of what Christ did on the cross that I can say I have peace, hope, and joy. The question is will you go to the One who offers you the same free gift...........

Come to me, all who labor and are  heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am  gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  

Matthew 11:28-30

As always please feel free to contact me with any questions, thoughts, or comments. Thank you to all of you who make it through and continue to read my ramblings! :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

According to His Purpose..............

It has been awhile since I have posted.  I always plan on posting more, but between family, work, and school my time goes quickly and there never seems to be enough of it.  I am sure there are many out there who can appreciate this.

I seem to go through ups and downs as the weeks and months go by since both Jack and Hayes' deaths.  I know that is obvious and is to be expected, but what is amazing is how much the emotion and pain can come flooding in with no notice.  There is really no description for the empty space that is left behind when a child dies.  It is a hole like no other.  The two empty spaces in our family are profound and ever present.  It makes me appreciate all the more that we have Noah and Drew who bring so much joy into our lives.

I have been much more reflective and thinking about both Jack and Hayes over the last several weeks and month, due to some other families that have recently suffered the loss of a child.  My heart grieves for those families that have gone through tragedy of losing a child.  Some of the recent stories that I have heard have made step back and thank God for how He was there for us even in the midst of losing our boys.

I don't want to rehash some of my other post, but I feel the need to get some thoughts out there again.  Not only for those of you may read this that have lost a child, but also for those of you who are facing hardships of any kind.  The reason I write this blog is because I want to share the faithfulness of God that is found in Jesus Christ.  My prayer always is that God will minister to others through the story of our two little boys lives.  That is what truly matters through all that we have gone through, that God uses it for His glory.

The big idea of this post is that God is faithful even when we do not see it, or feel it for that matter.  Often times when the trials and hardships of this life hit it is easy to ask God, "where were you", and blame Him for not being with us.  I'm not saying that all do this, but it is easy to do this when we see the death of children, other tragedies and trials we all face, or things like the shooting in Newtown, CT.  It is not wrong to ask God "why", or to question why there is such evil and heartache.  What I would encourage all to do though, is not blame God during these times.

It is in the midst of the heartache and darkness where I can honestly say that God is closest to us, beckoning us to Himself.  I can speak to our experience of losing our two boys unexpectedly over a year and a half period of time that God was the most faithful.  I have never experienced a peace in my life like I have during the two times immediately after our boys death.  Does that mean the heartbreak and pain weren't there?  Of course not, but it means that I could see hand of God moving in my family's life in the midst of it all. 

I still can't say that I understand why we lost Jack and then lost Hayes less than a year and a half later.  I don't know that I ever will, but I know that Jesus has changed lives as a result of those two little boys.  There is absolutely nothing special about my wife or I beyond the work Jesus Christ has done in our lives.  Christ has been so faithful to my family that I thank him everyday for what He has done for us.  What I know is that even in the circumstances surrounding our boys deaths there are so many ways that it could have been worse.  We are not having to deal with the added dimensions of what the Newtown school shooting families are going through, or what one of the local families in our community are going through in the loss of their son. 

Even in regards to what all of those families are going through I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is working in those circumstances as well.  While God did not cause the sin, tragedy, or death in those situations, He can and is working through them.  He is bringing comfort and changing lives through all of it.  He is always beckoning and calling out to those who are hurting because that is where true peace and comfort is found.

I know with everything in me that my boys, and all the other children who have recently lost their lives are with Jesus right now in Heaven.  The question is for all of us is will we be there as well when it is our time?  I will close this by saying there is true peace and comfort to be found for anyone who is experiencing tragedy, trials, and tribulations right now in Jesus Christ.  I have a peace that passes all understanding because of the work that God has done in my life.  My prayer and the purpose of this blog is that others will find that comfort as well.  It is there for those who desire it and all you need to do is ask. 

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:28-39