Monthly Archives: November 2013

Tears and laughter…good medicine!

We’ve shed some tears and had some laughs over the last few days…I’m grateful for both. Tears and laughter are both a part of the healing process. Thankful we serve a God who walks with us through it all!


A dear friend sent this to Emily and I this week. The lady who wrote this had a daughter who died 6 years ago. Her words aptly describe exactly how Emily and I feel. As I went through it, I adjusted her comments and some things in a few places to personalize it for our situation. We are thankful for so many things today…grieving, yet rejoicing! As we have said: “Life is less sweet, death is less bitter, and heaven is more real.”

“What is there to be thankful for on this day?

We are thankful to be Trey’s mom and dad. It was an honor and a privilege and a blessing beyond measure.

We are thankful for the people that we met along the way–doctors, nurses, and other parents of people that we would never have met if we hadn’t entered their world.

We are thankful for Trey’s incredible laugh and beautiful smile…two things burned in our hearts forever.

We are thankful for superheroes, action figures, coloring books, cartoons, wrestlers, video games, and so many other things Trey loved.

We are thankful for the lives that were and continue to be changed through our story.

We are thankful that on September 1, 2013, Trey didn’t die, he began to “really live!”

We are thankful for a little 7 year old boy named Ben who asked Jesus to be the “boss of his life,” just like Trey!

We are thankful for the wisdom we are gaining through suffering.

We are thankful that we have received comfort that we can use to comfort others.

We are thankful for a marriage that will survive the death of a child.

We are thankful for our other children whose lives were forever impacted, but not defined, by their brother’s death. We are thankful for the incredible courage they show every single day of their lives.

We are thankful for tested faith that is more precious than gold.

We are thankful for an eternal perspective. What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal…2 Corinthians 4:18.

We are thankful that we are learning to trust God deeply, even though we can’t always understand him.

We are thankful for the ‘missing feeling’ that reminds us that this world is not our home.

We are thankful for a reunion to look forward to.

We are thankful that Trey taught us to make every breath count and to live life even when we feel don’t like it.

We are thankful for good friends who walked through the valley with us and who remember.

We are thankful for new friends whose encouragement has meant more to us than we could ever say.

We are thankful that God can make beauty from ashes and change mourning to dancing.

We will always be sorry that Trey died, but we will never be sorry that he lived.

We are thankful that because of Jesus and Jesus alone…we will see our son again and worship the one true God together around His throne!

Splash-Overs of Heaven and Hell

Joni Eareckson Tada might be one of the greatest voices the church has today. Her perspective on suffering is incredible. She’s been a paraplegic most of her life and was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago. One of the truths God showed her a few years ago has been a tremendous encouragement to me. She calls it “splash-overs of hell,” and “splash-overs of heaven.” Read the following quote from her and be blessed:

“I had breast cancer and one day when I was coming home from chemo, my husband Ken and I were talking about “splash-overs” of hell. I’ve always said that suffering is like a little splash-over of hell, reminding us of what Christ rescued us from—like a tiny taste of what life could be like for all of eternity, were it not for God’s graciousness. So we started talking about what splash-overs of heaven are; the places or times when there’s no suffering and life is breezy and things are going our way . . . but then we decided nope, splashovers of heaven are not that. They’re not the mountaintop experiences. Splash-overs of heaven are when you find Jesus in the splash-over of hell. It was so encouraging to suddenly feel that powerful little insight take root in my heart. So instead of trying to be so quick to escape pain—even as I keep praying for change—I’ve been learning to be quick to sit and wait and see what satisfaction the Lord will give. I know that yielding to Him and patiently waiting on Him is winning me “an eternal glory that far outweighs [it] all” (2 Cor. 4:17 niv). When I stick with Him in “the fellowship of His sufferings” (Phil. 3:10), I’m increasing my capacity for joy and worship and service, and that draws me closer to Jesus. It gives such meaning to the pain.”

That is some powerful stuff. Here is my interpretation of what she was saying…splash-overs of heaven on earth are not always God delivering you from your “hell,” but rather, Him coming to you in your “hell” and carrying you through it! This is what I am currently experiencing. God has come to me in my darkest moment and said, “I am here. I am with you. Others will forsake you and abandon you. I will never leave you or forsake and I will see you through.” Praise be unto God that we serve such a gracious and compassionate God who abounds in mercy and love! Thank you Jesus for coming to me in my hell and waking with me through it all! I realize this is just a splash-over, and one day I will experience the fullness of deliverance when you bring me into Your presence, just as You did Trey! I love you Lord!!!

A series of firsts…

Well, a series of more firsts without Trey are rapidly approaching. This is a special time of the year, one our family loves…one Trey loved. Trey wanted one more big snow last year that he could play in…he never got that…so when the first snow comes, it will be in his honor :-). I remember Thanksgiving last year…Emily’s sister was pregnant with Toby; Emily’s mom, Cynthia, was still with us, and Trey was able to be home. We had a very blessed Thanksgiving. I remember one night our family was all sitting around just sharing all the things we were thankful for. It was a special night. We were all under one roof and it was just such a sweet time. My how things have changed…Toby, Cynthia, and Trey will celebrate Thanksgiving around the throne of God this year. How awesome is that???

But, for us here, I’m reminded that the same God who was with us then, will be with us this Thanksgiving, and He will see us through. I’m personally praying for a very special Thanksgiving with my family. Each of my children, Emily and I included, are writing letters about what Trey meant to us and we plan to read them aloud to each other on Thanksgiving day. Pray this will be a special and meaningful time of reflection and celebration. Each one of my kids have grieved and still grieve in their own way, but I’m so proud of them. They are HEROS to Emily and I! I could never ask for better kids who have had to already endure way more than I ever even dreamed about as a kid. Their lives have been much harder than mine ever was, and each of them is and will continue to rise up. God is sustaining us all…day by day…moment by moment…breath by breath. Our faith is deeper, our love is stronger, and our hope is greater. God continues to prove Himself 100% faithful!!!

We are hurting this holiday season, but we have MUCH to be thankful more. We will not complain…we will rejoice! We will not despair…we will hope! We will not give up…we will rise with the power of Jesus Christ in our lives. In every tear, there will be hope and joy and with every memory of Trey, we will remember that we serve a God who will one day MAKE ALL THINGS NEW!!!

Amen and amen!!!

We love you Jesus!

A Familiar Place

In many ways, these opening lyrics to a new song by Chris Tomlin describe where I am:

“I’m coming back to the start
where You found me
I’m coming back to Your heart
now I surrender
Take me, this is all I can bring.”

The reality is…all I can bring, is all that God wants: surrender!

All Three with Jesus!

All three head stones have finally been set. Trey, Trey’s grandma (Cynthia) and Trey’s cousin (Toby). I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in John 11:

Jesus said…, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die…” (John 11:25-26)

These three are with the Lord and in that I greatly rejoice! One day soon I will see them again. There is total victory in Jesus!




An Important Week

Tuesday’s date was 11/12/13…an unique date for sure. It was a date some people found interesting or perhaps didn’t even notice, and a date many will probably forget. For me, 11/12/13 took on a new meaning though. For me 11/12/13 is a date I won’t forget. I won’t forget it, not because of its unique sequence, but rather because of some things God spoke to my heart.

It’s been a little over 2 months since Trey went to be with the Lord. Things have not gotten easier or harder…things have just changed. Emily and I and our children are learning to live with a broken heart. We are all trying to figure out the new normal. I know some people think I’m healing nicely, and I’m sure there are others who think I should heal faster, but the Lord is healing us in His time. Emily and I know things will never be the same, but we know that God will keep strengthening us and helping us move forward.

Our faith has never been stronger!!! I say it again, our faith is strong. Yes, we have wrestled with living what we know to be true at times, and getting the mind and the heart on the same page can be a challenge, but all in all, I think we are doing as well as can be expected. God continues to show Himself faithful to us and teach us what it means to truly trust Him. We are learning to trust Him deeply with our pain.

I have had some difficult, but meaningful conversations this week though. What’s interesting is that as a result of some of the conversations I have had, God really began moving in my heart. It’s hard to describe, but Tuesday was a turning point for me…a turning point that is difficult to even describe. I’m just learning daily how to live through the pain. One thing I’m realizing is that it is hard having a broken heart, but still having to be a spiritual leader. It’s hard to help people with their grief, when I still have a mountain of my own to deal with…but God has called and equipped me to pastor and shepherd people, and He is showing and teaching me how to do this more faithfully. I’m very grateful for God’s overwhelming, carrying grace. He reminded me this week that I am in the palm of His hand and He will see me through. I’m just discovering that God often uses hard things to speak to and change me…and I guess in a strange way, I am even learning to appreciate the hard things.

The challenge for me will be balancing it all…balancing my emotions; attitude; responses; thoughts; goals; desires; etc. I have to lead my wife…my children…my extended family…the church God has called me to…and on and on. The only way I will be able to do that effectively is by letting the Lord lead me. I know He is walking me! I know that all I really have to do is please Him! I know that no matter what, He is in control and He will provide all I need, in order for me to be who I need to be.

So…He spoke all that into my heart this Tuesday…that and much more. I needed it. I needed to be reminded that while others don’t know my heart, He does. He is walking with me. He is so good and so faithful. He understand my pain. He weeps and rejoices with me. He truly is the shepherd of MY soul. As the Psalmist said, “I love you oh Lord my strength!” And boy do I love the Lord.

One final thing…when Trey breathed his last breath and stepped into eternity with His Savior, I thought I was somewhat prepared for that. Emily and I had talked about the reality and possibility of his death many times. We talked to our kids about it. We wanted no one blind-sided. Well, all I can tell you is this: NOTHING, absolutely nothing can prepare you for such an event. Watching your precious child breathe their final breaths, even with the hope of heaven in your heart, may be the most heart wrenching experience in the world. While those moments shook our family to the core, what we have discovered is that God is everything He says He is and provides everything He said He would provide. He was with us in those moments…and most importantly, He was with Trey and carried Trey safely into His arms. Emily and I have been weak at times, and perhaps that is all you have seen of us…but in those moments of weakness, GOD HAS BEEN STRONG!!! When we struggle to breathe, He breathes for us. When we don’t want to get up, He lifts our head. When pressure and stress rises, He gives peace. So, we may not have handled everything perfectly…in fact, I know we haven’t, but I know this, in the midst of our darkest hours, our God has been 100% faithful to us. He has been perfect, because He is perfect. He has been patient with us and carried us along…and He will see us ALL THE WAY HOME!

We hope our journey has been nothing but an encouragement to you. We have tried to be real and honest and always point to the Lord. As I said though, I know we’ve messed up at times along the way, and if our journey and the way we have handled our journey has caused you to stumble in any way, I am sorry. We have only always ever wanted to point to Jesus through this journey…and I pray we have.

Keep praying for our family. We are healing. We are learning and adjusting to the new normal. And most importantly, we are experiencing a closeness to the Lord and each other like never before.

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust in Him.” -Nahum 1:7

Our God is Healer

When Trey would get treatments or try to go to sleep, he would often put his headphones in and listen to music. What was hilarious was that he would sing as the music played, not realizing how loud he was. Sometimes the nurses would be in his room administering his treatment and he would be laying forward (as he always did) with his headphones on and music playing…and singing loud. We would all laugh and just enjoy listening to him. I tried to video it one time, but he popped his head up before I could get recording and told me to not video him…so I didn’t. Oh how I wish I would have now.

The song that I remember Trey singing them most was, Our God, by Chris Tomlin. When I think now about the words he sang then…it all takes on a whole new meaning. He is now with the very One He was singing to! Praise The Lord!!! Read the lyrics below and think of where Trey is:

Our God

Water you turned into wine, opened the eyes of the blind there’s no one like you, none like You!
Into the darkness you shine out of the ashes we rise there’s no one like you none like You!

Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!

Into the darkness you shine out of the ashes we rise there’s no one like you, none like You!
Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!
Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us!!!

I love you Trey!!! Worship on my son. Can’t wait to worship Jesus with you buddy!!! See you soon.

Trusting Who God is!

Faith…what is faith? It is believing in what you cannot see. According to Hebrews 11:1…it is the conviction and the certainty of unseen things…and without it, we cannot please God.

If there has ever been a time in my life that my faith has been tested, it is now. I am being forced to my knees and I’m finding out the reality of my faith. My faith is being put through the Refiner’s fire, and I pray what comes out is pure. In fact, I think the only way we can find out if our relationship with God is real…is through intense testing. Everyone who ever did anything significant for the Lord in the Bible was tested in the most extreme of all ways. So, while I am comforted that believers for all ages have suffered and endured by faith…the question is, “Will I?”

This isn’t about me being a pastor…or a seminarian…or a theologian…this is raw, this is real…this is about being a true, genuine follower of Christ. Do I trust God? And you know, when I think about the Christian life, I believe the essence of it comes down to faith. Does a person truly take God at His Word…do we believe what God has said and promised…and an even bigger question is, do we believe who God is?

For me, as I said, my faith is being put to the test. This isn’t something small either…it’s not like I’m asking God to help me believe Him for something trivial…this is big…this is huge…I asking God to help me believe that He really is in control of all things…that He really did carry my son into His arms…that everything in His Word is 100% true.

And guess what??? What I’m discovering is that God is everything He says He is…and since He is all He says He is, then I know He will do all He says He will do. Trusting God for what He does really comes back to trusting God for who He is. If you trust God…who He is…then you can take what He says He will do to the bank. If God is 100% true, then His promises are 100% true as well. Who God is, what He does, and what He promises are all inextricably tied together…but everything hinges on who God is!

Now, what I’m asking for…is for God to increase my faith, for that’s what it all comes down to. “God, help me to believe You and trust You more each day…that’s what I need the most. For YOU ARE GOD and there is no other!”

God is slowly bringing me along…walking with me through the valley of the shadow of death…at times, even carrying me. The emotional pain is deep and it’s hard to set my mind on things above every day…but I’m learning to do it…and most importantly, I’m learning what it means to TRULY trust God.

Written Message from Trey

Still hard to believe I won’t be receiving written messages like this from Trey again. I love him so much…and today is one step closer to being reunited! I love you son.


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