Sustaining Grace

Grief is exhausting.  Mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  We may often pray for relief asking for this heavy burden to be taken away.  We are then often disappointed or frustrated when that doesn’t happen. It may feel that our prayers for deliverance from the pain and sorrow go unanswered.  We want a Red Sea moment. Instead, God offers us something else that we can easily miss — the sustaining grace to endure every day. Our prayers for deliverance are answered with something more needful: the gift of sustenance.

If we only look for miraculous deliverance from the trial of life (including grief), we overlook the grace that mercifully keeps drawing us close to our God.  We want to be rid of it. Thankfully, God has something much grander and ultimately better in mind for us. That is the power of a transcendent, eternal perspective.  Our prayers may seem unanswered until we step back and then see them fulfilled in ways that keep us more dependent, needy, and holding fast to the rock of our faith.

The children of Israel wrestled with appreciating the daily gift of sustenance in their long years of wandering the wilderness.  God daily provided manna to meet their physical needs and prevent starvation. (Ex. 16) Yet, even in that gift of sustenance there was the test of faith and trust.  God providentially would not allow them to hoard it so as to keep the Israelites from avoiding that kind of needful, daily dependence on Him.

How many times though did they disdain the gift of daily manna?  (Num. 11) They complained. They wanted something more or something different.  Our hearts are quick to rightly judge their unbelief and spirit of complaining. Yet, we then are prone to do the same especially in our grief.  We want something more than the plain, boring, daily, and monotonous grace just like the Israelites wanted something other than manna. The manna was taken for granted.  It was the standard expectation that God provided day after day, month after month, year after year.

I confess that it is a similar challenge I have faced.  I fail to appreciate and be grateful for God’s continuous presence and help, each and every day.  He sustains me with strength when I am weak. (Isa. 40:31) He gives me eyes of faith to see. (Eph. 1:18)  He gives His Word to lift my soul out of never ending sorrow (Ps. 119:28), and give us life-sustaining power.  (Jn. 6:63)

If you and I were to look back over our lives, we could see those miraculous mountain-top experience of deliverance that God did.  Those memories ought to stir us with gratitude and faith. Sometimes though when we are still in that deep, and dark valley those past moments can feel so far and distant as if they might never happen again.  In that, we can instead turn to the more recent tests of “wait” and “no” to the cries of our heart. Those are the more immediate situations in which when we look closer we can see the deeper work in our souls.  Those answers force us to reckon with the question of “are we really seeking the Giver, or just His gifts?” When we humble ourselves, we acknowledge our need and seek Him better. In that quest, we find joy as our faith is tested and perfected.  (James 1)

Sustaining grace is just as precious a gift as delivering grace, and in grief many times, even more precious.  One of the most frequent prayers I have prayed since Sarah went home, has been the prayer for God not to let me forget the things that I have learned.  And I have found Him faithful to answer most often in that kind of daily dependence that comes in the sorrow and anguish. I see the daily grace and how He is more precious as a result.  

That kind of grace showcases God’s glory in and through us.  Other people see in the midst of our grief what God is doing as He daily bears us up.  We see that glory in how He is transforming our character to be more like Christ. (Rom. 8:26-30)  When we ask for delivering grace, God is answering in the waiting with sustaining grace. So, don’t stop praying for relief and deliverance.  Just then look for the answer to that prayer in the daily sustenance and dependence as well. This grace brings with it the intimate presence of our living God and all the power of transformation that He brings.  That is a far better and more precious answer to prayer than we realize.

This is a draft excerpt from my ongoing booklet project on how to grieve Biblically.

Why Marry? Or more specifically, Why Should We Marry?

My Dearest and Most Precious Anna,

Today is the day long awaited.  Today represents the culmination of the countless prayers, tears, and hopes we both, along with our beloved family and dear friends, have experienced in the winding path that finally led us together. Today will bring both the pealing forth of the bells of the church announcing our marriage as well as the unbridled celebration of all those who rejoice with us!  Our hearts, minds, souls, and lives unite for the rest of our lives!


Why Marry? – Because I Want to Love You Like Christ Does

Before we begin this marriage together with all of the exciting and hopeful what-ifs of this future together, I want to first set the foundation in eternal truths.  I want every what-if to be grounded in something that goes beyond emotions and feelings and instead draws strength from the deeper well of commitment and fidelity as first demonstrated to us by our loving God.  As the Apostle John wrote in 1 John 4:9-11, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Our love does not originate from anything inherent in us.  Rather, we can fully love each other because God loves us and has demonstrated to us what true love really is.  So I choose to love you as a channel of God’s ultimate love for you. I love all that I know about you and all that I have yet to learn, the good and the bad, the joyful and the hard.  That kind of love is a verb, not a state of being. I aspire to love you more tomorrow than I do today. I want to demonstrate by every word, action, and intent that kind of love. As Christ loves you, so too do I want to love you with selfless, sacrificial love.  Love as an emotion ebbs and flows like the tide whereas love as a God-empowered choice — an action — a verb — flows on without ceasing. When powered by the love of God, this kind of love grows and expands until it has no end, never quantified or measured.


Why Marry? – Because I Want to be Your Husband

In the months before our relationship began, my heart plumbed the depths of my lesson-filled past and an unknown future seeking whether I should again seek to shoulder the awe-inspiring responsibility of a husband.  In that search, I kept coming back to the fundamental principles of what the Bible demonstrates as the greater picture of marriage and its blessings and challenges. Having taken these solemn vows before and lived them to the end, I know even more intimately the deep and solemn spiritual, practical, and emotional considerations that I will shoulder as your husband.  Yet, I knew I wanted that. My soul longed to have a wife to serve, lead, and love.

May every husband and those seeking to become a husband tremble in fear at this grand and heavenly weight of responsibility.  Yet even in that recognition, a husband can joyfully love and sacrificially lead knowing that all is required to do both is the grace of God.  Biblical marriage is the joining together of two sinners saved by grace who learn to humbly depend on God for all aspects of their relationship, forgive in love and grace the failings of their spouse, build one another up in their daily walk with God, and form an unbreakable team for greater ministry impact in their family, church, and community than either of them could ever do alone.  In that task, I just trust in God’s grace that I can be a yielded servant and joyfully obey the great calling of marriage.

Our marriage will also bring great and unspeakable joy!  There is deep strength and peaceful comfort in the oneness of marriage, the complete transparency we can have with each other where we bare our souls in all of their strengths, weaknesses, fears, failures, successes, deepest dreams and desires, and all the mundane ordinariness in between.  As we will come to fully know and fully love one another, how joyous it will be to pour that into one another, not turning away, but deepening the investment of never-ending love and commitment to each other. In that marriage philosophy, we will rest in grace (Rom. 8:1) and fight by faith (Rom. 8:13)

I want to serve you; to seek your counsel; to comfort and protect you; to live with you in an understanding way.  I want us to grow in our knowledge with one another so that one look between us can convey a world of meaning. My heart longs to help you grow and mature in sanctification; to lead us in our spiritual pursuits in worship, devotions, service in the local church, and the washing of the water of the Word.  I want to go through life as we experience together both joys and sorrows of life; to minister to one another’s needs; to provide a home as a place for ministry to others and Lord willing, to our children one day; to seek out the lost, hurting, and needy that we might minister to them. I want to be your husband in each of these things as well as every unknown trial that will come too.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Prov. 18:22).  God has blessed me in you with an excellent one, one more precious than the rarest of treasures (Prov. 31:10–12).  You have exceeded my every hope for what this next chapter could ever be! I never want to get over that fact!

I am both humbled by the awesome responsibility it is to lead our marriage and love you as Christ loves you, but also so thrilled and excited to see what God has for us next as we look to what a future together will look like!


Why Marry? – Because I Want to Point You and Others to Eternal Truth

Just as we held a rehearsal yesterday for today’s wedding ceremony, today is also in some ways a dress rehearsal for the marriage yet to come.  

As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18)

“‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Eph. 5:31–32)

In the beginning of creation, God officiated the very first marriage.  As Adam spoke the very first poetic words by singing the very first song (Gen. 2:23), God joined them together for a purpose bigger than anything just on earth.  It was a preview of eternity’s far greater romance and the promise of the perfect Bridegroom yet to come! When Christ came as the Messiah, He then peeled back the veil completely on what earthly marriage fully points to.  

God’s hand has been so amazingly clear in our relationship from beginning to end.  For that, we praise Him! He has brought us together now in marriage so that I as your husband may seek in every interactions to help get you ready for eternity by pointing you to Christ.  To that end, we must lift our eyes from the earthly plane to something far greater.

And so today my love, we step onto a broad stage of celestial proportions.  Our marriage speaks not just to the world around us, but also to the heavenly realms.  My part as groom is to imitate the selfless ferocity of our Savior’s eternal love. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Eph. 5:25)

I am called to channel my Savior’s love. I must love like Him who left heavenly glory and riches for earthly poverty and depravity; angels’ adoration for humanity’s hatred; the kingly throne for a stable’s manger; the Creator’s power for suffering and death at the hands of mere mortals; the Father’s favor for all humanity’s earned judgement.  Each selfless act of His love tells the story of true love.

I am not your Savior though.  I cannot be. I will sign a covenant with you in ink.  Christ has signed one in His precious blood. I would die for you.  Christ already has. I seek to love you perfectly. He has done so and always will.

And so, our hope is not in each other, but in God and His infinite grace.  Our marriage is not the ultimate reality nor the culmination of life’s great search.  It merely points to it. Our marriage is far too earthly and temporal to bear that kind of burden.

Instead, this wedding day, with all its delight, faintly echoes the approaching day, when we will wake from this world as from a turbulent slumber.  A day when sin’s spell will be broken, the curse on creation shattered, and we will behold our Bridegroom face to face.

And so … for that day, we wait some more, just as we awaited this precious day.  In that waiting as husband and wife, our marriage will, like the rest of creation, groan with the curse of sin.  Though our longing for earthly marriage will be fulfilled, we still have a greater longing for the shadows to flee away in light of the true and forever, Happily Ever After!  We must do battle together in the meantime waging war with each other against our flesh, not against each other. Through that combined struggle, our marriage covenant will shine forth through the darkness, foretelling the coming of an ultimate light.  

My dearest and most precious Anna, today, we step into a marriage that is far greater than us.  That thrills my soul knowing that is your heartbeat as well. I can’t wait to marry you! May God get all the glory for what He has done!

A Year Worth Reflecting On

As today approached as the one year anniversary of Sarah’s homegoing, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on all that has transpired since then.  Somebody once said that funerals should compel us to ponder our own mortality and evaluate not only the days we’ve lived – but also the time we have left.  In that way, my reflection on today continues to be a gift that keeps on giving for its powerful ongoing impact in my life. I prayed then as I continue now that I would not forget the things that I have learned.  

Solomon also wrote about the importance of being reminded of death in Ecclesiastes 7:2 where he says the countercultural concept that it is better to go to a funeral than a party because the wise person will be reminded that “this is the end of all mankind” and will live in light of the brevity of life.  When people hear my story now who didn’t know me or Sarah before, the one comment frequently heard among most of them is “oh, she was so young.” Yet even in that statement is the ultimate undergirding reality that everyone is expected to die, just not yet.

So why is it that most of us, myself included even a few times this year, forget to live in light of the fundamental fact that for each of us here, our time on earth is finite?  A big part is that we are forgetful. We get distracted by the busyness of life and that naturally, and often by necessity, forces our focus to be on the short-term, the present.  Throughout the entire Bible, God is constantly giving commands and instructing His people to remember through intentional actions and tangible reminders. He told us that because we are prone to forget.  I am prone to forget. Even on a day like today laden with meaning, I still have to be intentional to stop and take time to reflect and think.

When I think about Sarah, I rejoice knowing she is experiencing the glorious joy of unity with her Savior, freed from the curse of sin and the pain of this world.  In a good way, that makes me jealous to one day also experience that. That too then reminds me to focus on today and live in light of eternity. To better invest in my walk with God, my relationships with family and friends, and to remember that my days on earth are limited as well.  



Today is also a day of rejoicing for another reason as it is my parents’ 35th wedding anniversary!  Their testimony of faithfulness and enduring love over the years speaks to the grace of God and the hard work they’ve put in to not only stay married this long, but to deepen their love.  I’ve been teasing them a little bit this year that they’re acting a bit like newlyweds as they’re now in the phase of no longer taking of either their children (having all left home now) or their parents (as all my grandparents are now deceased).  For those with a spouse, each day together is a gift to be treasured. Whether that is the five years that Sarah and I shared or the thirty-five that my parents have been blessed with, never take it for granted. Invest in each other with eternity in mind in preparation for the ultimate marriage of Christ to His bride, the Church!


The best part of today though is the steady comfort, encouragement, and loving ear that Anna has been for me both in the days leading up to today, but also in the moments of emotion throughout.  God’s gift to me in bringing Anna in my life staggers my imagination still because she is exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it. She is the glue that has filled in all the cracks of my heart making it better and stronger than it was before!  

As I expectantly and excitedly look ahead to our upcoming wedding this November, I realize both the amazing joy and the solemn responsibility it will bring.  Having been married before, this was a step I do not take lightly in full recognition of the depth of wedding vows: “for better or worse, in sickness, until death.”  Those need not be sad things though they are heavy concepts. Indeed, for Christ’s example is as a husband who will never, ever forsake His bride, the Church. In that way it is inspiring and transformative!  

I wrote at length in the story of how God brought Anna and I together this year the beautiful and creative way that He worked, and I see that ever more clearly day by day with her.  On a day like today when I could otherwise be overcome with grief thinking of the future, I instead feel the upwelling of joy that comes from imagining the future life that Anna and I will share together!  God has turned my mourning into joy and given both peace and hope beyond measure! I could never have imagined all that has transpired this past year culminating in the beautiful and thrilling next chapter with Anna, and so in yet another countless way, I see and trust in God’s hand at work!

“But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7–12

God’s Creative and Beautiful Plan

The story of how God brought Anna and Daniel together displays the beautiful creativity of God’s love and sovereignty.  As Christians, we believe that God is sovereignly in control of everything, but sometimes His perfect will and plan become especially clear in a beautifully evident and creative way.  This journey illustrates that truth in a special way.

When we think of how relationships happen and two people knit their hearts together, we often quickly realize how we didn’t do it.  In fact, we couldn’t have done it.  We’re simply not that powerful nor certainly that wise.  Sometimes in light of hindsight we can fool ourselves for a bit thinking that it was all our initiative and making things come together, but in truth it wasn’t.   Each one of every relationship and marital story is all about the perfect will and awesome wisdom of Another, and because of that our perspective and understanding of marriage changes forever.

Ultimately all marriages are all built to end, so I am thankful for how those lessons have been so seared into my consciousness now.   Our culture and flesh scream to us that superlative joy must be found now, for that is all we know.  But Scripture is clear that, for the people of God, our future in eternity will be better in every possible way.  Our bodies will be transformed (1 Cor. 15:35–56); all pain and sorrow and death will be taken away (Rev. 21:4).  We will no longer see dimly but will encounter the presence of God in the face of His Son forever.  Our highest good is future, not now.   All joys, pleasures, intimate relationships—or sorrows, hurts, and relational disarray—of this age are not ultimate.  Earthly marriage is a shadow, a copy, a type of the ultimate marriage: that of Christ to His entire church (Eph. 5:32; cf. Mark 9:15).  Indeed, eternity’s defining reality is a marriage between the “bride” (the redeemed) and Christ (Rev. 19:7; 21:2, 9; 22:7).

Earthly marriage isn’t designed to last forever, then, but to give way to the marriage of the redeemed to the Lamb.  In the marital relationship, the chief aim of both spouses is that submission, sacrificial love, respect, repentance, and comfort be directed toward that future age—toward cultivating conformity to the image of Christ, our true (in the fullest sense) Bridegroom.  As Paul writes, Christ is sanctifying his bride so she might be presented to him, and “in the same way husbands should love their wives” (Eph. 5:25–28). By the Spirit, spouses love each other now to prepare for handing each other over to Christ then.

John Piper writes in This Momentary Marriage that “being married in the moment of death is both a bitter and sweet providence.  Sweet because at the precipice of eternity the air is crystal-clear, and you see more plainly than ever the precious things that really matter about your imperfect lover.  But being married at death is also bitter, because the suffering is doubled as one watches the other die… The shadow of covenant-keeping between husband and wife gives way to the reality of covenant-keeping between Christ and His glorified Church.  Nothing is lost. The music of every pleasure is transposed into an infinitely higher key.”

As I have taken much time to reflect, pray, and write in the months since Sarah’s death, I realize ever more how true those words are, especially as they relate to the transcendent nature of Christ and His Bride, the Church.  That desire for marriage ultimately points to our relationship as Christians with our Savior.  When we consider marriage and the unwanted singleness that Anna and I have both faced in our own ways, we do so under the shadow of that fundamental relationship.

As a widower, the journey to this place is forever impacted by all that transpired last year during what would turn out to be Sarah’s final months.  I am especially thankful for the many sweet conversations Sarah and I shared in her final weeks where she urged me to seek a wife when I felt ready.  In the months that followed, I worked through my grief looking back at the past while also wrestling with the what-ifs of the future.  After many months of prayer, self-reflection and journaling, seeking wise counsel from Godly counselors in my life as well as other widowed spouses who have walked this road before, I felt ready in late March to begin down this path.  One of the primary ways I knew I was ready to take this step was that I wanted to be the one that ministers to her (whomever that was), not just to have someone minister to me.  I realized that by God’s enabling grace I was ready to selflessly lead a relationship and seek to share my life with another – ultimately for the purpose of evaluating marriage.

As I discussed these things with my parents and family members, my pastor, other widowed spouses who had remarried, wise counselors, and close Godly friends, they were all in support of me taking this next step.  Thus led to the unique and clearly God-ordained way I was introduced to Anna.



The journey through a lengthy ten year season of singlehood did not come without its challenges, hurts and pain.  I will be the first to say, that by God’s abundant grace, He has carried me through and has been faithful through every season, despite my doubt and distrust in Him.  “My plan” all along has been to “find a guy,” move back to Maine and raise a family close to my parents and serve alongside them in the ministry that they have up there.  Watching friend after dear friend pair up and marry always came with mixed emotions.  Overjoyed at the thought of them “not” having to experience where I was, but also pain as it was a constant reminder to me of what I did not yet have.  The solution for me, through these single years, has been to pour myself into ministry.  Staying busy for the sake of the gospel, enabled me to stay others focused and not be selfish-minded.  I’m not exactly sure what it was, but last fall, I hit a wall and was discouraged in a way that I had not yet been before.  

Following some friends’ advice I “put myself out there” and entered the dating world.  It was full of discouragement and stress.  In having a desire to be married, I also had very strong convictions of meeting someone that shared the same faith and ministry philosophy that I did.  And let me tell ya, these type of single guys, simply did NOT exist where I was looking.  I had a dear friend prayerfully encourage me and after several months and many failed attempts of messaging, talking and meeting guys, I once again surrendered the concept of “dating” to the Lord on April 4th, 2018 and pulled back.  I had wasted far too many emotions, time and energy on something that did not provide anything in return.  God had so blessed me taking care of my sweet precious boys at work, a loving church family and ministry, as well as a biological family that had my back.  It was time to regroup and refocus on what I did have and what was in my present!

The peace and joy I had after “letting go” and surrendering, that which I so desperately wanted, was such a relief, but it was short lived.  That Saturday, just a few days later on April 6th, I received a phone call from my parents in Maine with the devastating news that my dad was resigning his pastorate position following a faithful God-blessed 14 year ministry.  Their world was crumbling in around them and although we mentally trusted God’s plan, the pain and hurt that comes from people not loving and obeying the Lord is sometimes too hard to bear.  The pain my parents were experiencing carried over to me, and I was left doubting yet again.  Hadn’t I just surrendered and had complete peace as to what God’s future plan was?  I could “handle” being single, but watching my parents endure pain that was out of my control was overwhelming.  That weekend I was a mess!  I was angry, bitter and full of confusion.  As I drudged through that Monday, I spent so much time praying and begging the Lord for peace and to take away the anger I was experiencing.  Little did I know, that God was already at work in some very specific ways and He was formulating a more perfect plan that I could never have imagined!



Earlier this year, I felt led to ask my cousins Joe and Kaytlynn if they might know of someone who they felt would be a potential good match for me.  I knew that I would need someone who had at least been connected with people I knew and trusted rather than just a total stranger.  To my surprise, they explained they had already thought of someone since last November, but had resolved they would only ever mention it should I directly ask them.  After hearing their enthusiastic endorsement of why they had thought of Anna for me, I was definitely intrigued and interested.

However, I asked them to make an introduction only after holding off for a little bit while I finished preparing for my sabbatical travels and went back to Indiana for my grandmother’s memorial service.  Little did I know though what was going on behind the scenes for Anna during this intervening time period.

I quickly realized how Anna and I shared a web of connection between dozens of mutual friends going back more than fourteen years that allowed people we both trusted completely to know each other separately and offer their valuable perspective.  Thanks to the large amount of connections, Anna had watched from a distance the journey that Sarah and I took in the last year of Sarah’s life. Anna’s family also had a unique history with grief, loss, and remarriage as Anna’s maternal grandparents both were widowed before meeting each other and God blessed them again with the birth of Anna’s mother.  The family was used to talking about Daddy Jim and Mommy Ann.  Each thing I learned about Anna made me even more interested to get to know her and so I sent her the first message asking to get to know her.



I woke up on April 10th (my dear friend Allison’s birthday) to a few messages, one of which was a rather lengthy email from Daniel expressing his interest in getting to know me more and seeing if a relationship was a possibility in our future!  What in the world?

Backing up now a few weeks, to the middle of March, I had received a message from a dear friend and trusted confidant Misha Frazor, saying I needed to talk to our mutual friend Kaytlynn Kopp, because Kaytlynn knew of “this guy” that she wanted me to meet.  I thanked her and gave permission to “feel free to pass along my information.”  At that time, I seriously didn’t think a thing of it.  (Over the past 10 years, I can’t even count the number of well meaning friends that have suggested “guys” to me, but never mentioned me to the guys.  And I’m not one to go chase down a guy….)  A few days passed by, and I received another message, this time directly from Kaytlynn.  Kaytlynn and her husband Joe, have been very dear friends of mine for over 10 years.  We all went through college together and ministered for many summers together at the same junior camp in northern Wisconsin.  Although much of our friendship has been long-distance in recent years, the bond was never severed!  Once again, I gave Kaytlynn permission to pass along my information and I asked her for details about “the guy”, just so I could have a reference point.  She was so sweet and responded with a “brief history” but no name.  No name was needed though as enough info had been shared for me to put the pieces together and figure out who it was: Daniel Kopp — Joe’s cousin, and brother to another friend of mine, Stephen Kopp.  Daniel’s reputation preceded him, and I was immediately put at ease as to who the “mystery guy” was.  2017 brought Daniel through the valley of the shadow of death, and by God’s pure grace, Daniel had been able to share with others, through his writing, what God had allowed as his wife became severely ill and ultimately passed through the gates of glory.  Daniel was a widower, and I had followed that devastating journey knowing it was Joe’s cousin and Stephens brother, never knowing how that journey would personally affect me later.

The passage I would like to share at this point is Jeremiah 29:11-14a. “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you declares the Lord…”  Being the eldest in my family, and a planner by nature, living the single life has had its ups and downs.  Something that has always kept me grounded, has been trusting that God is a wayyyyyyyy better planner and organizer than I could ever be.  Remember “my plan” that I mentioned earlier?  The BEST plans I could ever have come up with are nothing in comparison to God’s goodness and perfect plan for our lives.  Our Heavenly Father loves us more than we could ever imagine even to the point of sending His own Son to die in our place, so that we could spend eternity with Him.  So if my God, could plan my life and know the plans for my future, who am I to doubt and sulk in my human flesh when “things don’t go my way?”

So April 10th, Daniel emailed me and we began corresponding.  Those initial emails were quite lengthy and full of deep topics.  They required much thought and careful wording as we were not only keeping our hearts guarded, but also prayerfully navigating an unconventional relationship.  Daniel was pushing through the fog of being a widower and a new phase of life.  I was cautiously optimistic but unsure of what this relationship possibility would look like.  Those initial few weeks allowed not only our hearts to be opened to newness, but also aligned by God’s grace.  Those emails quickly turned into lengthy phone calls and our communication increased week by week.  Daniel calmed my anxious heart and spoke truth to me as I continued to navigate the trial my parents were experiencing.  The pain Daniel had experienced at such a young age, in losing his wife Sarah, was something that can leave anyone unsure of how to proceed in life.  By God’s enabling grace He allowed me to be the listening ear and comforter that Daniel needed as he navigated this new relationship.

Daniel, having just endured life changing circumstances, was also beginning a new phase in his life.  He ended his career in the Air Force, bought an RV and a truck and set out on a mid-career sabbatical.  The planning of this transition and trip had taken place years ago, and setting out on this journey was a perfect transition as he sought the Lord for what he should do next.  He was also working on a second masters degree and making plans to begin his own financial planning firm, and so I entered his life and became part of the mix.


As we communicated long-distance at first, we realized the hundreds of small and precious ways Anna and I have lived separate but parallel lives for a long time.  We realized that although we had never met until this year, Anna and I were high school classmates in same exact BJU LINC (long distance home education) satellite classes such as physics, chemistry, and Spanish.  Our younger brothers were also very good friends in college and Anna’s brother Ryan even introduced my brother Stephen to his wife Jess for the very first time.

As I began my sabbatical travels this year, one of the first stops I had planned all the way back in last year was to spend over a month in New England, which God had sovereignly orchestrated so that I was within a short drive from where Anna lives in Boston.  This time allowed us to spend over a month together in person confirming all that we had begun to see already in our long distance communication.  Anna’s parents lived only a short distance away in Maine and many of her extended family lived close by in Connecticut which allowed us to have wise accountability of people that loved and cared about her from the beginning.  My parents also were able to adjust their travel itinerary to come and spend a weekend together with Anna and I as well, lending their invaluable counsel.



The first big stop on Daniels sabbatical just so happened to be in Connecticut so that he could visit his dear friends, the Boyette family.  This month-long stop had been planned and booked many months prior to Daniel knowing about me. So we love to think how God had orchestrated this and had gone before us.  The campground in CT where Daniel stayed was only an hour and a half away from where I live, and only 20 minutes from my extended family in CT.

And so, after 5 weeks of emails, and talking for hours on the phone, Daniel came to Boston for a weekend visit and we officially began dating.  Our first date was at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.  We then walked through Cambridge in the rain and sat for hours in a local coffee shop!  We finished that day off with dinner at my favorite Sushi place.  It was dreamy!  The following day we went to church together with my parents and then made plans for the following weekend.  We also made plans for me to come visit Daniel in Salt Lake City, in July.  I had always wanted to visit SLC as I have many dear precious friends that live there as well as a ministry I have watched and admired from afar for years.  Daniel’s extended family are all part of that group and are all old camp friends of mine, so naturally I was eager to make plans for a visit.  As the Lord would have it, the exact week that Daniel suggested for me to visit, I “just so happened” to already have it off, because the sweet family I work for, had planned their own vacation that week.  Totally a God thing and only one of many many things that God has done in our relationship!

The next weekend I was able to have a few extra days off and came to Connecticut to stay with Ma (my beloved grandma).  The rest of my family was also congregating for the Memorial holiday weekend so it was a win win.  Daniel and I spent all of Friday together.  We walked and talked, talked and walked, sat and had a picnic, and really covered about every topic we hadn’t yet covered.  Daniel allowed me to have complete peace and be more comfortable than I ever imagined I could be with a guy.  He not only agreed with the “ministry philosophy” I held to, but was already living out the same gospel centered life that was so important to me.  Our connection was deep and the alignment of our hearts happened in a way I had never thought was even possible.  We spent the rest of the weekend building on that day and enjoyed amazing visits with his friends and my extended family.  

The third weekend brought us to my “stomping grounds” on the Maine coast, visiting my parents, meeting my brother Ryan and some dear friends.  Our relationship had quickly grown and by the end of that weekend we shared our love for each other.  It was determined that it was time to meet Daniel’s parents.  He to thoughtfully arranged a visit for them to Boston so we had a perfect weekend touring Boston together and I fell in love with Mike and Karen as quickly as I had with Daniel.  After 4 glorious long weekends together in person, it was time to say goodbye for 6 long weeks!

I’m overwhelmed by the goodness of God and His blessing me with this amazing man following years of singleness.  With the overwhelming excitement of what was in our future, I was also wrestling with the fact that someone dear and precious had passed away.  Sarah is with the Lord and I am now in this position with Daniel.  It’s heavy and it’s personal.  It’s something that we will be working through, possibly for years to come.  But by the perfect grace of God, He has enabled both of us to be at this place by clearly leading us in His perfect timing.  My years of singleness were in place by the Lord, to have me ready for meeting Daniel at this moment in time.  There isn’t a rule book written for this kind of situation, but something we are so grateful for is the complete comfort and transparency we have had in every aspect of our communication from the very beginning.  We are both able to be very vulnerable and open about what has happened, and although there are many memories to sort through, and numerous emotions to navigate, we both have understanding of God’s perfect blessing and unmeasured love by bringing us together at such a time as this.



As we began our communication, we were intentional in guarding our hearts and expectations through frequent conversations about where we are at in this stage and intentionally seeking to not get ahead of ourselves.  We also sought to cultivate independence from each other in that we were not becoming more absorbed into a relationship than our still separate lives at this point.  Anna and I were thankful for the opportunity of writing back and forth to develop many levels of healthy communication along with phone calls and Facetime chats.  

Now that I was leaving New England to continue my sabbatical travels, Anna and I faced the challenges of a long distance relationship, yet we also realized it provided an opportunity to grow and develop communication habits that the context of always being together often do not have.  But in this too, we sought to avoid the potential trap that we would become enmeshed in a “bubble” that lacks the support of a community of perspectives so we were intentional in those ways continuing to bring in family and friends to help provide critical outside perspective as well.

Earlier this year, I had sat down with my pastor to get his counsel and wisdom as I wrestled with the seeming contradiction of my ongoing grief coupled with my desire to again be married.  As we sat, talked, and prayed through everything I was thinking through he provided a piece of invaluable wisdom. He recommended that I go and write down a list of everything that would be important for me in a future spouse so that I would have something concrete to refer back to should the time come and be an anchor against the waves of emotion.  I had never actually made a true “what she must be” list ever before, but I saw the wisdom in my unique circumstances so over the course of a few weeks with much prayer and consideration, I wrote everything down so that when I was finished it was over two pages long. I began praying over these things and for the Lord to lead me to my future spouse in His perfect way and timing.

As Anna and I communicated through writing, phone calls, my long visit in New England, and in the weeks of our long distance time apart, it became crystal clear that she met and exceeded every single thing I had written down earlier this year!  The fascinating part of this whole discover process as we grew in our knowledge of each other was how naturally each part was revealed to me. Our easy rapport and complete peace at being with one another only added to the joy of seeing how God had answered every prayer as I sought this step.  Time would also fail for me to share each and every specific circumstance how God worked in our lives separately when we came together to discuss the what-ifs of the future with the exact same thoughts and plans. God has gone before and custom-designed Anna for me at this unique and perfect stage of life.

Having now seen the full confirmation for myself that this was the woman I wanted to marry, I sought and received the full and enthusiastic blessing of her parents as well as mine.  Indeed, our entire extended families gave their emphatic support for our relationship and desire for marriage! As I looked ahead to our visit together in Salt Lake City, I made preparations getting a ring ready and conspiring to make the entire visit special including most especially the proposal!


The six weeks of long distance dating was difficult but also very special.  We were able to have uplifting conversations, and learn more and more about each other without the physical distraction of being close in proximity.  I also had an extremely busy month through July helping with a friend’s wedding and being a sponsor for my church’s teen missions trip. This involved many late nights, early mornings and lots of energy in addition to nannying full time all throughout.  July 21 finally came along with the trip to Utah.  I was so excited I couldn’t even sleep!  I could NOT wait to see Daniel again!

Upon arrival in Salt Lake, Daniel picked me up from the airport and we spent the day catching up!  Oh how “right” it was to be beside him again.  We met our dear friends Josh and Kathy Clum, whom I was staying with, and had dinner at an amazing Indian restaurant!  Sunday morning we went to Gospel Grace Church and thoroughly enjoyed worshipping together with so many precious friends and family members.  We then enjoyed lunch with Jon and Beth Kopp’s family before heading north to visit Joe and Kaytlynn that evening.  They were after all, the dream team behind our relationship and we were eager to thank them in person and spend time with their sweet family.

Our Engagement!    

God had so clearly led us both through valleys and had brought us to the place where we knew the next step was marriage.  I had given Daniel some ideas about what I liked in a ring and showed him my Pinterest board (that I scrambled to put together only after he asked) so he knew what I was leaning towards, but I had left the design and plan completely up to Daniel.  I wanted to be surprised, and I had determined I wasn’t going to ask any questions that would possibly give me a hint as to if or when it would happen.  Although I suspected it would happen in Salt Lake, I wasn’t completely positive if he even had a ring finished yet, so I had no expectations.  I was completely at peace with where our relationship was and I knew we were headed towards marriage (we had already picked a date), so I was just thankful to be with Daniel regardless of what happened during our visit.  

On Monday morning July 23rd, Daniel picked me up and we went to meet Joe and their boys for a day of hiking on Antelope Island.  This island was on the Great Salt Lake, was inhabited by wild buffalo and pronghorn antelope — both firsts for me to see in the wild!  It was so much fun!  The views were spectacular and were a completely different kind of beauty in comparison to my New England Coast perfection.  Following a fun filled day of hiking and sight-seeing, we picked up some pizzas and went back to Joe and Kaytlynn’s house for the evening.  We all managed to freshen up and after dinner it was suggested that we all take a family walk to help the little boys burn off their excess energy.  As we walked out the door, Daniel said he needed to make a “quick phone call” and would catch right up to us.  I didn’t think one single thing of it and proceeded out the door.  Daniel quickly caught up and we all walked to a local playground for the boys to play.  Once we reached the playground, Daniel took my hand and asked if we could go on a walk for “some alone time” after being with his sweet cousins all day.  So I eagerly agreed and we walked around their sub-division.  We started recounting many memories, blessings and what God had done in bringing us together. (I still had no clue folks…)

Once we reached Joe and Kaytlynns house again, he asked if we could pop in for a minute because he had “another gift” for me.  My birthday had been the week prior, and Daniel had soooo sweetly been spacing out birthday gifts.  Once again, I didn’t have a clue, until we walked through the door.  Inside the front door, was a path created from printed emails and all the pictures we had taken since we first met.  I finally figured it out!  I instantly got goosebumps and started to tear up a little.  Was this really happening?  What I didn’t know, was that when Daniel first emailed me, back in April, he had done it right there on the couch in Joe and Kaytlynn’s living room during his visit.  And so, the pathway of printed memories led directly to the spot where it all began.  Daniel had strategically placed the ring in one of the cushions and pulled it out.  He got down on one knee and proposed.  I remember eagerly saying “Yes” but as he went on with the most perfect of proposals, I was completely lost in his eyes and he had to eventually ask “well, do you like it?” (in regards to the ring)  I had not yet even looked at the ring.  But my oh my, I was totally blown away!  He did well folks!  I’m completely overwhelmed and in love with this sweet man that God has given to me!

What’s Next

So that’s our story!  But it’s only the beginning.  Yes, wedding planning is in full swing, but also and more importantly is our preparation for marriage.  We covet your prayers as we navigate this new and exciting season.  Daniel is finishing up the remainder of his sabbatical as he prepares for launching his financial planning firm later this fall.  I am thoroughly enjoying a calmer month of summer with my two precious boys and am soaking up every moment with them.  When I have moments here and there, I am in full time wedding planning mode. 

Come September, Daniel and I will be taking another trip together to visit family in South Carolina and Florida.  Once back from that trip, I will be teaching preschool again a few mornings a week while continuing to nanny through the year.  Daniel will be moving to my neck of the woods mid-October to prepare for the wedding and we plan on remaining in the Boston area for at least a year while we navigate what the Lord may have for us later down the road. Thank you all so much for your love and support!  We couldn’t be more excited and grateful for the future!  

Ten Promises for Every Pain

1:  Knowing Jesus outweighs everything you could have or lose in this life.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him. — Philippians 3:8–9

2:  Every trial is helping to prove the genuineness of your faith and joy.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. —  1 Peter 1:6–7

3:  All your pain is preparing you to care for others in their pain.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. — 2 Corinthians 1:3–4

4:  Over time, suffering will fuel, not hurt, your hope and joy.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. — Romans 5:3–5

5:  No suffering can steal what Jesus bought for you.

You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. — Hebrews 10:34b

6:  Jesus never gets weary of caring for the wearied.

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

7:  Suffering will give you faith and strength to endure to the end.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. — James 1:2–4

8:  God will pour out His infinite riches to meet your daily needs.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:19

9:  Not one ounce of your pain is meaningless but is producing eternal glory for you.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:16–18

10:  All of your suffering will end one day, down to the very last year.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” — Revelation 21:4


While this list is not original to me, I wanted to share the compilation from some things I have been reading over the past few months in hope it will also be a blessing to you.

Quiet Pain of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a beautiful time of celebrating incredible mothers and their innumerable sacrifices on behalf of their families and I’m so thankful for my mother’s indescribable impact on my life!  Yet, it is also a day of quiet pain and heartfelt longing for all those women who desire to be mothers yet due to the struggles of infertility, losses through miscarriage, or unwanted singleness, their prayers and desires have not been answered.  God in His infinite goodness and love sovereignly charts a different path for these women as His Word makes it explicitly clear in many passages how He is in absolute control of each womb. (Gen. 18:14, 29:31, 1 Sam. 1, etc)  As I’ve written before, these are the challenges that are a goad for us to recognize our finiteness (Eccl. 3:13-14) and turn in humble dependence to our God who loves us more than we can ever truly understand.  Though His ways are often inscrutable, His character is not! (Eph. 1)

Sarah never got to meet our 3 children this side of eternity and so in that way, this day was fraught with a mixture of emotions in our marriage – confident hope to see them one day in heaven yet tinged with the sorrow of our loss.  While I can barely imagine what Sarah’s entrance into heaven was like, I take great joy in thinking about the moment she got to meet our children!

To the women who long with expectant hope on this Mother’s Day, while I do not know your exact pain, I do know what deep pain, sorrow, and loss are like.  But even more than that, I know the God who has met me in that agony with all the grace and peace I would ever need. (2 Cor. 12:9-10)  Cry out to the Lord with the inexpressible groanings, prayers, and tears (Rom. 8:26) of your heart, and then seek to make Him the supreme treasure of your heart.  In your trial and struggle, you can now go forth to minister to and comfort others (2 Cor. 1:4) with the comfort God gives you and in so doing to help bear one another burdens and show the love of Christ!

The Beautiful Pain of Remembrance

Beautiful Pain of Remembrance

From time to time, I will share memories from the past as a way to preach truth to myself and each of you in the present.  Just like the frequent commands to the nation of Israel throughout the Old Testament to set up ways to remember the past works of God, we too are prone to forget how forgetful we are.  That is why it is important to often look back  and see God’s sustaining grace carrying us all the way through.  That remembering may sometimes bring about the beautiful pain of remembrance,  but its redeeming effect is to ultimately turn our focus from the temporal to the transcendent.

How could I not but share this memory from Sarah’s journal one year ago today!  Our God is so very, very good to allow her words then to live on in their impact now.

“Today is 1 month since I had emergency surgery in the middle of the night…after having spent 9 days in the hospital in almost uncontrollable pain – unable to eat or drink, on so many IV medications I lost count…and then after all that, I was told I needed surgery or I could very likely die of septic shock.

This has been both the shortest and longest month of my life.

All of this came after over a year of battling extreme hormonal deficiencies and feeling like my body was failing in every way.

It came after 4 years of desiring to be parents and instead having God choose in His wisdom (that we may not always understand – but can trust fully) to take our 3 children straight from my womb to Heaven, instead.

While I laid in my hospital bed I would often hear the lullaby music they play when a baby is born. I remember fighting back tears and thinking “I’m 31 years old…I should be here having a baby, not battling a perforated ulcer”.

But really – it doesn’t work that way. God has a different plan for all of us, and He uses suffering and trials to grow us. I don’t “deserve” anything, but He has given me everything in salvation.

Thankfully, that pity party didn’t last long as the Holy Spirit continually reminded me of God’s perfect love for me, His perfect sovereignty, and His perfect timing in *all things*. He’s not done with me, or with our family. We know He has a plan. I don’t know what my health will be long term. I’m always going to battle the hormonal issues, but God has given us so much hope that if He’s given us a love for children, He will add to our family through adoption, and equip us to be able to care for a child/children….and He may choose to give us a biological child too – He can do whatever He desires to do…and whatever He does, will be perfect.

Recovery is difficult, I have good hours, and then I maybe do too much (which isn’t a lot) and will feel pretty miserable for a few hours. My legs and feet are still miserably swollen and the doctor says it will get better with time…which is hard to hear when you want it to be resolved immediately.

Well, I guess I said all that in order to share that this article spoke to my heart so strongly, and I honestly feel like I could have written so much of it.

If you want to understand where I’m at in my heart/emotions/thoughts/struggles/spirit/etc – her words sum it all up quite well.

Again, I never want to miss an opportunity to thank all of you who are praying so faithfully for us. We are so thankful for each one of you  …and thankful to God for so many answered prayers and His overwhelming provision and peace during this entire time.”

Have You Felt Forsaken by God?

Resurrection Sunday Reflections

It’s amazing even how my perspective on Christ’s death and resurrection is so much more real to me this year than ever before! How I long for the day when we too will conquer death – because HE LIVES! I have known deep pain, yet even all that cannot compare with the crushing affliction my Savior bore for me. His love is stronger than any pain as the God of all comfort, but also comes from the heart of the Man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief.

Flashback to some of what I said in Sarah’s Celebration of Live service. It’s even more true to me today. This is the full impact of what we celebrate today – the resurrection changes everything!

Trials often shake people’s’ belief that God is all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing, and all-sufficient. Yet, I know each of those to more real today than ever before. Paul said in 1 Cor. 15 that if Christ is not risen then our faith is in vain and we as Christians ought to be pitied. However, Christ has risen again so we have absolute assurance of His promises of our eternal home and our own resurrection one day. As Christians we can view death very differently. 2 Cor. 5:8 reminds us that when our soul departs our body it is present with the Lord. Because God saved Sarah from her sins, she faced death confidently knowing that her citizenship was in heaven where she now is with her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil 3:20) 1 Peter 1:4 also describes it as “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for [her].”

“All this, because of the finished work of Christ we celebrate today. We have joy that transcends circumstances! Jesus does not promise only joy though. As we celebrate the resurrection, we also look to the gift we now have of the Holy Spirit. “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Take heart indeed! How can we not! Not only has He overcome the world — and hell and the devil and death — but He remains with us and in us like a mighty warrior against all our foes. “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

So, yes, there will be tribulation. Sorrows of so many kinds in this fallen world we can’t count them. But the world that makes us so sorrowful will not have the last word. Therefore, the watchword of the Christian in this world is “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). Through every grief, we are being kept by the power of the Helper. Therefore, “you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6).

You may be tempted to cry out, “Oh, that I could go back and see him as he was in the flesh!” But remember, you see more of him now by his Spirit in his word than the disciples did during his earthly life. And you will see him again. But not the way he was. His face will be “like the sun shining in full strength” (Revelation 1:16). Take heart from Peter’s words: “Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and glorified” (1 Peter 1:8–9). This is the joy that cannot be taken from you.” – John Piper

Preaching Truth to Ourselves in the Midst of Trials

Sometimes I feel a little selfish in that I’m primarily the one that gets to read and benefit from Sarah’s past journals and old Facebook posts – so I feel compelled to share from time to time! It was shortly after our move out west more than two years ago that Sarah’s health trials deepened and I became her full time caregiver assuming all of the household responsibilities as Sarah no longer physically could. She turned some of her attention then to journaling which I now get to read and consider how to use going forward.

I love what Sarah wrote in this post two years ago because behind these brave words was a woman who struggled greatly at times to believe and live them out. I had a front row seat to intimately watch as her body slowly faded away, yet by God’s grace her mind and spirit remained unbowed though greatly wearied. Hindsight can have a tendency to whitewash our past memories of the most painful elements and those on the outside can overlook or miss those realities in favor of a focus on the noble struggle. Sarah and I were both human replete with all the failures of us fallen image-bearers of God. I could tell you of the countless tears of anguish, crushing physical, emotional, and mental weariness, endless quest for answers that never fully came, the nights of depression where the darkness did not lift in the morning, the slow but steady loss of independence as Sarah became mostly homebound, and the shadowy fade of hopes and dreams for the future. So consider that context when Sarah wrote what she did.

Sarah’s life verse was Galatians 2:20 which she quoted here. She preached truth to herself asking God to give her the faith to live it out. Sarah looked ahead in faith to the day she had no idea was coming as soon as it did when her faith would become sight: “I’m thankful that someday, He will take me to Heaven and I will spend eternity face to face with my risen Savior, praising Him, with a perfect body, and there will be no more suffering or sorrow – that is ultimately where I place my hope and longing.”

If I sound endlessly repetitive on this one point about preaching truth to ourselves, it’s because that is what made all the difference. Our volatile feelings, frail emotions, and finite understanding ought not be the basis on which we live our lives. However, the cacophony of those voices threatens to overwhelm us along with the world all around us. Each of those is preaching a worldview to us, and the vast majority are diametrically opposed to the truth of God’s Word. If you aren’t daily reading, meditating, and memorizing Scripture, how can you hope to hold back the tide of wrong thinking? May I also encourage you to journal and write down your own thoughts on what you’re learning and going through. We are very forgetful people! I promise it will be a help to you when you go and look back, and just might be able to be a help to others too even after you are gone!

For those that keep telling me to write more, I hear you and am humbled to know that what I share is a blessing to others. I’m working on a few series to be published right now as I dip my toe into broader writing projects and am considering a book/booklet project over my sabbatical this summer.

“We’ve shared this with some of our family already, but thought I would share with our extended family and friends…

I have been really struggling physically the last few months, but we thought it was mainly the stress of moving. However, I have continued to decline health-wise. Last month, we found out my body was no longer processing my thyroid medication effectively — so not just a simple dosage increase needed, but my body is having difficulty actually utilizing/processing the hormones correctly – which means I have profound symptoms of hypothyroidism, really too many to list…but the worst would be extreme fatigue, constantly freezing-cold, very poor sleep, and getting sick constantly, among other significant issues.

Unfortunately, the healthcare provider I was seeing was not able to determine a solution. The Lord led me to a new doctor this week and he is very gifted with diagnosing and treating more complex hormonal-imbalance issues, which is what I am experiencing. Not only am I dealing with basically zero thyroid function/severe hypothyroidism, but I have several other hormone levels that are practically non-existent. He needs to do more extensive testing which will take a few weeks to get back, and then he will hopefully be able to start correcting what is going on.

While we are very thankful to our Heavenly Father for providing a competent doctor who feels confident he can help me – although it will take at least a couple of months before I might start feeling better since we have to wait for test results, then start treatment, and then wait for it to take effect.

Physically I am very weak and discouraged – so having to wait one more day, let alone multiple weeks, to start working towards feeling better, feels like forever. Please pray for myself and Daniel, that the Lord will continue to encourage our hearts, and strengthen me spiritually and physically, as we wait on Him to provide healing. Daniel has taken care of me in every way, and I am so thankful for his selfless, Christ-like love for me.

Our Heavenly Father has carried us through this all, and so much more in the past, and we know He is sanctifying us through this trial. We know His love and timing is perfect, and that we can trust Him completely with all of these circumstances, even when in our human frailty we don’t understand it all, we can still praise Him for His faithfulness, sovereignty, and wisdom.

We live in a fallen world, and physical suffering is a part of that. As Christians, God uses trials to draw us closer to Him, to purify us, and conform us to the image of His precious Son. I’m thankful that some day, He will take me to Heaven and I will spend eternity face to face with my risen Savior, praising Him, with a perfect body, and there will be no more suffering or sorrow – that is ultimately where I place my hope and longing. All because of what Christ did on the cross for me. If you do not have that assurance, or do not understand what Jesus accomplished on the cross, I would be happy to share with you what He has done in my life, and the hope that can be found in God’s word alone. Sorry this was so long! If you made it to the end – thank you for taking the time to read this, and for your prayers.”

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. -Galations 2:20

Pain and Affliction Are Merciful Gifts

Sarah candid

My daily prayer since Sarah passed away last year is that God would not let me forget the life-changing sanctifying things I have learned. He has been faithful in answering that through countless ways. Sometimes it has been when the walls of grief surrounded me threatening to blot out every ray of hope so I had only Him to turn to. Other times it is in the innumerable small joys of everyday life that I instinctively want to turn and share with her. Each moment like those is a gift because of how each one points me to eternal truths.

John Piper writes in “This Momentary Marriage” that “Being married in the moment of death is both a bitter and sweet providence. Sweet because at the precipice of eternity the air is crystal-clear, and you see more plainly than ever the precious things that really matter about your imperfect lover. But being married at death is also bitter, because the suffering is doubled as one watches the other die …. The shadow of covenant-keeping between husband and wife gives way to the reality of covenant-keeping between Christ and His glorified Church. Nothing is lost. The music of every pleasure is transposed into an infinitely higher key.”

Pain and affliction are merciful gifts from God though because of how they help refine me (James 1:2-4), remind me of transcendent eternal truths (Romans 8:18), and restore my wandering focus (Psalm 119:71). Every time I feel the pang of longing for marriage, I can rejoice even through my sorrow of loss! That emotion is calling my attention to the truth that this world isn’t my home. It’s reminding my heart of the greater promise hidden in marriage of the relationship between Christ and the church! Each sigh of desire is but a shimmery foretaste and fleeting glimpse of what we will all experience in eternity as the glorious Bride of Christ. In that longing I have for what Sarah and I shared in marriage is a far greater truth about the longing for Christians as a bride of Christ. In that search for oneness and intimacy between a husband and wife that includes such close friendship yet also transcends it, I have had just a small foretaste of the relationship with Christ I will one day experience perfectly.