Category Archives: Legacy

Posts that don’t fit a specific category that were posted Pre founding of Fit For a Widower


Thanks for your prayers. The meeting last week was fantastic! I received the acceptance packet from the school on Friday. I am impressed by their care and concern for each of my children and their educational success.

The elder three will attend class three days per week while Matt will only attend two days. That means I’ll have him all to myself on Mondays. I’m already looking forward to those days together. And I can already feel some of the weight lifted from my shoulders as well. Katie will be in full bore college selection mode next year. That would have all fallen on me. Now she’ll have expert assistance guiding her through the process. Yes!

I know the children are nervous about the new situation but I also know they’ll adjust and thrive. I’ve talked to them about how we’ve all had to deal with tremendous change the past two years. I’ve explained that this schooling change is different than what we’ve been used to, but that on the grand scale of change they’ve experienced, this is on the lower end.

Now pray for diligence as we press through to finish this year’s lessons by late-June before we head to California for a family camp at Mt Hermon.

B-Gone, B-9, B-Healed…Its a way of life!

The Interview

I heard from the school and my interview with the leadership team there to discuss how the children and our family fit (or not) will be this coming Tuesday morning at 8:15AM. I am relieved to have the meeting scheduled and am now looking forward to it. Please continue to lift up the entire application process and for continued understanding and grace.

Educational Change

“Well, one good thing about a Christian school is that the kids can’t have a potty mouth.” said Luke reassuringly. “…or they get kicked out.”

Matt pondered that statement and then produced this gem, “Well then I’m just going to say a bad word so they’ll send me home!”

“Nice.” I responded. “You’re not even enrolled. This is just a placement test to see where you might fit.”

Today was tough. The placement test proved to be more a gauntlet of emotions to navigate rather than a knowledge challenge. I think we all cried at some point during the day.

I have no idea how they performed, I just know it was stressful on them all and that pulled on my heart. Yet, this feels like the right direction to go. I’ve been exploring this school for a couple of months now and have received a green light at every turn. Today was the next step in the application process. Now I’m waiting for a call from the school to set up an interview to go over the tests. Its my turn for a knot in my gut.

But that means I want this to work out. It is a 2 or 3 day per week program (depending on the grade) and the rest of the lessons are completed at home. Plus we can still be involved in our homeschool co-op. Could I ask for anything better?

Pray for grace…From the school, from the children and for our family. I think this is an environment where they could all really blossom and continue to excel. Its obviously a huge change for us. But its one we need to make.

The Fellowship

“Welcome to Rivendell” proclaimed the road sign. Katie was bubbling with excitement and well, truth be told, so was I! Its no secret that we are fans of J.R.R.Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. So of course it was only natural that during our time in New Zealand we explored and toured many of the locations used in the making of the films. The country has embraced being cast as the backdrop for Middle Earth, Tolkien’s name for the land in which he set the stories. The ongoing release of The Hobbit as a three part film has only served to reinvigorate the identity.

In Wellington, home of WETA (the movies’ production headquarters), the airport featured giant sized sculptures of the characters Gollum and Gandalf. The Embassy Theater, where many of the premier’s have been held is draped in a large banner that proclaims “The Middle of MIddle Earth!”. Rivendell, the home of the elves, was filmed in a park on the northern outskirts of the city, while the famous shot of the four Hobbits scrambling off a tree-lined lane in the Shire was captured on the forested slopes of Mt. Victoria, an urban park in the heart of Wellington.

Meanwhile, the high country of the South Island was used extensively for many of the wilderness and mountain scenes in both the Hobbit and LOTR films. As fans of both the books and the movies we excitedly clambered up the slopes of Mt. Sunday, the rocky outcropping used for Edoras, the capital city of Rohan. We re-enacted several scenes in the expansive pasture used for the penultimate battle on the Pelennor Fields, our tour guide providing us with movie props and costumes. Katie and I even took a horse back tour deep into Paradise to see many locations used in not only LOTR and the Hobbit like Eisengard and Beorn’s house, but we also trotted by several iconic locales used in the Chronicles of Narnia films as well.

Part of what captured my heart in these stories is the tale of friendship and love woven throughout the books. In the opening book, The Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien pulls nine characters together who will serve, throughout the trilogy, as key figures in the battle against evil. There are two men, a dwarf, an elf, a wizard and four hobbits in the company that sets out from Rivendell. These nine companions are dubbed the “Fellowship of the Ring”.

Well as our little family of five exited the doors in the Christchurch airport to begin our NZ adventures we met up with our dear friends Steve and Mel Thawley and their precious children, Chester, age 6, and Verena, age 4. That of course makes nine travelers! Our own fellowship with which to explore Middle Earth, complete with four hobbit sized companions. How cool is that?!

As it turned out it was far more than cool. Our fellowship with Mel and Steve stretches all the way back to the summer of 2002 when they spent four months living in our home while we all worked at Wolf Mountain Camps. We formed a fast friendship as housemates, co-laboring together as we ministered to children and staff. We promised we’d return the favor someday and come visit their homeland. It look longer than hoped, and we were down a key member of the family, but we’d made it.

Our friendship immediately rekindled as we joined forces. They’d been part of the faithful prayer covering over Kristi and now our family as we’ve walked this path. When I enlisted their help in planning our itinerary I was hoping to spend some time at their house in order to catch up. About a month into our planning they informed me they were free to travel with us during our three week trek and were keen to introduce us to their family scattered across the islands. I was thrilled!

Chester immediately clicked in with Matt and Luke to provide a wonderful new buddy while Verena was amazing in her abilities to keep up with the older crew. I appreciated the time to share deeply with old friends and process through feelings and emotions of grief over our loss, joy in the present excitement of the trip and hope for a future full of vibrant life with my children.

Steve and Mel co-pastor a church in the town of Masterton. We were able to attend their year-end celebration service during the week we spent staying at their home. In our honor they decorated in a Western theme and invited us to play some bluegrass music and teach them an American folk dance. They even procured a quality 5-string banjo for me to play. We had packed the spoons so Matt could keep rhythm, and thus we made our international music debut with Katie accompanying Matt and me on the guitar. Luke and Megan sang as we powered through “Dark and Stormy Night” and “Old Jonah”. Then I played solo on stage while the children demonstrated the steps of the Patty Cake Polka to the sure-footed Kiwi congregation. A real American Hoedown, deep in the heart of the Wairarapa! (that’s the name of the fertile valley where Masterton is located.)

Its not often you get to dance at church but that gives you a flavor for the joy in their faith community. It was a highlight of our time together and a shining example that God’s best gifts are people. The Thawley family was another priceless treasure that the Father bestowed on my children and me. They enriched our experience, layering personal knowledge and cultural understanding on top of the amazing scenery to provide a rich context from which to appreciate the land and its people.

So when I say the fellowship was “Sweet As”, I’m utilizing a Kiwi idiom to express the fact that deeply interacting with others in the family of Christ is one of the highest forms of worship, full of joy and pleasing to not only the participants but also the Father himself.

Home Again, Home Again

The snoring emanating through the wall confirms I’ve successfully worn them out. Tomorrow morning we fly home to Texas…and we are READY to get home! We left November 23rd, six weeks ago and have traveled over 25,000 miles by just about every conceivable mode of transportation except motorcycle… 6×6 wheel drive vehicle in the high country of New Zealand, mountain biking the Rimutaka Range between Wellington and Masterton, cruising the Interislander ferry between the north and south islands, jet boating the Kawarau and Shotover rivers outside of Queenstown, NZ, winding through old growth beech forest on horseback in Paradise, NZ, exploring the four decks on the jet powered catamaran ride to the Agincourt Reef located 90 minutes from the coast of mainland Australia on the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef. But perhaps the best mode of transportation of all has been our own two feet.

Our fin-clad feet pushed us over, around and the through the reef. Our bare feet luxuriated in the sands of Tauranga, Cape Tribulation, and Trinity beaches. With long boards strapped on we’ve schussed down the slopes around Lake Tahoe. And when shod, we’ve traipsed, traversed, rambled, hiked, splashed, waded, balanced, jogged and yes, walked through some amazing places.

2013 was a hard year. The care-giving demands were extreme. Then, when Kristi died, the grief just piled on. So many changes, so many adjustments to life. I wanted to put a good end on the year and start 2014 off on a good note. I hope that as 2014 winds down we will be talking about all the good that happened here at the end, rather than the bad that filled so much of the year.

Through it all, I’ve stayed consistent in my training. I’m now facing my second full year of triathlon training and races and it has me nervous, but motivated and excited at the same time.

Here’s to going home, though. And here’s to a great 2014.

18 + 476 Surprise!

Katie was stunned…completely unsuspecting. “Gee there are a lot of people here for Bible study tonight.” She quipped as we rolled to a stop.

Megan delivered the perfect response, “Yep, more parents have been staying around to visit lately.”

And with that we hopped out of the car and sauntered to the front door. I squeezed the latch, pushed it open and let Katie step through first. The roar was deafening! Close to 60 friends and family were on hand to provide resounding culmination to her 16th birthday.

Thursday night was a block party dinner with neighbors that turned into a celebration of Katie and kicked off four days of birthday festivities. Friday night was our special daddy/daughter date and what an evening it turned out to be.

A friend loaned us his shiny, black, convertible BMW Z4 sports car. Katie’s jaw dropped when she stepped out and saw the surprise ride for the night. Dinner was elegant and then we cruised all the Austin hotspots with the top down… the smiles of enjoyment and contentment from my delightful daughter were priceless.

Saturday was “just” another birthday dinner for her, out with some friends while I was in Waco checking in for my race. But yesterday was the big day. When my dad and I returned to his house after the race, we met the children there and mom spoiled us with chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans and her famous chocolate pie (all at Katie’s request) for lunch. Of course this hungry post-race dad didn’t complain at all…just stuffed it in my face as fast as I could!

Katie ripped through her presents but the shocker was a brand new iPhone. She was hoping for it but I don’t think she was really expecting it. A true blessing to give good gifts to your children! She hung on my neck in thanks, shedding tears of gratitude for what felt like several minutes. A blessed moment.

And that was it…or so she thought. When “SURPRISE” was hollered by the collective voice of her friends she was flabbergasted…in the best way possible. She floated around the house, beaming but a bit dazed. THANK YOU to everyone who so thoroughly celebrated our precious daughter this week. You have blessed and encouraged this dad in his inner core.

Please keep us in prayer as we have a very busy eight days ahead of us:
Today, prep for flight to CA tomorrow.
Tomorrow: Flights and travel
Wed-Fri: Travel throughout N CA to see family. (revisit the mountain top location where I proposed to Kristi)
Sat-Sun: Travel to Mt Hermon in Santa Cruz mountains to attend staff reunion. (revisit the location where Kristi and I first met)
Sunday, August 4th: Reception for Kristi in Danville.
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Fly back to Texas.

The girls have minor head colds…I think I gave them what I had last week. The boys have been immune so far. Praying for good health this week as we embark on a celebration of Kristi.

I was dead dog tired last night…the race, the adrenaline of competition, the 3:50AM wake-up to get to the race, the birthday celebration, the surprise party…but it was a good, thankful tired, not a sorrowful tired. And that’s a good, surprising way to go to sleep.

B-Gone, B-9, B-Healed…its a way of life

18 + 305 Water Bug

“I’m nervous” she whispered. But down the ladder she climbed and then pushed off. Ironically it was the breast stroke that came first. 500 yards later she was done. A mix of freestyle, breast stroke and the kickboard. Not bad for her first time back in the water!

Kristi is a natural swimmer and watching her glide through the water again felt right.

Keep praying for increased flexibility on her right side. There is a bunch of scar tissue there that needs to loosen up. The swimming should help.

I’m also posting a photo of her in the kitchen holding up one of her veggie smoothies that she whips up now. Wanted y’all to all see how good she looks.

B-Gone, B-9, B-Healed!

18 + 1 The Call

Yesterday we’d been married 18 years plus 1 day (18+1) when we got the call no one wants to get. Yes Kristi has breast cancer. We don’t know any more than that. We go in today at 12:45PM, 18+2, to meet with the doctor and find out what’s next.

Thank you to the outpouring of support and love from our friends and family. We have meals organized through the weekend as far as I know from our neighbors.

I will post updates here as we know them.

Please join us in lifting up Kristi to our Father in prayer. We know He is a healer, we know he is good, we know he loves us and we plan to work with him to bring about every good thing in this situation. Faith is what we are standing on.