Tag Archives: love

Happy Birthday

I was surprised this evening as we celebrated my birthday quietly at my parents’ house. A knock on the door and a friend from church delivered this birthday cake for me. His daughter,

IMG_9050who had made it, delivered it with him. What a delightful surprise! Its the Ironman logo. What you can’t see is that on the right edge of the cake it says “Ironman” and on the other it says “Chattanooga”. How cool is that?

Friends and family carry you along the way on this journey of life. I know so many have prayed for me and for our family. So many have extended themselves to care for us. This was the latest example of the Father’s love expressed through His children. I am grateful… grateful to live among such excellent people. Last year I rode up a mountain on my bike. This year I took the day off training. I’ll be back at it tomorrow, sharpening up for the big race simulation on Saturday. But today was a day to savor being alive.

While this cake is a symbol of my racing goal for the year (Chattanooga Ironman, September 27th), it also puts a stamp on what it takes to keep living, keep loving and keep laughing. It takes an iron will. I will not back down in the face of loss. Oh yes, it hurts. Oh yes it claws at me. But I will overcome. I choose faith, hope and love. These three remain. They are the fertile soil that produces joy.

 

Down The Rabbit Hole – Three Years Later

While yesterday was a day of wonderful memories, today marks three years from the day we received Kristi’s breast cancer diagnosis. I remember the phone call vividly. The solemn monotone of the doctor, the look in Kristi’s eyes, the immediate tightness in my gut. Here’s the post about that day. My first post.

I’m encouraged as I read that post that even on day one I was looking to work with my Father above to bring about good in the situation. Boy has that turned out differently than I thought, planned or desired.

I didn’t realize it then, but grief arrived that very day. I didn’t know it was grief, but it was. We were planning to go out on an anniversary dinner, eighteen years plus one day late. Since we already had the children looked after we went to dinner anyway, just so we could process the news. It was a miserable affair. Without knowing anything about how serious her fight would become, that phone call ripped joy and peace right out from under us. We sat and stared at each other, pushing our food around our plates, appetites gone. We mumbled to each other, our breath too weak to form words properly. We stared blankly at the waitress, her cheery words falling on wan smiles.

It fundamentally altered our marriage. She became the patient and I became the caregiver. All those changes brought grief. Grief of days wasted, time lost, changed roles, new responsibilities and so many more changes, little and big that are in the rabbit hole of fighting cancer.

I was determined that it wouldn’t define our relationship. We would beat it and move on. Living and loving each other more deeply for the scare she’d had. Nope. Didn’t work out that way either. And yet, by giving vent and voice to the grief over the years I’ve been able to let it flow on by. Feel it, own it, experience it and let it go. It will come again. That’s cool. I’ll dance with it again and then send it on down the line once more.

And in the letting go of grief, love remains. Life remains. Cancer hasn’t defined our relationship. We fought to make our marriage great for 19 years and three months and we succeeded. Cancer didn’t change that.

But the premature end of Kristi’s life has put a spotlight on how precious each day is that remains. My goal is still the same as it was on 18+1, three years ago today. Labor in love with my Heavenly Father to bring about all manner of good in this life.

Don’t avoid your grief. That will derail you. Meet it head-on. Let it come. Experience it. Soul-shaking sobs. Heart-rending cries. Whatever it takes. So you can let it go. So Love can remain.

“Now these three remain, Faith, Hope and Love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

 

Surprise! What I Pulled Out Completely Shocked Her!

Twenty-one years ago today I said “I Do!” It was “I Do and I will…” Forever. We both said it. We both meant it. We kept those mutual vows for nineteen years and three months until death finally did part us. But that didn’t mean it had to be a chore or boring the whole time. Far from it! I decided to get the surprises going early in our marriage and started during the reception…

It was time to throw the garter. Kristi was seated conspicuously in the middle of the guests and I knelt down in front of her and slipped my hands under her dress, found the garter and teased it off. Before I pulled my hands back out from under her dress, I stuffed the garter in the sleeve of my coat and out of the other pulled a pair of Kristi’s bright red undies I had secreted out of her honeymoon bag.

Chad Surprising Kristi at their wedding reception
Surprise! Chad pulls red panties out from under Kristi’s wedding dress instead of the garter.

The look on her face says it all. Complete shocker! It got everyone laughing and brings a smile to my face all these years later. A romantic at heart, I kept surprising her throughout our marriage to keep the fire bright and the love fresh.

May the memories of love fulfilled bring you joy today! I’m thankful for the years we shared together and the love of my children that keeps it real every day.

Celebrate life!

 

What’s Your Choice?

Up early for pre-dawn training run. 5.25 miles of intervals today. That means you run fast for a bit, then slow down and recover then repeat. Interval training is part of the journey to increase your fitness and speed.

It reminds me that grief is part of the journey of life. Sometimes we move fast, sometimes we slow down and recover.

Today I ran with our club president. She’ll be racing the Ironman Chattanooga course with me in September. Its always good to train with a partner. It keeps your effort honest and provides a source of encouragement. 

The race of life doesn’t have to be run alone. Even if you’ve suffered great loss. Jesus pioneered the way into the Father’s heart, opening it wide so that you and I never have to be alone, so that we can live a life surrounded by love and sharing it with others.

Its a choice. Love is always a choice. Its a willful act to embrace another’s life, knowing that the act of engagement will require much. But Love is always a gift and that gift, when received and returned transforms both lover and beloved. What’s your choice today?

Choose Yourself

You’ve been picked! You are chosen. The question is, will you choose back?

God, through Jesus, has chosen you. Awesome, right!? But here’s the catch so many miss. He’s waiting for you to choose back. Not just to choose him…that’s the message we hear all the time from the pulpit… but to choose yourself too. We love to say, “Yes, I choose God! Now He’s in control! I’m off the hook.” Its a “whatever happens now is God’s will for my life” outlook. Nice. You just embraced fate.

Your Father isn’t looking for fatalists. According to Jesus he’s looking for friends. Fatalists are a drag, constantly offloading responsibility. Friends walk side by side, sharing the load. Friends are mutually engaged in the relationship. But to genuinely and authentically engage another, you must first engage yourself. Choose to feel, choose to be open and vulnerable. Choose to commit. Choose to trust. After all, you can’t follow the command to love your neighbor if you don’t love yourself.

Kristi and I were friends. I think that’s what I miss most. One year ago today, her cancer showed up again after its brief hiatus. All the surgeries, the chemo, and the radiation had failed…utterly. It was a scary day. We started out the door that morning for her bone density scan when we got the call that her brain MRI was positive for a tumor. Stunned by the news we quickly changed plans and went to my parent’s place to process and pray. While there Kristi had a debilitating pain attack/seizure that demanded a 911 response and ambulance transfer to the ER. As I followed the ambulance on the freeway, tears soaked my shirt while I sobbed/screamed out “NO!” until I was hoarse.

I just looked back at my post that day. It was quite sedate compared to the emotions surging through me. I was frightened, I was hurting for my wife, and concerned about my children. I was angry too. But the crisis demanded focus to deal with the unfolding events. We got the worst possible diagnosis. It was nip and tuck as to whether she’d even pull through the first two or three days. I wept in the arms of friends and family as the process of losing my wife began.

After that she couldn’t choose herself anymore, relationally anyway. I understood. Her focus was on basic physical tasks. As she regressed from mobile adult to requiring infant level care over the next three and a half months, it was that loss of a friend that hurt most. That loss of intimate confidant. The loss of one who vested her full trust in me and I in her.

I’ll be honest, I still miss that today. I think that’s natural. But it left a big void. One that I’m just now starting to fathom in its entirety. And the thought of choosing myself again? Intimidating. Trusting a broken heart is like standing on a broken leg. The pain shoots out, the leg collapses involuntarily and down you go. Yet, making that choice is the only way forward. If I don’t choose myself, I can’t fully engage with my Father. Healing is there in that relationship. Hope and restoration are too. Those have all felt distant recently. Some nearness would be golden right about now.

So I’ll continue to do the heavy lifting of choosing me. Of being present and honest to not only my Heavenly Father but to myself. Choosing yourself means no hiding…especially from yourself.

The apostle John said “God is love.” His compatriot Paul said “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…Love never fails.” That means that as I choose myself and Him, that he’ll bear me up when my strength falters, believe in me even when I don’t, impart hope when mine wanes and stand with me through all the hurt. He won’t fail me.

Kind of sounds like wedding vows doesn’t it? Hmm, maybe that’s why He instituted marriage! But that’s another topic for another day.

Will you choose yourself? If it feels too vulnerable or exposed, I get it. It feels like too much responsibility. But that’s life as a lover. Vulnerable, exposed and responsible.

God has made his choice. What’s yours going to be? Will you choose you? Choose love, choose life.

PS- If you hurt too much right now to be open and vulnerable, that’s ok. Start there. Choose yourself by simply sharing with Him how much you hurt. He’ll take that as a starting point. His specialty is restoring brokenness and healing the hurt. He’s dying to lead you out of that place… I for one am glad to be on that path!

Olympic Stress

The Olympics have robbed us of sleep. Lack of sleep creates cranky children. Cranky children create stress. Ergo the Olympics create stress. Perfectly logical right?

Right, if you accept that you HAVE to watch at NBC’s proscribed time. But you don’t have to you know… There’s an app for that. I made the easy choice however, and went with the primetime coverage. So the lack of sleep is on me, not NBC. Hmm.

It feels better to blame the Olympics for the rough morning we had today. No one wanted to get up on time, including me. We ended up rushing breakfast, rushing lunch prep, and finally rushing out the door to co-op with everyone’s tempers on edge. Lovely way to start the day.

But I had to own it. So tonight I switched it off and sent them packing to bed. I expect much better energy levels tomorrow.

Own your choices. It’ll help you see clearly what (if anything) needs to change. Its the first step toward loving and living deeply.

Loving Pursuit

I’ve posted the video of my message at Kristi’s celebration service we held here in Texas on July 13th, 2013. I know there were many of you who wanted to attend but couldn’t be here because of prior commitments.

I’m glad to be able to bring it to you here. NOTE: The videographer’s battery ran out at 13 minutes in and had to be swapped. The video freezes at that point, but they patched in the audio and continues uninterrupted for 40 seconds until the video kicks back in. Stay with it.

I hope you enjoy the story of our love and life together! Here’s the post I wrote about the service at the time.

B-Gone, B-9, B-Healed, Its a Way of Life!