Viewing entries in
Family

Comment

MOM BOSS

TGIF! Time to see the family!

Family Photo

This picture is a pretty good depiction of our life right now. We squeeze in any chance we can to see each other and when we do, it’s a little wild and crazy.

I am so thankful for Annalisa who does it ALL Monday - Friday while I am gone (off at Medical rotations out of state). There are good days and there are hard days. Some days the kids are great, but sometimes Annalisa is up every hour with the baby and then chasing Bryer all the next day. She is an amazing mother and one of the most active moms I know.

When the weekend comes I catch the first flight I can out of Seattle to meet Annalisa. I stay as long as possible and catch the last flight coming back, usually getting back to my place around 1-2 AM. Then I start work the next day around 5:30 AM with shifts that go 12-16 hours each day.

But that is nothing compared to what Annalisa does! 16 hour days are long but 24 hour days are longer. As a mom of two boys, and one of them a newborn, it is a nonstop continuous shift of feeding, cleaning, chasing, disciplining, entertaining, changing diapers, and holding/rocking the baby, all on very little, interrupted sleep.

I know she loves being a mom, but just like any challenging job, it can be exhausting and stressful. I point these things out to say I have so much respect for this woman!

So then when I come home for 36 hours and I hold my baby for a bit, I find it hilarious when people say “Wow what an amazing Dad!”

Wait really? I hold my baby for an hour and I start receiving accolades. Not that I don’t appreciate it, I just don’t know if I deserve it when such a double standard exists. I get praised for working hard at my job that I clock in and out of, and get praised at home for doing 1% of what my wife does 24/7. I just know that Annalisa, and most moms in general, do not receive the same praise.

Moms need more respect, love, admiration, and praise, not just on Mother’s day, but as often as possible for their unceasing hard work and dedication.

But I especially want to highlight Annalisa who during this phase of our life has to do it alone (without me) 5 days a week. She is amazing!

JoyRock Family
Father son swimming

Annalisa really is a Proverbs 31 woman!

Proverbs 31: 10-30

10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.

14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.

16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Comment

The Art of Equilibrium

Comment

The Art of Equilibrium

As I sit here just days away from having my second child during medical school, I think about how simultaneously crazy and wonderful it has been. I was asked last year to write about how I balance medical school with family life so I thought I would share it here as well...

IMG_2480.JPG

  They say medicine is an art; well so is making it through the schooling. It takes intentionality, finesse, and even creativity to balance the rigors of medical school and home life. Medical school is extremely difficult no matter what your home life is like, but it can seem nearly impossible at times with a spouse and kids at home.
    

My first son was born midway through first year, during the thick of immunology didactics. Initially, I was struggling to stay afloat. I was grappling with my newly acquired ropes of fatherhood and trying to be an attentive husband, all while maintaining my intense study schedule. I had to adapt quickly or some area of my life was going to plummet.


    Everyone’s situation is different. For me personally, I found it very difficult to study once I arrived home. So, I spent more time on campus to study after classes. I utilized my lunches and breaks in between to review and ask questions. I relied heavily upon classmates to hold me accountable and met up often to review the relentless onslaught of new material. I used my drive to and from campus productively, re-listening to previous lectures or calling family members to stay in touch.
    It is imperative that you take breaks from the constant stress and studies, otherwise you will not make it through medical school. Since I was able to maximize my time outside of the house, this allowed me to devote precious time to my wife and new born baby. No matter how busy I was, I always tried to take the first hour I got home to give undivided attention to my family. I got to ask about their day, help out around the house, and play with my baby. When I made it home early enough I could help out with dinner, or at least enjoy dinner with the family.  Then it was time to clean up, give the baby his bath, do the bedtime routine: dressing, bottle, brushing teeth, bedtime book, and rocking to sleep. By the time I shut the door to the nursery, it was already late at night. I still think it is important to have quality time with your wife, because it is not the same while watching a baby. Sometimes we would chat some more or play a game for thirty minutes or so, but then it was time for me to get back to studying. I could usually squeeze in an hour or two of more study hours before I fell asleep on my notes or stumbled back to the bedroom.


    It is crucial to find your support system. For me it was my wife. She not only encouraged me throughout the whole process, but was extremely helpful. On nights when I needed extra time to study, she took on everything— and I mean everything! She took care of our baby all day long, cooked, cleaned, and helped me with any errands I was struggling to finish. On top of all that, she works full-time over 50 hours a week owning and operating a photography business! I do not know how she does it all, but I am so blessed to have her in my life. She balances being the best wife, mother, and business owner. Maybe that’s what inspires me to balance my roles of father, husband, and student.
    All the loved ones in your life can be seen as burdens or blessings. When you correctly calibrate your perspective you realize what an advantage it is to have these people in your life. Yes, it takes time to maintain these relationships. For me personally, it at times added hours of chores, increased my stress, and decreased my sleep. However, the benefits were unsurpassable. After an overwhelming day of treading water in the lecture hall, nothing feels as uplifting as a welcome home hug from that special someone. In my case, it was my wife. Everyday she boosted my morale with her joyous smile. When she made me laugh, I momentarily forgot about the stresses that loomed within next Friday’s exam. Then, I got to hold my child. You can only understand the joys this brings once you have a child of your own. This was the most fulfilling study break and I was so fortunate to have him in my life during these stressful times.
    Instead of looking at the chores in your life as time-consuming burdens, use them as physical reminders to count your blessings. When taking out the trash, be thankful you have arms and legs to do so. When changing your baby’s diaper, consider it foul-smelling proof that your child’s gastrointestinal system is working properly. I was thankful for the lecture recordings, because I was able to utilize this resource to re-watch dozens of lectures while feeding or rocking our baby. On the days when there is no time for exercising at the gym, at least you can do push ups wherever you are (which is what I resorted to often while playing with my son). I learned first-hand how perspective brings contentment— and having babies makes you efficient.
    Families are dynamic and ever-changing. Everyone is busy and has stressful home life events happening throughout their schooling careers. It is how we adapt to these situations that allows us to persevere; and this perseverance builds unshakable character that will define us for the duration of our medical endeavors.

Comment

Remembering Rock

7 Comments

Remembering Rock

"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:38

My dad is no longer in pain.

This is something I have to remind myself as I reflect on the loss of my father.

I knew this day would come, but for some reason I never thought it would be so soon— or so sudden. When you lose a family member (especially when it comes unexpected) you reflect on your final conversations with them. Was I there for him when he needed me? Did we end on good terms? Does he know he much he really meant to me? Did I tell him I loved him?

It’s hard not to wish you said more, did more, and, most importantly, loved more.

Even though parents fall short, they are the people that love you more than anyone else. They are the ones who love you unconditionally. Being a new father myself, I am now experiencing this more and more everyday with my own son.

So as I reflect on my own father I want to highlight the good. I want to remember the ways he shaped me into who I am today and the positive impacts he had on my life.

Everyone will have different memories with him, but here are just a FEW of the highlights with my dad:

My dad loved the water. Especially salt water. Salt water was the cure for all things in life. Sore throat? Gargle with hot salt water. Foot infection? Soak it in salt water. Those things make sense. But sometimes it went way beyond that… Nightmares keeping you up? Salt water. Lost the championship game? Salt water. HA!

But in all seriousness, he loved the water so much I think he would have permanently lived on it if it were up to him. Several different times in life he lived on a sail boat out in the water. We he moved on shore and bought a house in Weaverville (where he practiced dentistry) he bought a ski boat which we took out to the lake.

My memories out on the lake our some of my favorite of all time. I loved boating! Tubing, knee-boarding, skiing, fishing, or just exploring the waters. The photo above is me performing a “whoa baby” jump and staking claim on what I saw as a newly discovered island. After we moved from Weaverville it would be years before I got to go back out on the lakes and rivers again (Thank you Erickson family!).

Growing up I wasn’t the most athletic kid (I think Knute, Teagan, and Brayden got those genes), but my dad never gave up on me. We tried various sports until we found one that I thrived at— hockey. I remember roller-blading around the whole neighborhood with my dad or working on in the garage with him on my wrist shot. We practiced and played together until I became the lead scorer in my league. That was a proud moment for me. At the time I thought he was proud of my success, but now looking back, I realize he would have been proud of me no matter how I performed. He was just happy to see me trying my best and having fun.

I loved growing up in Weaverville. As a kid, you don’t need “things to do” like you complain about as a teen or an adult. You just need places to explore! And Weaverville has plenty of that. The population of Weaverville is probably less than the amount of people at Coronado Beach on any given Saturday. There was so much wilderness to explore and all the neighbors had animals everything from goats and pigs to parrots and chinchillas.

I don’t know if this is because it was back in the 90’s or because it was out in the sticks, but I remember how everyone burned most of their trash in what we called “burn piles”.  My dad taught me a lot about fire and how to be a pyro. Don’t know if most people would consider that good things but it sure was fun… until Teagan burnt our trampoline down :(

My dad was really handy. My 2 favorite things he built while we lived in Weaverville was our go-kart and our backyard tree fort. This was the most legit tree fort I have ever seen. It was three stories high with various ways to get up and down including nets, ropes, and stairs. This made for the perfect play place for any kid who dreams of being a super hero (isn’t that every little boy?).

After meeting spider man and introducing me to the world of super hero comics he taught me how to climb all the walls of our house like spider man.

One Christmas my dad surprised us we woke up to quads! I didn’t even understand what a cool Christmas present this was at the time. To be honest, I think I was more excited about the micro-machines and Hotwheel tracks I had received the night before. But regardless of my comprehension, this would change family reunion vacations forever!

As we acquired enough 4-wheelers all the cousins learned to ride and soon this became one of my favorite activities I have ever taken part in! My dad also used these quads to help teach us boys responsiblity. After we rode he had us wash and put them away properly. He taught us how to change the tires and repair the parts that we were capable of.

My favorite house we have ever had growing up was the one we lived in when we moved to Redding.

My dad really wanted a pool and I’m pretty sure we spent every single summer day in it. At this house there was acres and acres of undeveloped land that we rode quads around all the time. Between the quads, pool, and family I really do believe these years of childhood are hard to rival. I have VERY fond memories of my childhood at this house.

After he taught me how, my dad would let me put up the Christmas lights each year. My dad was never afraid to teach me new things, (even things that now I look back on and think “whoa, scary, would I let Bryer be up there by himself??).  

I remember the first winter he took all of us kids up snowboarding for the first time. Anyone who has been snowboarding knows how frustrating it can be the first day. But somehow he got us all down the mountain in one piece (he even got Natalie boarding and I don’t even know he young she was… If I was 12, she had to be under 7).

My dad also taught me how to workout. Pushups, pullups, and weights, he showed me how the ropes of fitness.

I’m thankful that my dad was able to make it to my wedding…

And attend bible studies at my first home!

And I loved watching how much he LOVED Warren! He was always healthiest, happiest, and at his best whenever Warren was around.

My favorite memory of my dad was how he instilled within me faith at a very young age. I remember how he used to tuck me in each night as a kid and pray with me. That is something I will always cherish and hopefully will continue to do with my own son.

I am thankful for the parents God blessed me with.

All of us have things in life that we struggle with and some more than others. Some of us struggle with things openly, while others internally. But regardless, our struggles do not define who we are.

Our identity comes from Christ, and from Christ alone.

I don’t know how people go through life’s heartaches and maintains their sanity without the peace and love of knowing the Lord.

I know that when I meet my dad again, he will be restored. He will be everything he was meant to be. This brings me comfort, peace, and joy— the joy to celebrate the everlasting life made possible by our Savior.

 

7 Comments

Comment

Pound for Pound

Since today is the day Annalisa and I celebrate 125 months of love, I am going to take a moment to brag about how amazing she has been through this whole pregnancy.

First of all I just want to praise God for his abundant blessings. You can prepare/prep and do everything right and still have EVERYTHING go wrong. Thankfully, Annalisa has had a VERY healthy pregnancy and as far as we know our son Bryer has been healthy at every check up.

The human body is incredible and every day at school while studying the different organ systems we have been relating it back to embryonic development and pregnancy. It hits even closer to home for someone like me since I go home to my wife and watch her grow and change on a daily basis. Some of our favorite times is laying on the bed and watch her stomach move as Bryer practices firing his muscle and nerve fibers in a process called “quickening”.

But back to ANNALISA. This woman amazes me every day! I have always admired mothers for their “mom-strength”. I’ve always appreciated Annalisa’s drive and perseverance but its crazy to see how much stronger she gets each day. I’m just impressed with how much she can do and even when I know she is in pain, doesn’t complain and stays positive.

For the first 7 months of pregnancy she powered through weddings, photoshoots, and events no matter how tired, achy, and sore she was. There has been times on the ways to a shoot I have had to drive her because she was feeling so sick. We had to pull off the road so she could barf on the side. I would insist that she needed to cancel and reschedule the shoot, but NOOOO, she was going to power through. Besides she was booked solid and would feel bad for her clients if she canceled on an engagement shoot and then was not able to offer them photos because she had no free days. She was literally booked solid! And on top of that, some of the sessions she was doing for free for either family members, contest winners, and for monthly givebacks.

So, since there was no arguing with her, I kept driving her to her shoot… until she would whisper “pull-over” so she could jump out and vomit some more. But she made it. And at the shoots, the adrenaline kicked in. When I was able to go to her shoots I would watch from a far as she creatively captured her couples. I bet none of them even knew that she was sick because Annalisa was directing with I like to call “A-game”. She has a gift of being able to make people smile.  Annalisa makes people feel natural which a rare quality for photographers. Not only is she an amazing technical shooter, she also has the social gift to radiate joy and amiability into each shoot (which in my opinion is even more important). She also wasn’t afraid to get down in all the various positions to get that perfect angle. She climbed mountains and waded in water to capture some incredible photos.

I love how pro-active Annalisa has been through this whole pregnancy. She has read books, blogs, and talked to moms for advice. She preps in so many ways and I think it has really helped pay off to have a happy/healthy pregnancy. She has really enjoyed the whole process. But like I said before, we have to give God the glory because you could do everything according to the books and still be sick, immobilized, or have a complication that is completely out of your control.

I appreciate Annalisa taking the time to look up pre-parenting classes, hospital tours, and labor and delivery prep classes. At first I would go into these classes thinking “okay isn’t most of this stuff common sense” and when it had to do with medical terminology or health safety I would think “Oh I’m sure I have learned this in my Med school classes”.  But I wanted to have a positive attitude and told myself that I was going to try to learn at least one new thing at every class— one good take away point. But EVERY single time now I have come out with over a page of notes. Definitely recommend these classes. They are very informative and it is a great bonding time as husband and wife during this amazing journey.

Annalisa is one of the most active pregnant people I know. She isn’t a gym rat but she finds other ways to move her body and burn calories. She takes out our Fur-children Posey and Pepper around the Paseo or on hikes. Actually, I think we have gone on more walks/hikes since she has been pregnant than our entire marriage before. My favorite exercise Annalisa does is when she dances. I think she is the most amazing dancer and I love any time there is music that gets her moving. I always am torn between sitting back and watching her move and jumping up to join her (usually the latter is what ends up happening).

I still can’t get over how rare it is to hear Annalisa complain. I know she has been achy and tired, especially these past few weeks as we approach the end, but she always keeps a smile on her face and powers through.

Annalisa never used “pregnancy” as an excuse. If anything, she used it to better herself. I have heard stories of people eating whatever they want (and however much they want) and blaming it on pregnancy cravings.  Yes, obviously Annalisa has eaten more since being pregnant but not in excess. Even though she LOVES brownies, she never ate a whole pan (even though she probably could have LOL). Instead she would fill up on something healthy prior to giving into a sweet tooth craving. She added things into her diet that before she was not too fond of. She now eats spinach on practically a daily basis (PS a great way to incorporate veggies into your diet is just throwing a handful or two of spinach/kale/leafy greens into your smoothie. You won’t even taste it, but your body will be happy). She rarely eats out and when she does it is typically something I would consider healthy any ways. Annalisa also stopped drinking soda and is making sure to drink lots of water throughout her day.

Annalisa has recently entered into the “nesting” stage. I don’t think she made a conscious change but I noticed. She has always been really good about keeping up with the house and cleaning but now I couldn’t find a dog hair if someone paid me (and that’s saying A LOT when you have two indoor dogs running around all day!). She has also completed the nursery and made she her hospital bag is packed and ready. If I’m ever home and not sure where Annalisa is, I head over to the nursery and sure enough I can find her in there working on something.

Aside from running her photography business, prepping the house, and exercising, she also takes care of me! She cooks me the most incredible meals and always makes sure I am well taken care of. She invests time into our relationship to make sure that we are still growing in our relationship even in this busy time of prep.

And then there is the glow!

Come on, how gorgeous is this lady! She just gets more and more beautiful every single day. I just stare at her all the time and think, “Wow, how did I get so lucky?”

So when Annalisa first got pregnant we made a pack to go “POUND-for-POUND” with each other. She didn’t want to look/feel large next to me (or be heavier than me), even though she knows it is a natural and womanly process. I think she exemplifies grace and beauty but I also understand how critical women are of themselves. So I was going to try to gain a pound for every pound that Annalisa gained throughout her pregnancy. We approximated that she would gain 25 pounds since that is the healthy average weight gain for a full term pregnancy.

She is now about 3 weeks from her due date and has gained about 22 pounds! WOW! I’m thinking she will gain about a pound per week during these weeks of pregnancy which would put us exactly 25.

For those that don’t know me, my genes don’t correspond with weight gain very easily. I have tried to gain weight in the past and the most I have ever got up to was about 165 pounds.

But somehow I have been able to do it!

During these past months I have been able to gain 25 pounds! I am the heaviest I have ever been! POUND-for-POUND mission accomplished.

Somehow even with gaining 20+ pounds, Annalisa looks sexy as ever. Just look at those legs and arms! Are you kidding me?

I could rave about her physical beauty incessantly but the inner beauty is even more magnificent. She is sweet, fun, and so up-lifting. She makes me laugh more than anyone and makes me feel so appreciated. She is inspiring and supportive throughout every stage of life. We are so excited for our new bundle of joy and I can’t wait to see Annalisa holding our baby. She is going to be the best mom in the world!

Annalisa, I love you so much!

Happy 125 Months of love!

Comment

Kylie

2 Comments

Kylie

My wife and I just celebrated our 3 year Anniversary and it was so wonderful looking back on our past year and seeing how blessed we were.

We also went through so of the hardest moments of our life with the passing of Kylie and wanted to take time to celebrate her life.

My wife and I reflecting on our sweet little niece as we looked back on this past year. These are just a few snippets and memories. My favorite is Kylie's laugh and her "fake" laugh. So dang cute! We love you and miss you Kylie.

After watching this video my wife and I made, I reflected on some comments people made throughout Kylie’s journey.

Many people say that fact tragedies such as children suffering prove that GOD DOES NOT EXIST.

Or at least that an ALL POWERFUL, ALL GOOD God does NOT exist.

After all, God can’t possibly be both ALL LOVING (GOOD) and ALL POWERFUL and still allow such unnecessary atrocities in the world to exist. Right?

Wrong. I’m here to prove the contrary.

Suffering PROVES THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. Here’s how:

Whenever someone is tortured, murdered, or dies from so unpreventable disease such as we feel a sense of heartbreak, helplessness, and often anger.

First we must breakdown the types of suffering:
Those brought about by our choices, i.e. moral evils such as murder
Those brought about by nature, i.e. cancer, tornados, etc.

The first can be explained by free will. The fact that humans have free will explain why when people commit an immoral act, consequences of suffering ensues. Otherwise, God would have to make all bad choices have no consequences which would therefore not make it a bad choice, or take away our free will and we could all live as ROBOTS forced to always do the right thing that brings about no suffering.

So the fact that people make evil decisions in the world does not disprove God at all. If there were no God, evil would be subjective and at best we could as a collective group of people decide we don’t like certain actions. But we couldn’t say that universally RAPE and CHILD ABUSE are evil unless an absolute moral standard exists… and the only way an absolute moral standard exists is if God exists.

Which leads directly to the 2nd type of suffering. This is more frustrating and at times more difficult to explain. How do you explain a child (or a person of any age for that matter) suffering from an incurable disease such as neuroblastoma?

The most natural response to finding out a child suffering from a disease such as this is to say,
“Wow, this is so sad.”  
“This is so wrong!”
“This just shouldn’t happen!”

Any of these are APPROPRIATE responses, however they are completely irrational if you don’t believe in God.  

Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it is not right. On the contrary, IF you don’t believe in God, diseases such as cancer are completely natural and should be accepted as a part of life. You have no reason to be outraged or upset. These are SUBJECTIVE feelings in response to what is happening. You shouldn’t then be objecting to NATURAL SUFFERING.

IF there is no GOD, there is no good or evil… just nature acting perfectly naturally.

Nature is only about survival, so the fact that we feel something is unjust or wrong proves that we have a private, objective standard of what is right or wrong. And if that standard exists… so does GOD.

I could not have written this without the research and help of others. Thank you Peter Kreeft (Professor at Boston College) for sharing your words of wisdom and insight as I researched this topic.

 

2 Comments

WPBS Farewell Ball

Comment

WPBS Farewell Ball

Two weeks ago our WPBS (Wolf Pack Bible Study) had a farewell ball, as Annalisa and I prepare to leave for LA.

Awkward Prom pose LOL

Awkward Prom pose LOL

Let me just start by saying I feel so blessed and am SO incredibly grateful for all the amazing people God has brought into my life.

There was so much detail put into the whole night, I can tell they spent weeks planning and prepping for this event. And with over 60 people in attendance, it was like a small wedding.

It started with the Red Carpet entrance to the magnificently decorated house. The Sleepy Castle (the Spiering House and new home of WPBS) had all of the furniture moved out of the living spaces. Half of the house was devoted to a banquet style formal eating area with personalized name tags for each person. The other half the room was dedicated to the dance floor area complete with balloons, glitter, balloons-with-glitter-inside, and even a disco ball. 

The whole room was laden with hundreds of pictures of memories from the Bible study family. There was also a photo booth complete with props (more pictures to follow at end of blog).

To be completely honest, I was stunned. When they told Annalisa and I about it, they made it sound like instead of having Bible Study we were just going to have a dance as a going away celebration. They did say to “dress nice” but I had no idea how over the top they were going to go. I should have known my friends would go above and beyond. God has blessed us with the most amazing community group.

It was fun seeing everyone in their glamorous getups. Most of the ladies wore dresses from their high school prom days. Some of the dresses saw the light of day after being neglected for over a decade! (Props to all you ladies; just shows what amazing shape you all are in!)

Annalisa looked absolutely stunning (obviously! When does she not?). I know I am biased but seriously she is the most beautiful woman in the whole world. I am so lucky! One of my favorite parts about Annalisa’s dress is that she thought about my so much when picking it out and wore my favorite color. (Sweet and sexy).

In the beginning (cocktail hour) we had hors d’oeuvres and greeted people as they trickled in. Then we were asked to find our seats before being dismissed by tables to get food. They had Olive Garden catered because it is one of Annalisa’s favorite restaurants. Nice touch!

They even went as far as to give speeches, toasts, and (went too far by) knighted us king and queen.

I felt honored and humbled at the same time. Honored because how can you not feel loved from such a wonderful group of people. Humbled- and quite frankly embarrassed- because I of all people am least deserving of standing in front of the group. I am the one that was so blessed and fortunate to have these people to carry me through each and every week for the past 3 years. These are the people that encouraged me, held me accountable, and taught me new life lessons each and every week. I should be giving a gift and highlighting every single person in the room for how, through the power of Christ, they have influenced, shaped, and ultimately changed my life.

I had no idea this was coming, otherwise I would have had my retaliation speech ready.

Anyway, after dinner (and one of the best cakes I have ever tasted from Nothing Bundt Cakes) we danced the night away.

For those of you who don’t know me, dance is my life… or so I say. But honestly, once the music started I never wanted to leave the dance floor. Annalisa made me wear white. I told her that would be a mistake. I knew how much I would sweat and an hour into the dancing I felt like I was having a wet t-shirt contest against myself.

I also love dog piles and crowd surfing. I’m not sure who all got lifted up throughout the night but I distinctly remember carrying Troy on my back at one point.

Darrin helped lead everyone through several line dances. Uptown funk was such a hit that it got played twice.

Sexton had a dance battle against Josh and Darryl.

Richard Spiering (most amazing host/man ever!) led us all through jazzercise dances.

The night ended with (a surprisingly large late night crew considering it was a week night) everyone singing Disney songs and switching slow dance partners around the room to our favorite laid back classics.

This night exemplifies what I have been learning the past 3 years: the importance of community. Everyone matters, not one person supremely. None of us make sense on our own, it is all of us together.

As Journey Church Pastor Ed Noble would say, “All of us together is Jesus in the flesh.”

We weren’t meant to do life alone. In Galatians 6:2 it says, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

If you are not a part of our a community group I urge you to do so. God has blessed us with a spacious new location and would love to see new faces. Or join another group. There are hundreds around San Diego, but it requires a step of initiation on your part. Sometimes it is hard to take the first step, to reach out, to try something new— but trust me, you will NOT regret it! Don’t just take my word for it. Ask any of the WPBS members who can tell you what an impact it has made on their lives. And one more word of advise… don’t just come one week and then give up. Try consistently showing up for 4 weeks in a row and if you don’t feel like part of the family after that, I’ll personally treat you to lunch!

Hebrews 10:24-25 says:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Don’t let another day slip by without becoming more involved in others’ lives, because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what your status is, what number is in your bank account, or even how much security you think you have acquired. The only thing that matters is relationships, and none more important than that between you and the Creator.

Thanks for reading!

More pictures from my favorite Prom party ever...
 


Comment

Kylie

Comment

Kylie

Kylie Strong

Happy Birthday Kylie!

Kylie, you have touched the hearts of thousands of people. But I shouldn’t use the word “touched” because it is past tense. Correction: You TOUCH the hearts of thousands and your legacy continues to shape, mold, and grow others including myself.

Is it weird that your love for a person can grow even after they pass? I have always loved baby Kylie, but somehow I feel my love has even grown stronger. She continues to teach me things about life even though she is far younger than I.

These are just some of my thoughts and feelings as I reflect on the beautiful Kylie Rowand and all that she has taught me (and continues to teach me). I wanted to share this is because originally I didn’t know how to comfort someone going through heartbreak or death of a loved one. I know I would have found this helpful and my hope is that maybe someone else will feel the same. And by no means do I think I have mastered any of this in anyway.

Kylie Strong

Anyone who knows me knows that I can be terrible at comforting others. I just thought I would share some of what I have learned along the way.

There are (and will be) highs and lows every day following the death of a loved one.  

Anyone who hears of Kylie’s story is heartbroken. I find myself somewhere in the middle. I’m no stranger to Kylie but I’m not the parents either: I’m the uncle.

There are no magic words to take the pain away, but there are definitely expressions to steer away from.

Things I have learned to avoid: “Back to normal” and “getting over it”.

Prayers for Kylie

When someone loses a child, there will never be a “back to normal” or a way to “get over it”. Losing a child transforms a person for life. So instead of expecting the grieving parents and relatives to go back to normal, your support should be directed toward who they are becoming. Rather than likening the grief to a physical illness that we can recover from, it should be thought of as a life-changing physical injury.

“How are you?” In our culture this is such a commonplace greeting that it’s hard not to let it slip out. But really this should be avoided. Obviously, they are doing bad. A child just died. So when you ask that question what kind of response are you really looking for? What you really mean is I care about your well being, so find a way to express that without asking the obvious, and almost offensive, question. It’s hard enough as is. Don’t make them answer that awkward and ill-timed inquiry.

Refrain from, “I know how you feel.” Unless you have had a child die, you probably don’t know how they feel, and it sounds presumptuous to say so.

Trent and Kylie

DON’T say, “It was God’s will” or other cliche churchy expressions. This is a harmful one that I have heard Christians use with the best intentions in mind but the worst outcomes. These words don’t make it alright that the child has died and quite frankly, I believe they are wrong!

God doesn’t want death. He is the one who offers eternal life. He sacrificed His son so that we could have life eternally, and live life on Earth to the fullest.

What God does do is take a terribly tragic situation and bring as much light and beauty as possible. God does not create evil. God takes evil and uses it for good.  So even if God brings miracles and changed lives through it, it is NOT God’s will for a child to die. So don’t say it.

Definitely AVOID, “At least you have your spouse,” or if applicable, “At least you have other children.” This should be obvious. You should never try to minimize a child’s death by counting your blessings.

I don’t know who the heck says this but I caught wind of someone telling a grieving mother, “At least you are young enough to have more children.” Seriously? Not helpful.

Everyone will handle it differently and there is no need to pass along judgements about what is appropriate or how they should be healing. Don’t critique if they display “too many photos” thereby idolizing the child, or “not enough photos”. Seriously, I don’t know why you would need to critique anyone about these things but it is some of the expressions I have heard.

Bottomline, if you have never lost a child, it’s incredibly difficult to know what to say to someone in that situation due to the nature of the tragedy. It is unnatural and unfair.

So, what to say?

Sometimes you don’t need to say anything at all.  Learn to be comfortable with silence and just be present with those who are grieving. Sometimes people need the silence and sometimes that gives them a window to open up about feelings. It can be cathartic.

Some people are afraid to bring up those who have passed because they don’t want to hurt those grieving. Yet often they need and want to talk about their loved one. Don’t treat those who have passed as taboo words. When appropriate feel free to bring up memories or stories if you knew the person. If not, don’t be afraid to ask gentle questions to get to know them better.

Don’t be afraid to cry. Your tears are a tribute to both to those who have passed and the grieving ones who are left behind. However, just make sure that your grieving is not so intense that those you went to comfort are now having to comfort you.

Side note about crying: Even though it is a normal response to sadness, it isn’t the ONLY response. Just because someone is not crying (or crying as much) does not mean they are not sad. They may feel the pain just as deeply as others but have different ways of showing it.

Sometimes a hug or loving touch is all that will suffice. Your presence is what matters most.

Don’t be afraid of laughter. It helps heal the wounds.

Expressions that are almost always okay:
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“I’ll call you in a few days to check on you.”
“You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.”
“I love you.”  

Something I’ve learned through this experience is don’t say to the grieving family, “Call me if there’s anything I can do for you.” That call will probably never come.

I’ve been guilty of saying this dozens of troubled people in my life. But as I deal with my own anguish of Kylie’s death, I have had multiple kind hearted people offer up these same words to me. Yet, even though I am sad, I would never actually call upon these people. I didn’t want to inconvenience them, even when it was something I felt like would really help.

The best thing to do is take initiative. Find out things that the grieving family needs and do it. Start with the basics. Help out with chores, errands, and basic necessities. So when you find yourself about to say these words, instead figure out what needs to be done, and do it. Just know your boundaries of course. The better you know someone the more initiative you can take.  If your invitation is initially declined, don’t give up!  

A hand written card sent in the mail is also a very nice gesture.

Even if you feel like you have nothing to say, just letting someone know you are thinking about them can mean a lot.

Everyone grieves differently. Even though grieving is an individual and highly personal experience, love is a universal language that we all can speak, and as humans we all crave.

The biggest mistake you can make is not knowing what to do or say, so not reaching out at all.

The beautiful part about my faith in Christ is that even though I miss Kylie, I don’t have to be stuck in a state of permanent sadness. In fact, when I think of Kylie I can truly rejoice knowing that she is in a much better place than I am. I hear that expression thrown around a lot when it comes to tragic situations such as these, but with a solid faith in our Creator I’m not just saying those words for comfort, but with genuine meaning.

It is my faith in a loving and ever-faithful God that enables me and all those around me to recover from the death of a child.

This reminds me of a story in the Bible from 2 Samuel 12.  King David (yes, the same David who killed Goliath) had a child who had fallen deathly ill from sickness. He mourned, fasted, prayed, and wept the entire time his child was sick. He begged God for healing and had all his attendants do everything they could. Yet, the child died.

This is how David responded (2 Samuel 12:20): “Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.”

The part that stood out most to me was that he “went into the house of the Lord and worshiped.” Honoring God after a crisis sometimes can be very hard to do but it is an important and powerful demonstration of our spiritual confidence in our God. David turns loose what he cannot change.

David’s servants were stunned by his behavior and asked him about it. David’s response from 2 Samuel 12:23 is powerful:
“Now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

David was fully confident that he would see his son again in heaven. It does NOT mean David didn’t grieve. He just grieved differently than someone who does not believe in life after death.

Face the future with hope. Recognize that we are not alone. We have God who promises us life and we have each other. WE need to lean on each other to help us recover.

I’m trying to learn from David’s example. David worshiped the Lord in his time of deepest sorrow. We need to give God what we cannot change. Worship the Lord for restoring Kylie. Praise God that death is not the end, but only the beginning. I am fully confident that I will meet Kylie agin in heaven.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 2:14

 

Also, please check out my wife’s blog and thoughts about Kylie: analisa-joy.com/kylie

Comment