Broken Pieces

On Sunday, our church started a series on what happens when your life is shattered.  Pastor Bryan talked about the motorcycle accident that took the life of his wife back in June.

At the end of the message, a handful of people came to the stage and mentioned their own traumatic events.  They included a woman whose sister was killed in an act of domestic violence just three months before, a man fighting addiction,  a woman whose daughter had cancer at age 6, was cured by a blood transfusion only to contract HIV/AIDS and die from it years later, and Pastor Bryan’s sons talking about the loss of their mother.

We are sums of our experiences and nothing shapes us more than tragedy. Our reaction to grief may be the solution to change our future.


Let’s take it a step deeper.  We are defined by our reaction to grief.

Train, research, workout, study, podcast, take notes, write books, do all you can to prepare and nothing matches the moment things all apart, that point you look in the mirror and realize something is wrong.

That diagnosis. That phone call. That argument.

The lines of demarcation that create our New Normal, the places that only exists as memories and warm summer afternoons, the ones we can’t go back to.

The starting point is knowing it is okay to grieve, to feel, to have the courage to face down what’s coming.

One of Val’s old coworkers is our age, married with two children, and starting chemotherapy this week for an aggressive form of cancer.

Her Normal has changed.

I wish I had a three-point summation, a quote, infographic, something to put a nice bow on this short run of thoughts, then I imagine her in a hospital bed tonight and I know that sometimes silence is the answer.

Presence is the answer.

Just being there, crying, holding hands and staying close.  Sometimes that’s all we have.




When my dad lived in Pennsylvania, he had a fireplace in his house.  It was one of those stove deals where you opened the front grate and built the fire inside.  I remember spending winter nights with my feet near the flames as I laid on the floor and watched television.

A small shed sat at the end of the yard and, behind it, the pile of wood. A large stump served as a chopping block and I’d watch dad line up logs and split them one after another.

Eventually he’d hand me the axe.

By the time we were done, we’d have a pile of wood ready to fuel the burning.


I’ve written recently about some issues our family is experiencing.  I took Carter to the doctor tonight and we have some important tests coming up that could give us an answer.

I heard a pastor in college say, once, that putting your faith in Jesus is the most dangerous choice you’ll make in your life.  It is a path to great struggle, suffering, refinement, and reward.

Our struggles are our logs.  Our faith is the axe and the Word of God is the blade that splits. The result is the fuel to keep going because the work will always be there. The struggles only end when our work is finished and we are called home.

So we take what comes. Every hard day. Every difficult hour. Every frustration, miserable person, crazy driver, slow cashier, and waiting room that we’ll ever sit in. We gather. We place them on the block and we strike.

It couldn’t just be any swing, though.

If I didn’t get the axe high enough or hit straight on, it would clang to the side and chip off the wood. The accuracy came with practice, the only way we get better.

With every struggle, we get better.