“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
Written 10 days after Jackie's diagnosis:
I THANK GOD FOR ... the one year of healing I had from my dad's death prior to this crisis, the hope for quality of life for Jackie, our relationship with Christ, the closeness with Carrie and the kids, the fact that Jackie is not in any pain, family and friends and their tremendous outpouring of love (I never really knew how many friends I really had), the Bayside Auburn (at the time Sonrise) church staff, for Dan and Steve for riding with me on the flight home to Auburn from Saddleback, my small group, Mike Bivins and Dave Harrison picking me up from the Sacramento airport, the people praying around the world, the 5 wonderful years we have had with Jackie, every day God gives (each day is a gift from God), God showering me with what really matters in life.
Random thoughts at the time:
As a result I'm not so anal retentive anymore. I'm more spontaneous. The house doesn't have to be clean to have people over. Last Saturday I went to the Red Wagon restaurant with our family and friends and had a great time. I bought Jackie a hamster and we keep it in her room! Carrie was snoring the other night and I didn't even wake her up to say, "Stop it."
I know what matters! What used to bug me doesn't bug me anymore. I'm thankful that Jackie received Christ on New Year's Eve. I'm thankful Jackie is asking questions about heaven - What will it be like? Will I get to see Jesus right away? Will I get to see grandpa? Can I take my hamster with me? I thank God that I've thought more about heaven in the past 10 days than at any other time in my life.
Written a couple months after Jackie's death:
I THANK GOD FOR ... the nearly 1000 people that attended Jackie's funeral service and for the many people who have come to Christ as a result of Jackie's life and death (both children and adults). I'm thankful that Dave Dravecky, James Dobson, Rick Warren and David Jeremiah all contacted me to encourage and support me. I'm thankful that Carrie and I are still together. We will celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary on October 11, 2009! Our other two kids (Josh and Jess) are doing well. Josh is in college and works and Jessica just started her senior year in high school and then wants to go to UCLA. I thank God that we stayed at Bayside Auburn (Sonrise) Church for 6 more years after Jackie passed for a total of 10 years. I'm thankful that we were able to start a third church (Conejo Church) that is doing well. I'm thankful that I now get to work with many families at Forest Lawn by doing personalized funeral services. I thank God I now get to train future lead pastors (church planters) who start churches on the West Coast through the EFCA West. I also get to coach people in leadership skills and I am hoping to help people in the future through grief coaching.
I'm thankful that Jackie never lost any cognitive ability, experienced little to no pain, and that she didn't die in a hospital hooked up to tubes but she passed away peacefully in my arms. I'm thankful that I have a daughter in heaven who I am going to see again someday!