Sunday, October 11, 2015


Loved Ones -

This Tuesday would have been Ray's 44th Birthday.

Last weekend in church our Responsorial Psalm was the Responsorial Psalm from our wedding. In the 14 years since our wedding, I've probably heard that Psalm 2-3 times. So, noteworthy. I loved our Responsorial Psalm, we picked it because it described our children as olive plants. Both Ray and I loved olives, they remind us of the Holy Lands, and it was lovely to think of our children growing in this way. 

The refrain of the Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 128) reads like this:

"Blessed are those who love you, happy those who follow you, blessed are those who seek you, Oh God."

And these are the verses:
"Happy those who fear the Lord and walk in God's pathways, you will find what you long for, the riches of our God."
"Your spouse shall be like a fruitful vine in the midst of your home, your children flourish like olive plants, rejoicing at your table."
"May the blessings of God be yours all the days of your life, may the peace and the love of God live always in your heart."

I can see Ray and I as a young couple picking out this Psalm for our wedding. It creates such a picture doesn't it? It is truly idyllic.

More difficult is the actual picture.
And yet. I will stand on the fact that this Responsorial Psalm is as true for us today as it was then. Truer.

In the Scriptures, blessing is a funny thing. It's not quite what you think.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for THEY WILL BE COMFORTED.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3-10

I don't see a whole lot of idyllic in that passage. But I do see truth. Truth I have lived. Truth I have clung to. And I see blessing. Blessing that comes from finding ourselves unequal to the task. Blessing that comes from God's strength, greater than ours can ever be. Blessing from asking only that our lives, our person, be transformed to be like his.

We ARE finding what we long for and boy do we long for it. The riches of God.
Our children ARE like olive plants, they DO rejoice at the table.
The peace and love of God IS ALWAYS in our hearts.
It is not understandable what Ray endured. Neither is God. But he says Blessed. He says the Kingdom of Heaven. I have no doubt that's where Ray is now.

Happy Birthday Ray. It isn't what we thought it would look like but we are blessed.

not alone and not afraid -

"Thus far has the Lord helped us." I Samuel 7:12

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day Ray

Loved Ones,

Last night we watched the video of our last Father's Day with Ray. I can't believe it's been seven years! After Ray died we watched every single minute of him that we could find on video but that was so long ago, so the girls didn't remember. It was so nice to see him! And so nice for the girls to see how they were. How much he loved them and how much they loved him! Especially for Lucy who has so few memories.

There was a moment when Ray was sick and one of his friends was trying to comfort him. He said, "Don't worry, we'll take care of your kids." After he left Ray said, "I don't want anyone to take care of my kids, I want to take care of them." It was a heartbreak to leave them.

We are so grateful for every minute we had with him. Just seeing those moment with him reminds us of what a wonderful father and husband he was. How much he loved his girls. How much he loved me.

I read a post from a newly widowed woman a few weeks ago. She was lamenting that she wanted "Option A" her husband, not "Option B," a well meaning substitute. She concluded that she was going to do the very best Option B she could, in honor of her husband.

And on that note, I want to say how incredibly grateful I am for all the people who help me every day to do just that.

To the fathers and the mothers who look out for my girls and me. To the dads who make extra jokes with Lucy. To the dads and moms who cheer for Magggie on the field. To the teachers who inspire and nurture Nora in junior high. To the coaches who help them be their best. To the friends and neighbors who support me, who carpool with me, who listen to me agonize over decisions.

To my Dad, who was a WatchDOG Dad at school, to Dean who took Lucy to the Father-Daughter Dance at school. To my brother in laws for all they do to be there for my kids all the time.

God Bless all of you.

Ray, we can never do it the way we wanted to without you but we are grateful, so grateful, for the many hands and hearts who help us do the very best we can without you here on earth with us.

Happy Father's Day in heaven.

not alone and not afraid -


"A father to the father-less, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." Psalm 68:5

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ray is Looking Down

Loved Ones,

We have had some wonderful days where Ray's spirit was so present.  The girls and I traveled to Taylor University last Friday for the Ray Fitzgerald Lectureship. I was so thrilled that Ray's story could be shared with the whole student body in chapel. Of all the lasting impacts on me, Ray's faith and spirit are some of the most powerful. I am so glad to have the opportunity to pay tribute to him. And to know anew that all that he taught me, the girls, the world, that it will live on. That it will continue to be shared and that it will continue to grow. As I reflected in my comments - God's path for Ray was the path of the cross. And Ray bore that cross so faithfully. God be praised for the witness and testimony of his faithful servant.

This weekend was Lucy's first communion. Oh! The days! It is hard to have Ray miss that one! Lucy was so beautiful. And though her memories of Ray are few her connection and love for him are strong. She was so faithful and so excited for the true faith step. I told her over and over how proud Ray was and how much I knew he was looking down at her with joy.

After the Taylor Lectureship Lucy and I were driving downtown to spend the night at "Dozin' with the Dinos" at the Field Museum and the song, "See you again" came on. "It's been a long day without you my friend and I'll tell you all about it when I see you again..."

Oh Ray, they are long and happy days and I pray that you can see and know the joy of them in heaven.  We will tell you all about them when we see you again.

not alone and not afraid -


"Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Six Years

Loved Ones,

Today marks the sixth anniversary of Ray's death.  This Sunday we met Ray's family for mass, brunch and a visit to Ray's grave.  We all remembered our favorite things about Ray.  When we got in the car to go home the girls said, "Why didn't you tell us this about Daddy?"  The stories we remembered to them were new.

I remember that when Ray was sick I used to think to myself, will I ever be nostalgic for these very hard days? It was so very hard, and so painful, it was difficult to imagine that I would ever long to go back to those times.

As we were decorating the Christmas tree, we listened to a Christmas song we hardly ever listen to, a song that was indelibly marked as being from that time.  I asked Nora, what do you think of when you hear that song?  She said, the hospital.  So it wasn't just me, it was a true relic of those days.  I asked her if it made her feel sad but she just remembered the association, less the feeling.

That song for me will forever be sad.  But I listened to it on repeat that day and many days afterward.  I don't wish for the sadness, but I was moved by the connection.

When Ray died I knew that it would be hard for Lucy to remember the connection she had with her dad so I documented it.  In journal entries written in the months after Ray died, I laid out for her just how she felt about him as a baby.  The things she said. What she remembered.

Six years later, I was right that it is hard to remember the connection to her dad she so longs for.  I am so grateful for that journal!  It is exactly what I hoped it would be, a reminder of how much she was marked by her dad, even at age one!

I reflected often as I wrote that I couldn't believe how well the girls did.  That my only answer was the prayers of so many.  Likewise today, it is by the grace of God and to his glory that we are doing so well. We are grateful to you for the many prayers God answers on our behalf.

January 6th would have been our 14th anniversary.  Always on that day I think of the vows we made. Though we had the traditional service, our vow was just a tiny bit different than the traditional. Instead of vowing till death do us part, our vow was simple.  We vowed to love each other all the days of our life.

All the days of our lives sweet Ray.  We are loving you and remembering you.

not alone and not afraid --


"I will remember my covenant between me and you." Genesis 9:15