Whispers in the Mirror

Posted on

After a long day, I decided to take a hot shower.  You know, the kind that fills the room completely with steam.

As the steam met the ceiling and started to climb down the walls, something special was revealed to me.

At first it wasn’t completely clear, but as the steam thickened, it appeared.

Written on the mirror above April’s vanity, in my youngest daughter’s handwriting, were these words, “I love you mom”.

On the opposite mirror above my sink, written in my oldest daughter’s handwriting, were the words, “Like a lion”.

Time stood still for a moment as I just gazed at this beautiful and unexpected gift.

My girls are amazing!  And my God’s not dead, he’s roaring like a lion!

Look closely.
Look closely

Memories of Mom #4

Posted on Updated on

May 2008 067Dearest Emi and Ava,

As I was walking through the house today looking at all of the things that need to get done, I am reminded of how handy your mom was.

We set out on many projects over our years together and she was always good at jumping right in, even if she’d never done it before.   She didn’t wait on me either.  She was always pretty independent that way.  It was nothing for her to go figure something out.  I think it was all the HGTV shows she watched.

One of our most ambitious was the year we built you all a giant wooden play set that we bought from Sam’s Club.  Her and I pretty much built the whole thing ourselves and it only took us 3 weekends in total.  🙂

Painting, electrical, trim work, flooring, installing fixtures, cleaning, demolition, IMG_6703yard work…. you name it.  She was impressive  in how she organized the projects and didn’t shy away from the tough tasks.

Our biggest projects came when we decided to sell our house and also purchase a fixer-upper rental house in 2012.  It was a LOT of work getting both houses ready, but we tackled it together.  In fact, we worked very well together.  One day, while we were painting it all made sense to me.  I was the broad brush, full of endurance and strength, covering lots of space, and getting things done quickly.  She was the narrow brush, that finely and precisely put it’s paint on the mark.  She had patience and grace in ensuring that the trim and small spaces were done right.  We worked great together!

The house projects were huge and had tons to accomplish.  And for what it was, it was some of our greatest project accomplishments together.

When we moved in to our Robson house, we took on a new challenge with landscaping and yardwork.  Like I said earlier, she didn’t wait for me or my IMG_6381schedule if something needed to be done.  We had a list of things to get done when we moved in and while I was slowly tackling the list, she was ready for some things to be done.  I remember the day I came home and she had placed new curtain fixtures and hung new curtains in Ava’s room.  I said, “Honey, I would have done that for you.”  She responded, “Really?  Would you have? …..When?”  Secretly, I’m glad she handled it.

But that wasn’t it.  I remember she had been asking me for weeks to hang some pictures and of course I was putting it off.  (I don’t know why, but it just isn’t my favorite thing to do.)  I came home and they were hung.  I asked her about it and she just smirked at me.

I also remember the days leading up to a big project at work that had a lot of my attention.  On one Saturday, I was in my office at home when I thought I heard the lawn mower.  I got up and peeked outside the window and who did I see IMG_9071on the riding lawn mower?  Your mom!  I didn’t even know that she knew how to operate it!

And before you start to think I didn’t do anything around the house and your mom had to do everything – I have plenty photos of me doing stuff too! 🙂  We just made a good team!

Like I said  your mom was pretty handy, but she was also independent, organized, inquisitive, and not afraid to try new things or get her hands dirty.

I hope you inherited some of these great traits.

I love you! ~Dad

Why I Love My Church #8

Posted on Updated on

April’s Celebration of Life.

I only have one word – SPECTACULAR!

I have never been to a celebration of life (funeral) service like this one before.  I hope that all I attend in the future are just like it.

In fact, you can watch the service on the video at the bottom of this post.

My church family pulled out all the stops and went so above and beyond that I am sure I will be thanking them for the rest of my life.

Pastors Jamie and Johann headed up the planning process with several others in support.

We held the main service at Cross Church – Pinnacle Hills where April, I and the girls attended.

Celebration of Life 1Think about this – the service was on a late Monday morning, yet there was a full 40+ person choir, full worship band, A/V staff, and building support staff there to bless us.  Most of these people were volunteers that had to take time off of work or away from other activities.

Who does this?  Our Cross Church Family – that’s who!

Every person that was asked to do something special, did it.  Without hesitation.  Without question. They honored us with their time and talents in an amazing way.

Before the service officially started:

  • Pastor Johann Acuna soloed Cornerstone on violin along with the band.
  • Nikki Randall soloed Healing is in Your Hands along with the band.  This was one of April’s favorites.
  • Beth Gagliano soloed Arise and Be Comforted along with the band.

Once the service started, Pastor Julio Arriola delivered an amazing “I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy” with the choir and band.  Later in the service they also blessed us by leading the attendees in worship with 10,000 Reasons and Amazing Grace, which is what April wanted – Jesus to be worshiped!

Celebration of Life 4My worship bandmates were there and provided incredible instrumentation.  I love these guys and am so grateful to have them in my life.

Pastor Perry Gagliano (who is also my small group leader) did a fantastic job opening and closing the services for us.  What a blessing he and his wife have been to us.

Pastor Tim Hill (our very own cousin that we are so proud of) represented our family by reading the 23rd Psalm.

Mollie Duddleston, Director of Women’s Ministries and April’s Bible Study leader, delivered amazing words of encouragement and talked about April’s life.  She has been an incredible witness and mentor to April and blessed us tremendously with her beautiful words and support.

Then came the crown of the service.  April wanted to ensure that the Gospel was preached at her service and it was her hope and desire that her life would be a testimony and inspiration to others.  Pastor Jamie Lantzsch delivered on that request with full force and GOD showed up!  As a result there were several salvations both at the service and post the service.  Glory be to God!

Celebration of Life 3Then, one of my favorite moments at about an hour in at the close of the celebration.  The Cross Church choir and band played “Thou O Lord”, one of April’s favorites and requests.  OH MY!  It was simply incredible and breath-taking.

Following the conclusion of the service and a time for attendees to pay their respects to April and the family, we had a brief private grave site service for the family and close friends.  Pastors Jamie and Tim provided words of encouragement and prayer at the site.  Then we returned to the church and they fed our family.

Again, I have one word – SPECTACULAR!  But not just about the celebration this time.  I use this word to describe my church family.

They have blessed us beyond measure and have lifted us up.  And rather than this be a time of despair and sorrow, they helped turn this in to a time of celebration and joy!

I miss my wife every moment, but I will always look back with fondness on this celebration.  The salvations gave it purpose.  Our church, family and friends rallied with love.  What a great day!

Who does this?  Our Cross Church Family – that’s who!

This is just another reason Why I Love My Church!

Why I Love My Church #7

Posted on Updated on

Pastoral Care.

As I said in #6, several pastors visited us when we took April to the hospital and then on to hospice – each more than once.  They prayed over us, encouraged us, hugged on us, and lifted us up.

Once April passed at 4:30am, Pastor Jamie Lantzsch (Why I Love My Church #2) was there immediately to console the family and offer support.  He then went with us to the house and stood right behind me when I told our girls that their mom had gone to Heaven.  While I think we had done a great job preparing our girls for this moment, uttering those words was nearly impossible for me.

But as I glanced back, I was reassured to see Pastor Jamie standing there with me.  Then he also prayed with the girls, family and I.  A moment like that will never be forgotten.

Photo Mar 20, 10 48 20 AMHe then stayed for the rest of the morning until about noon, hanging out in the background, talking with family, and most importantly talking with and playing with the girls and their cousin.

Who does this?  Our Cross Church pastors – that’s who.

Pastor Jamie (as well as other pastors and their wives) stayed in constant communication with us over the coming days and helped me tremendously in planning April’s Celebration of Life (along with Pastor Johann).  But I’ll cover the actual celebration in another post.

This is just another reason Why I Love My Church!

Why I Love My Church #6

Posted on

It’s been a little bit since I’ve posted one of these, but only because what my church did for my family and I through April’s passing simply overwhelms me.  I had so many other things to talk about when it comes to my church, but I have to put them on hold to talk about this.

Throughout the entire journey that our family went on with April’s CANcer, my church family was there at ever step.  They supported us.  Encouraged us.  Prayed incessantly for us.  They lifted us.  Testified to us.  Strengthened us.  They went over and above for us. They cared for us.   They checked on us constantly.  They surrounded us with love.

And once April passed – they didn’t stop.  All of the above continues – even today.

Photo Mar 19, 11 26 23 PMOur supporters ranged from people that knew us extremely well to those we barely knew personally at all.  They were active in our journey WITH us.  What kind of people do this?  Our Cross Church family – that’s who.

In the hours leading up to April’s reunion with Jesus, five different pastors and a whole host of church members stopped by at various times to check on us and support us.  They prayed for us, supported our family and lifted us up.

One of my FAVORITE moments was when we were at hospice.  I received a text from Johann Acuna asking if some of the worship band and choir could stop by later that evening.  I said yes.  About 8p, over 20 choir and band members filed in.  They began singing outside of April’s room – Amazing Grace and 10,000 Reasons.  April was facing away, but perked up and asked me, “What’s that?”  I told her to look and motioned to the door.  She craned around and was the most alert she’d been all day, except when Ava and Emi came to visit her earlier.  She smiled and listened.

It was a beautiful and blessed moment for her, for me, and for our family.  She passed away a little more than 8 hours later.

Photo Mar 19, 7 54 33 PMSomething else that amazed me that night was that after they left us, a couple other families stopped them and asked them to sing to their loved one too.  The group didn’t hesitate and sang Amazing Grace twice more that night.  One of the people they sang to passed away only two hours later.  What a blessing they were to our family and these other families.

But again, I ask, who does this?  Our Cross Church family – that’s who.

There are many many more stories to tell about these hours, but I will save some more for future posts.

This is just another reason Why I Love My Church!

A Team April Favorite!

Posted on

As we go on this CANcer journey, I must say that we have an AMAZING GROUP of supporters!  And our supporters, young and old, encourage us in a number of different and special ways.

One of our favorites this week came to us in the form of an instagram video from Matt, Christie and Scarlett Martin!  We love it!  #GoTeamApril Scarlett Style!

Thank you all for your conitnued support!  #GoTeamApril


Why I Love My Church #1

Posted on Updated on

Photo Feb 13, 7 13 10 PMMy church family goes above and beyond to pray for us!

Last week, April had a big week regarding chemo treatments.  Some of the ladies from our church self organized and came to our home on Thursday night to pray in person with April.

I watched as several women entered our doors to intercede on behalf of my wife. Women that took time away from their families and other activities because praying for my wife was important to them. Some knew April well, some didn’t.  But for over an hour, they stood in the gap and lifted April up in prayer.  Wow!  What a blessing!

I can’t even begin to express what this means/meant to us.  And this is one reason why I love my church!