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Middle School and Life Update

May 14, 2014

Yesterday was parent night to learn about middle school, and all Vail will face next year. It is hard to believe she is so old, and as Shannon and I processed all the changes both internally and externally she will face, we became sentimental. How could this little baby girl be so old? She is still at that precious place between childhood and adulthood, childhood and teenager really. At times, she is so mature and capable that she is like any adult peer. But a few hours later she’ll curl up next to me and need to be held like a little girl and told that everything is going to be okay.

But Shannon’s point to me made all the difference in the world. She reminded me how incredibly fortunate I have been to be able to be home with the kids the last handful of years. Although I often have loathed carpool, kid-discipline, and household duties, I would not give anything for the deep connection that has been fostered between me and the kids during this time.

The healing process for us has been so graceful and gentle, gradual yet persistent. It is hard to believe it has been almost three years since Sydney died, over five since she was diagnosed. But where God withheld a mother from them, he gave them more of a father.

And then the miracle of a new wife, with little brother in tow. For those of you who didn’t know Shannon’s background, she lost her husband Scott in a car accident, 4/2/12. I began dating her in January 2013 and we were married in December (see awesome wedding video here, and photographer’s blog here, scroll down to December 2013). This woman was a gift from heaven for me. God knew what I needed in ways that I did not. I have felt so attended to, cared about, respected and honored by this woman. Below is an excerpt from my journal during our dating:

“Most of the time, the sweetest nectar of life eludes us. We know it is there, and we are seeking it on many fronts. Occasionally, we get tastes of it, and it is pure joy. This usually comes from an unlikely source, and occurs by surprise. Often we are searching in the wrong places, and end up with a counterfeit, which leaves a bitter aftertaste.

But, once in a while, once in a lifetime maybe, and again quite by surprise, the heavens open directly over us, and a waterfall of the sweet nectar of heaven crashes on our shoulders like nothing we have ever experienced. Step to the left and it follows; move to the right, and it shifts again. The taste is so sweet, and the poignancy and power so overwhelming, that there is nothing to do but fall on your knees, raise your hands to the sky, and praise The One who is so clearly responsible.”

I think a lot of me has even struggled to believe it, which may be why I haven’t blogged much about it until now. When we are burned in life, it is hard to learn to open up again.

So we are in the process of blending and molding our families together. We have some challenges for sure, but we also have some advantages. We know what it is like to be a single parent. We both know what it is like to lose someone.

I was talking with my friend yesterday who has cancer. He said he would never wish this on anyone except in one respect. He said cancer had taught him to loosen his grip on life. “I realized that I have no control really…. It’s going to be what it’s going to be.”

As Shannon and I (and four kids) step forward in this new marriage and life together, I pray that we can hold on to this. I pray that we would stay in touch with our stories, where we’ve come, let these stories slay our anxieties about the future and hold our hands open to what comes our way, understanding that God is in charge, and he cares for us.

I really feel like the luckiest man in the world now. I love my life, I love every day. I get to be around for the kids, have frequent dates out and movie nights at home with my new bride, work flexibly, and pursue learning at a nearby seminary on the side.

God has provided generously for us in every possible way. I am so amazed and grateful. And again, so much of it has been through all of you. Phone calls, texts, meals, prayers, visits, etc. We have the best family and friends in the world.

Thanks for walking with us,

Todd

From → Stories

14 Comments
  1. Mary Beth Bradshaw permalink

    Thank you so much for sharing your life in this way with all of us, some whom you know, and some not. But we all benefit. Happy for these new changes in your lives.

  2. Sadee permalink

    Congratulations!!!!! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. God encouraged my heart so much today as I have wept through your story, pictures, and video. My mom died when I was 8 years old. My dad was never able to grieve, and is still stuck in many ways in 1985. I have learned so much from your journey. Thank you. And I am SO HAPPY for you & Shannon & your beautiful children!

  3. Joy Mast permalink

    Hey Todd! Just want to thank you for this. I’m a friend of Trey’s from DC (and Tripp and Anna) and you spoke to my writers’ group a while back in Charlotte. I run a weight-loss ministry at a church here in Charlotte and the timing of your journal entry is perfect for my teaching tomorrow. I hope you don’t mind if I share. The course is at Releasity.org if you’re interested. Thank you!! Joy Mast

  4. So thankful for how you all have been held so tenderly through the last 5 years. 🙂

  5. Lindsey eich permalink

    Thanks Todd for sharing. I’m so happy for you guys.

  6. The wedding pictures are the definition of beauty!
    Very happy for your families.

  7. Richard Gaylord permalink

    Love this Todd, so happy for you and your dear family. Love, DAD

  8. Richard Gaylord permalink

    Forwarded to Mont and asked that he print it out for mother and dad.

  9. 10littlegrands permalink

    We are so happy for all of you> Lynda and Johnny McConnell

  10. Linda Britt permalink

    God Bless Your Family. You remind us that God is truly in charge of the story!

  11. Cassandra Wry-Ridlinghafer permalink

    Amazing, Todd! Congratulations to both you and Shannon! I was so glad to see Sarah and Robert in the pictures, too.

  12. Taylor Wickline permalink

    Todd,

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It is heart warming and just fills me with joy to know that God has restored so much of what you lost. I have hopefully expressed it before, but I cannot tell you the impact your story has had on my life. I think of you and Sydney literally probably every month if not more – stories you shared when she was sick and all the stories afterwards. Some of them are emblazoned in my memory. I came across another old letter from Sydney recently. I think I will send them to you because they are such a physical representation of her spirit. You can just feel her through the letter. We sort of missed our time to be close friends. We spent more time together towards my graduation, and yet she just wrote these sweet notes that summer that made a person feel like she wanted to be your best friend because you were so cool! I digress, but I think I’ll just take a photo of the letter so I always “have” it and then send it to you. Your story is so inspiring, and I still think you need to write a book! No matter what any of us are going through, watching you go through this journey is strengthening in so many ways to all of us. Shannon seems like an amazing lady, and I am so happy for you and the kids! Taylor

    Date: Wed, 14 May 2014 13:43:37 +0000 To: taylorwickline@hotmail.com

  13. Steve Montgomery permalink

    Wow. You light the path ahead of me and my three children with such beautiful brilliance. I have read this particular post now countless times. Such happy times. I am SO happy for you. Now printed, this one sits upon my desk as a literal rock of reference. Your story, the eloquence in the way you have shared it these past several years and the soulful depth from where it comes is a gift and provides hope like I can’t even describe. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, my good man.

    You, Shannon and your new blended family most certainly have the Peace of God with you. You make a difference in passing it on.

    Steve

  14. Todd Roe permalink

    Todd, I don’t use social media and only found out about Sydney a few days ago. I was telling friends about her though we hadn’t talked for years. I found some of the most hilarious letters that she wrote me after working that summer in Breck. She mentioned you in all of them. What a treasure Sydney was but I didnt really appreciate her fully until reading those letters. Then I found out as i tried to look her up. Please contact me: futurefaith@gmail.com Truly, Todd Roe

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