Our Story

Our Story

In June of 2013, our lives experienced the incomprehensible. The death of our nearly 19-year old son, Derek. The description of having life literally turned upside down would lack the language needed to communicate the intense loss. C.S. Lewis has fittingly described the death of a loved one as “an amputation”. An amputation of what? The heart. In our case, death of a vibrant perfectly healthy young man came without any warning. A tragic accident amputated a portion of our family’s heart. The part of our hearts that functioned with relentless love for Derek.

As we (Rich, Kelly, and our youngest son, Evan) were forced to navigate an unspeakable grief, we were surrounded by our family, our church family, and many friends. Yet the nights were long, lonely, and the separation from Derek, was the reality of the seemingly impossible journey we were now on. 

The “walk though the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4) came with a promise from God’s Word. “...Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” We gut-wrenchingly began relying on His many promises made to us in Scripture.

As we now find ourselves 8 years along our grief journey, we truly have experienced the comfort promised in Psalm 23:4. The ache of the separation from Derek remains, yet God’s comfort remains. 

It is our desire to live out 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Specifically, Rich and I desire to comfort other married couples through the comfort that we have received from God. We also desire to equip and encourage pulling content from our experiences thus far on the real-life grief journey we are still on.

 

Foundation of Living Hope Mountain Respite/Joshua 4:23-24

“For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”

This marriage respite retreat ministry is affirmation and the culmination of God communicating in January 2017 to us from Isaiah 43:18-19. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

This will be the fulfillment of the Lord “doing a new thing”. We understood the Isaiah Scripture given back in 2017 to specifically mean that Rich and I would serve side-by-side in a ministry that would take our story and give God glory through it. We can confidently move forward in this ministry knowing that God is the Author of the idea, and His power will write the story for His glory.
Another marriage respite retreat ministry affirmation from 2017 is a memorial currently mounted in our home.  The memorial is a photo and an altar with 12 stones placed in sand. This is from our 6-month stay in Florida that year.
The sand on the altar is actually sand from our favorite beach spot in Florida. We experienced a touch of God’s healing there upon our own grief. To celebrate and acknowledge His faithfulness, the Lord gave us the passage of Scripture from Joshua Chapters 3-4.

 This passage details God’s provision and display of His power when He cut off the raging waters of the Jordan River during the flood stage, and provided a path for the ark of the covenant and the entire nation of Israel to cross the Jordan safely. After their safe crossing, the Lord instructed Joshua to have 12 men and have them go back and collect one stone each (12 stones) from the middle of the Jordan. They were to place the 12 stones at their camp site as a memorial to the people of Israel to help them remember God’s faithfulness of provision.

The memorial in our home has 12 stones carefully placed in the sand. It’s our reminder. His provision for us was not through the raging flood waters of the Jordan River, but through the raging reality of grief. 

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