A few years after the death of our son Adam, Linda and I made the decision to move from our little three-bedroom home and into a townhouse. We were depleted of energy, straining daily to understand and cope with our heavy grief. We wanted to run away from our sorrows, to escape the pain and confusion. We ran. It followed. Yes, we sold our little three-bedroom home with its abundance of storage, friendly neighborhood, all of our beautiful gardens and the swimming pool. We left behind a decade of work remodeling our little home, creating and tending to our many gardens, and most of all we left behind the rooms where our children lived and grew.
We needed a change… more space in our hearts and minds to cope with the enormity of our loss. We didn’t realize it at the time but relocating did not remove any the strain or the pain we were immersed in. It couldn’t. As we carried our possessions into our new townhome, a split-entry style with staircases both up and down from the front door, we discovered that first day that the banister to the stairway leading up to the main level had slivers. Nasty slivers. “Well, THAT will have to be fixed right away!” I thought.
That was in 1999. I had been attempting to write this very book that you are reading, struggling in my heavy grief and pain, straining to put to words the experiences of my life at that time. I had been writing since shortly after Adam’s death. Now, after more than a decade of living in our townhome, we have come to readdress the issue of that banister. It was still producing nasty little slivers and was really getting on Linda’s nerves.
I guess after 10 years of pulling little stinging shards of wood out of one’s hand can make one a bit irritated. Shortly after moving into our townhome, Linda and I began attending Lakewood Evangelical Free Church, now called Rockpoint Church. Through the nurturing of this fine family of Christian people, we found a new place to worship the Lord and be reintroduced into the mainstream of life. Our grief followed. So did the slivers.
One day, while chatting with one of the congregation members about the needs of our little flock, discussing the possibilities of helping those who can’t help themselves, Linda came upon the idea of having someone else fix our dangerous banister, since it seemed Mark was either not able or interested in doing the job. Enter Bill Bartolic, the general-contractor. Bill and Linda talked about how our little church could form a group to help others in our church and in the community with house projects that were too much for them. Linda mentioned our banister and Bill’s eyes lit up. “Let me take a look at it and maybe I can come up with something for you.” Bill said with enthusiasm. Linda’s eyes lit up. I went to the coffee bar.
A few weeks later Bill showed up with pencil, pad and tools needed to find a solution to our banister problem. Much talk ensued, and a full tray of cinnamon rolls later, Bill’s assessment was complete. His ideas were grand. So grand that we had to dismiss them due to the high cost involved. We scrubbed the project and left the banister as is. Which, at this writing, still stands in our hall stairway waiting to inflict those stinging slivers to whoever dares slide their hand while navigating up or down. But from that first encounter between Bill and Linda was born “Servants On Call” a helps ministry now in full swing at Rockpoint Church.
Through Servants On Call we have been blessed to help many people with physical difficulties or age restrictions in the care of their homes and property. The process was developed that would offer anyone the opportunity to call the church office and request a representative from Servants On Call to contact them about a need, usually something minor but outside the range or ability to complete.
Such was the call in 2010, when Dr. Lisanne D’Andrea-Winslow, who wrote the Forward to my book "From Mayhem To Miracles". Lisa had requested help at her home. Suffering from the death of her husband John, Lisa had become overwhelmed with the burden of taking care of a two-story, four-bedroom home with huge yard and many gardens. She was alone in her work. It was too much work for one person, too much for one with a broken heart.
The church office contacted Linda and me about Lisa’s request. We called Lisa and made arrangements to conduct the initial triage assessment of her needs and find solutions to them. What we found was far more than broken door latches, pictures needing hanging and children’s swing set repairs. We discovered a deeply wounded, broken heart… a broken life.
Lisa’s life was a parallel to our own in many ways, struggling with the deep sorrow, pain and confusion that the death of a loved one brings to a heart. We were connected immediately by our grief stories. Lisa showed us a book of poetry about her grief journey after the death of her son Bennett that she had written ten years earlier and we were struck to tears at the intensity, clarity and raw emotions that poured out from her broken heart and onto the pages. Linda began to tear up within the first few paragraphs she read. I mentioned to Lisa that I suspected her book would be added to our Love Baskets. I was correct. Linda confirmed my suspicion and had me read the book also. Within the first page I too was in tears. That book, “New Beginnings” is now in every Love Basket we send.
At this writing, Dr. D’Andrea-Winslow has written and published six books. When hearing that, Linda stated, “Mark is writing a book too.” Lisa insisted I send her a copy of my very rough manuscript, nearly a decade old by then, and offered to help me with the writing of it. After reading my manuscript, Lisa graciously offered to not only mentor me along the way but to edit and help publish my book, this book.
A simple insignificant thing like an old banister with slivers brought us together… under the loving care and guidance of God, miraculously, to help me complete a calling on my life back in 1997 when I heard my son’s voice say, “…tell the story of my life…” God’s love never fails. Sometimes it may take years to witness His loving handiwork, but the evidence of His presence is everywhere. Truly… Love Never Fails.
Every story in this chapter tells of the faithfulness of God to a hurting heart needing healing. In the days, months and even years after the death of a loved one, the pain, confusion, doubt and fear reside within us as a new addition to our very being. God performed many miracles confirming His great love for us in the early days after Adam’s death. These events, as you have read, were very affirming to us and provided comfort and healing. These miracles continue to this very moment. They continue to come as we continue to seek God and look for the messages in the language that we can hear and understand. These messages are each a unique, specific miracle.
Miracle… the very word miracle conjures up ideas and visions of mystical and magical events, inexplicable and mysterious. When looking through the eyes of fear, uncertainty and doubt miracles simply may not appear to exist at all. However, when looking through the eyes of faith we can learn to listen and hear God speak to our own miracle-language, to help us unlock the mysteries that surround us each and every day.
“Miracles happen today, and it’s because of Faith. Please, believe in miracles.”
~ Adam Triplett
Excerpt from Adam’s sermon on Love in 1995
Wildwood Church, Mahtomedi, MN
“Don’t be afraid. Just believe.”
~ Jesus Christ
Mark 5:36 (NIV)
Here is a list of books written by Dr. Lisanne D'Andrea-Winslow:
In Praise Of Creation
West Of Boston
New Beginnings A Memorial
Finding Eden Within
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