Sunday, January 20, 2013

Pete & Joy

This week, my friends Pete and Joy candidly share how God is working to blend their lives together after having both lost their spouses to cancer and a heart condition. 


When my son, Collin, was born by C-section in 1989, the doctors also removed a twenty pound tumor that we had no idea existed.  My wife Laurel underwent emergency surgery a week later for a massive infection and spent seven weeks in the hospital. The prognosis was a certain recurrence of the cancer and a year to live. …Laurel survived for the next twenty years and went Home to Jesus on January 17th, 2010.

Laurel and I called cancer a terrible, wonderful gift. It was terrible in its effects on her body, but wonderful in its effects on our lives. We talked many times about it and decided that, although there were many specific days we would have liked to trade away, we would not trade our journey with cancer. It deepened our marriage, our relationship with the Father, and our relationships with others. I would not be half the man I am today if not for my life with Laurel and cancer.

I have known many losses in my life, and likely you have too. My Dad died several years ago, my brother’s wife a few years ago. The most recent was my Mom. She died at age 82.  Each tributary of loss has added to the river of grief, and to the knowledge that my Lord loves me and comforts me as he promised he would in John 14.

Isaiah 61: 3


Sudden loss of my husband, Bryon, from a heart condition is what I experienced at the age of 45. We had 2 small children at home.  With sudden loss, I have found, comes regrets. What about that silly argument you had had with your spouse just a few days earlier? What if you had come home sooner, could you have saved him? Questions like these haunted me over and's funny, in a way, how we can be so grace oriented with others and yet not with ourselves. 

Bryon had doctored with one of the best cardiologists in the Twin Cities. So I knew after Bryon had passed that I had to call his doctor and thank him for the excellent care that he had received.   How could I do this? It's because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has ordained the number of days we are given before we have yet lived one. Yet I struggled with my own guilt. Thankfully that very same cardiologist was able to help me.  I met with him to look over the autopsy results. He reassured me that I could not have prevented this. With his reassurance and the Lord's own work in my life, I've been more set free from the guilt.     

God showed Himself to me over and over that first year. I felt upheld by the prayers of many, many friends who I knew and many that I've never met, but they had heard my story and began e-mailing me. His faithfulness was clear as I lost my Mom only 4 months after I lost my husband. His evidences of care were shown in the smallest of details. He is SO Faithful!

Pete & Joy on their family honeymoon to LegoLand

            …And so we come together in God’s plan to journey on from here. He has a plan for us. He has blessed us with each other. Blessed is not used lightly here. There are too many good things about our marriage, our kids, and our support system to flippantly say, “We are blessed”. Bryon and Laurel are talked about in our home freely. We remember our parents openly with each other. When the Twins head to spring training, we talk about Joy’s dad. When we hang the stockings by the fireplace, we talk about Pete’s mom. Laurel’s quilts hang on the walls and Bryon’s hunting and fishing trophies do too. These precious ones may not be here physically, but they are very much a part of our lives.
We are thankful for this journey, and anticipating what the Lord will do with us.

Pete & Joy lead a GriefShare group in St. Cloud, MN.  They write, “Coming along side of the hurting is a way to till the soil and seeds of grief in our lives for a bit of beauty to emerge in others.”


  1. Thank you Jenny. Pete and Joy’s journey continues to thicken the lives of those around them. I am blessed to read their words. God’s ways are mysterious and His love is solid. Laurel and Bryon handed hope over to those close to them. The hope of what is to come. The hope that this isn’t all there is. It is that hope I catch when I am around people like my brother Pete and his wife Joy. Their faith and honest processing of the struggle of loss encourages me to live a deeper, more purposed life. God be praised.
    I read your bio as well and subscribed to your journey. Your authenticity and ‘discussions’ with God encourage me to keep talking, asking, and listening to God.
    I am thankful your mother chose to fight for your life! Humanity is all the better for it! On this sanctity of life Sunday your story resonates indeed. Praise God!

    1. Thank you for your kind comments and encouragement Jerry. I am blessed to know Pete & Joy. Surely their story has become part of my own. My desire is that my life and my writing point others towards the grace of God. His power is made perfect in weakness. His grace is sufficient. He is above all things and holds all things together--especially in our struggle. Blessings!