Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 413

Day 413 - Final Entry

"Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalm 37:4 NASB

Easter 2011
 Malia - 5 yrs old

 Bailey - 7 yrs old

 Caden - 11 yrs old

Greg - still young at heart!
I thought Easter would be a good day to write the final entry for Informings. This was the first holiday the kids and I faced alone last year so there are deep emotional ties which I’ll never forget. But more so, Easter has been and will always be the day we remember and celebrate what our Great King accomplished by rising from the grave. Jesus gained victory over death and broke the chains of sin so that we might have life, even life abundantly.

I have assigned this my final entry because I honestly believe I have an abundant life. The kids and I are doing seemingly well which by no means should anyone conclude I’ve figured out grief, loss, and pain. This also does not mean I won’t be taught a thousand things in the upcoming years about the aforementioned topics. And finally this does not mean that I don’t go to bed each night a single father who didn’t ask to be single. What it does mean however is by God’s grace, and the endless support from family and friends, the kids and I have accepted our new life. We’ve settled in to our new “normal.” We’re laughing more than we’re crying, we’re focused on what’s before us not what we lost, we’re watching each other grow up and grow old.  Leigh Ann will never be forgotten ( but we're talking about her less.

It’s a challenge to live this life and some days better than others. But isn’t that true for all of us? And thus my primary reason for ending the blog. The heartache has been replaced with the mundane. My schedule is probably dominated by the same things as yours – God, work, kids, house, activities. My problems are probably similar to your problems – schedules, money, stress, aging. And my thoughts are probably your thoughts – I hope my kids turn out alright, anytime You want to come back Jesus is fine with me, is it Monday already? I’ve always believed blogs, twitter, etc. to be vehicles for sharing things out of the ordinary. Thankfully the kids and I are drifting ever so slowly back to ordinary.

The “why” questions still remain. Most likely they’ll always remain. I figure the goal isn’t to have the questions answered as much as it is to take the days I have left and draw near to God knowing there’s still work to be done. I want to bask in His grace, run to Him in my pain, worship Him with my life, and share His love. I want to understand how to wait on the Lord because His timing is perfect, to pursue my dreams and yet accomplish His will, to live without and yet truthfully claim I have everything I need. There is still much I want to learn about the One I will spend forever with.

The blog was incredible for me to be a part of. What started as a vehicle to release some raw emotions and random thoughts ended up being such an intimate part of my journey. I’ll always be able to look back on how God revealed Himself during that first year. More importantly I’ll have something to give the kids someday so they can see how good God was to us in our deepest times of need.

Never would I have imagined so many people would want to hear about me and the kids and yet now I don’t know what last year would have looked like without each of you. Your prayers, your kind words, your wisdom. Many of us won’t cross paths until Heaven but please know I look forward to that day when we will meet face to face. You have a huge “thank you” coming your way.

Though no more posts will be added I will not delete the blog. Some of you know people who are just beginning their journey in grief and have referred them to the site. Though all I have is my experience maybe it can serve as a resource. Feel free to pass my contact information along as well (

Thank you so very much for walking by my side.



Prayer Requests:
- Continue to pray for Kate McRae. 
- Prayers for Caden as he is getting baptized in May!
- Prayers for me waiting on God.

"Father, what a journey thus far and yet it's just begun.  Thank You for the community of people who have surrounded the kids and me with pure love.  I know one day when it's all said and done answers will be provided, mysteries will be revealed.  Until then may we walk by faith and not by sight.  Thank You for the Risen Savior who saw fit to save this sinner.  I owe Him my all.  I love You."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 401

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Day 401 - The Tonkinsons love Chick-Fil-A!  So much so we made the website!

The kids and I went to our local Chick-Fil-A for a wonderful Valentines Day dinner.  We had such a good time I decided to write them and "thank you" note.  Apparently they found the note worthy enough that a representative called last week and asked if she could put it on their website.  I'm putting this up only so that the kids will have this years from now. They think they're rock stars!  Funny.

"Father, thanks so much for an extended feeling of wanting to live in the moment.  Thank you for the little things in life like making a neat memory with the kids.  Thanks for thinking about us when so many other things must clamour for your attention.  I love You."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 397

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Day 397 - I'm always interested in hearing people's "stories," our journeys in life where God has taken us.  Mine began when I was a freshman at ASU and was introduced to the idea of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through a campus ministry - Campus Crusade for Christ.  Little did I know then how much I would need Him over the next 25 years.  Tonight the local chapter of Campus Crusade held a benefit dinner and I was able to reconnect with several alum.  But the highlight of the evening came when I got to spend a few minutes with the co-founder of Crusade - Vonnette Bright. She was the keynote speaker and though I had been on staff with Crusade (for a very short time) I had never met her.  I've always felt a connection to her and her husband (Dr. Bill Bright) because they're a part of my spiritual heritage. 

I was able to catch up with her after her message and we ended up talking for several minutes.  She was genuinely interested in my life, my story, and wanted to know how the kids and I were dealing with the loss of Leigh Ann.  I will remember her kindness for a long time.  I drove home inspired to continue living for the Lord and somewhat excited that while I don't know what the future holds I do know God's love is real and He has a plan for me and the kids.  That's about all I can ask for. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 395

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Day 395 - Most mornings I've got just a few minutes to myself before things get going.  I do a very lame workout, shower, get ready, and by that time one of the grandparents is here to get the kids to school.  The routine begins at 5:30 a.m. and is usually "kid-free."  This morning Malia wandered into my room at 5:45 a.m., soon followed by Caden, then Bailey.  By 6:30 a.m. the day was in full swing.  Here's to coffee and doughnuts!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 394

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Day 394 - Malia started soccer last week.  I have to start practicing my "GOOOOOOOOOAL!"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 391

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Day 391 - Since March 6th I've had a very real transition from living in the past to focusing on the present.  This has been both challenging and freeing.  To get up each day and focus on what's infront of you rather than dwell on what you once had is challenging.  It means you must let go.  Over time you must eventually say "good bye."  And saying "good bye" to someone you were married to for 13 years is heart-wrenching.  It's also a great opportunity for the evil one to step in and claim life doesn't have to be like that.  He wants you to believe you can live the rest of your days in the past continually wishing for things that will never come to pass.  And if you choose to move forward he tries to attack you with feelings of guilt as though you're letting your loved one down because you're not spending every second of the day thinking about them.  I'm confident Leigh would laugh hard at the notion of wanting me and the kids to spend the rest of our lives focusing on memories of her. Nonetheless it's extremely difficult.  Nobody wants to let go. 

With that said I've tried hard to adjust my thinking from past to present, and I believe God is honoring that decision.  A few ways He's showed up this past week:

The Word - For Lent I decided to stop watching t.v. past 9 p.m.  I know that sounds trivial compared to those who are fasting or draping themselves with sackcloth and ashes, but those two hours after the kids go to bed before I call it a night are moments for me to unwind and relax.  Unfortunately without the dulling sensation of watching mindless television for two hours what's a guy to do?  So I've been filling my nights with other things - mainly sleep (go figure), and reading the Scriptures.  God has allowed me to have some rich times with Him, most recently a couple of days ago when I was wide awake at 1 a.m. with nothing to do (t.v. not an option!). Amazing what He can say to us when we're forced to listen.  I've been dealing with a situation as of late that has required patience and in the middle of the night my eyes were directed to Psalm 37:5 - "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him." Nothing magical, just God saying, "I'm here, I'm real, and I'm in control, so get some sleep." 

Work - I'm blessed to have a tremendous work environment that I love being a part of.  In addition to being able to teach the Bible to high school students every day, I have opportunities to counsel, preach, and lead.  God is allowing me to use my skill set and that comes with great amounts of satisfaction.  I was able to challenge our students this week in chapel to consider how they face temptation when they're in the wilderness (Lk 4).  Amongst some positive feedback was a senior who came to me in tears asking for prayer because that's exactly where he's at - in the wilderness.  Satisfying to know God's Word doesn't ever come back void.  Recently I've been able to lend my wisdom to our administration as to what the Bible program at our high school might look like in the immediate and distant future.  Satisfying to know your opinion counts.  Last week I challenged some of my juniors/seniors to go out and share their faith with people who don't know the Lord.  I won't share all that happened but sufficed to say it was an amazing afternoon when I read their papers on how God used them to reach a lost world.  Satisfying to know the generation behind us still desires to let their lights shine.

Kids - God has used my kids to draw me closer to Him.  The morning of April 1st I was wakened at 3:30 a.m. to some noise in the hallway.  Upon investigating I discovered Caden outside my bedroom door lining up Dixie cups, dozens of them.  Had his plan gone unnoticed he would have set up 180 cups and filled several of them with water so as to "trap" me in my room!  Both he and I were bummed when I ruined his wonderful attempt to prank his dad.  Certainly a time when I wish I was a heavy sleeper.  I drove to work so thankful that though the kids have been to hell and back they're still choosing to look at the glass being half-full.  God gave me hope through Dixie cups at 3:30 a.m.

So we press on.  

"Father, thank You for the opportunties to know You and make You known.  Thank You for showing up in so many ways this week.  You deserve my unashamed devotion."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 384

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Day 384 - Spent the morning with our church, delivering food to the less fortunate.  I didn't know how the kids would respond but they ended up having a great time.  When we were finished Caden wanted to know if there was anything else we could do for this neighborhood.  I've been trying to help the kids understand that sharing the Gospel includes both word and deed.  I want them to desire serving others.  Today was a step in the right direction.

Malia wanted a chance to pull the food wagon!

Bailey checking how many boxes of cookies he had left!

Malia liked handing out bags of food better than pulling the wagon!

Bailey whistling while he works!

Checking to see if anyone was home!
It's been three weeks since Leigh's "anniversary."  Year two has been a steady dose of the continual adjustment of being a single father.  Daily reminders coming in the form of fatigue, loneliness, and stress.  The decisions to make are endless, the kids' needs are constant. 

Though often seemingly silent I know God has been with us.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 377

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Day 377 - Kids were able to enjoy a few days at Disney with their grandparents.  I joined them on the last day and had a blast! 

Bailey bought an autograph book but instead of filling it with signatures he used it as a journal.  I was so impressed!  He spent a good chunk of time just writing away.  Caden completed his "Tour of Disney" by conquering the Tower of Terror - the last ride he'd never been on in all his trips.  And would you believe me if I told you my 5 year-old, princess-loving, sweet daughter went on every ride she could?! Indiana Jones, Thunder Mountain Railroad, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Space Mountain!!  She'd leave the ride grinning ear-to-ear saying, "It makes my tummy tingly!"

Nice knowing you Toontown!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 370

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Day 370 - Had the privilege of officiating a beautiful outdoor wedding today.  Weddings are such a pleasure to be a part of - the bride and groom are nervously excited, the parents are cautiously optimistic, friends all dressed to the nines.  Those who have been married know what lies ahead - among the good times there will also be times of disagreements, mundane nights, boring dinners, battle royales.  But for a few hours we forget all of that as we look at a radiant bride and stunning groom who are thrilled to think about spending their lives together. 

This week I also began the unit on engagement in the Marriage/Family section of my Bible class.  We're spending time discussing God's ideal way to view marriage, the roles of husbands and wives, and whom you should date.  We're learning from the Word about God providing Adam with a "suitable helper" to assist in ruling the world (Gen 1 & 2) and what Adam's reaction was when he fist laid eyes on Eve.  How stoked he was to have someone to go through life with (Gen 2:23). 

Marriage has been on my mind as of late and the truth is I miss having a helpmate.  The intimacy factor for sure but more so just having someone to do life with.  From cleaning the house and shopping to attending weddings and having dinner with friends.  This weekend I wanted to hear the voice of someone other than my kids when it was time for bed.  I wanted to watch a movie with someone lying on my shoulder other than Malia.  I wanted to discuss the future with someone other than my financial planner.  I wanted to dream outloud with someone older than 11.      

I take my cue from those who have been single more years than I have and that helps me gain perspective.  I am complete in Christ and I can find my strength in Him to live a joyful life with or without someone else.  Nonetheless, if I'm being completely honest, it's been a challenging couple of days.  I know God has a plan and yet I'm jealous for those who are living out His plan with someone by their side. 

Still trying to figure out how to do this new life.

Prayer Requests -
- The kids and I are on Spring Break next week.  Though we're a week past the anniversary of Leigh's death, it was the Saturday before Spring Break last year that she passed.  Prayers that I wouldn't dwell on what took place during Spring Break last year. 
- Prayers for me to have a balanced week.  To enjoy the kids but to also find times of personal rest.

"Father, I know You're all I need.  I pray I'd truly experience that reality this week."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 368

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Day 368 - Life continues to move forward.  I've had a very "living in the present" week which I'll gladly take after last weekend.  Speaking of moving forward, Caden's latest acquisition - eye glasses.  Nothing too serious - still has 20/30 vision - but enough to warrant wearing glasses during the school day.

Love his new look!  Growing up before my eyes and while the temptation is to miss Leigh Ann, I'm choosing to enjoy the moment with those around me.  Nothing I can do but celebrate with Caden a small milestone in his life (albeit a costly one for me!).

Prayer Requests -
- Please continue to pray for Kate McRae and her fierce battle with cancer.
- Please pray for Caden as he transitions from no glasses to glasses.
- I would appreciate prayers to continue to live in the present.

"Father, I never want Leigh Ann to think I've ever stopped loving her.  Please capture my heart and convince me she's happy for me and the kids.  I know You're taking good care of her and I'd ask You'd remind me of that everyday.  Thank You for the blessings I've experienced this week."