Hello Again–

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections, Updates at 5:53 pm by Libbie

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything here. I have wanted to again and again, but one day after another gets away from me.

It’s been more than five weeks now since Al died. We are taking one day at a time and finding the Lord faithful and with us. School has been hard for Eowyn and Alden, with the difficulties having different foci for each of them.

Eowyn has struggled with feeling overwhelmed and discouraged with all the schoolwork she has to make up. The week before Al died she was physically present in school but not able to concentrate much and definitely not working on long-term assignments. Then she missed two weeks completely, and the first two weeks she was back in school she had no oomph or emotional energy to dive into schoolwork. She made as much effort as she could to attempt some of the current assignments of those two weeks, but she kept falling farther and farther behind. So by the beginning of March she basically had a 5-week slide to try to reverse. That was so discouraging that it was disabling, and the more the work piled up the more discouraged she became. You know how those downward spirals go. Eowyn’s teachers have been understanding about giving her time to make things up, some of them have written off some of the assignments, and some of the them have been extremely supportive and encouraging, which we appreciate so much. But the volume of work, which includes two term papers (remember how mammoth those seemed in high school?), still seems daunting.

But we’ve tried to map out a plan to chip away at the pile in manageable, if not very fun, chunks, and in the past two or three weeks she has made progress in getting some assignments handed in, tests taken, etc. Every little bit helps. I think maybe that encourages me more than it encourages her, but she’s been a trooper. She’s plowing into her term papers, she’s trying to get on top of trig and chemistry concepts that she missed that affect what the class is learning now, and sooner or later it will all be behind her. She can’t wait. Last week she got her learner’s permit to drive, which she is enormously excited about, and the “upper” of that has come at a good time to offset some of the drudgery of work. Thank you, Lord!

For Alden, who didn’t have too much work to make up, the biggest challenge has been dealing with junior high life. It’s hard to know how to comfort a friend who is grieving at any age, and it would be unreasonable to expect junior high kids to figure that out at 13 or 14. No one has been intentionally mean at all, but they do sometimes say and do things that end up being unintentionally hurtful. Jokes that make fun of “your mom” or “your dad” are probably harmless enough, but when your dad’s just died, they’re not very funny. However, that may not occur to the eighth grader making the joke. Or there’s the girl who asks, “Who do you like? Who do you like? Who do you like? You have to like somebody; everybody likes somebody. So who do you like?” and keeps it up for 20 minutes without a break. Or if Alden has heavy things on his mind and therefore gets quiet and doesn’t join in whatever silly stuff happens to be going on, kids (probably meaning very well) ask him if he’s all right and keep asking him until he does join in just to get the spotlight off himself. So he feels as if all day at school he has to pretend that he is happily part of whatever inanity is going on and that everything is fine, nothing is wrong and nothing is on his mind. That is wearing. Plus, a teacher that Alden really, really likes was recently promoted to a new job (which he will excel at—he’s great), so today was his last day in class.

I dropped one of the two classes I was taking this spring, which I have no doubt was the right decision. I had figured I would just move ahead with both classes, see how that went, and adjust as necessary, trusting the Lord to make the way clear one way or the other, and he did. I am slowly learning this business of living life a day at a time and trusting the Lord to guide me when I don’t have all (or maybe even any of!) my ducks in a row. It became obvious that keeping up with other things in life right now was going to preclude being able to get to the reading for the one class, so the clear choice was to drop it. I had a midterm in the remaining class this week, and that course will keep me plenty busy.

Last Thursday I had minor outpatient surgery on my wrist (to remove a cyst—no big deal), and that is healing nicely as far as I can tell. Our church and some Westminster students are continuing to send meals while my hand is in a splint/cast for two weeks, and that is getting me out of washing dishes as well. I’m going to be completely spoiled…

On Tuesday I went through Al’s clothes in preparation for a clothing collection. I wasn’t sure how hard that was going to be, but it wasn’t too bad for the most part, and I came up with a neat idea for what to do with some of them. There were two hard parts, though. One was when I found something special Al had made for me that he had tucked away in one of his drawers so that I would find it whenever I eventually went through them. Thoughtful to the end. The other was a collection of photo album pages in his closet that held pictures from 30 years ago when we were dating and first married. Remembering those early years and seeing the pages of pictures of me that Al had amazingly cherished made me bawl. When I came through the living room Eowyn saw that I had been crying and asked why. When I told her, she settled herself in “the snuggle chair,” made me come sit in her lap, and put her arms around me and comforted me. I am so loved!

So we walk on, one step at a time. We miss Al terribly, but we are certainly glad that the Lord is here with us, and we’re glad for Al’s sake that he is in heaven. It’s sort of like getting to graduate early. High school and college can be fun, but if you know what you want to do with your life, then being allowed to leave school early to go do it is supremely exciting, even if you’ll miss your school buddies. It’s a bummer for them to be left behind, but it’s fantastic for the early graduate. That’s how I think of Al’s death in some ways. He would have chosen to stick around longer with us and with all his buddies here, but since he got tapped to jump ahead now and start on the real business of living Real Life, I wouldn’t want to wish him back here in training camp.

Last Sunday in church as we worshipped I felt intense emotions in three different directions at once, seemingly conflicting and yet all true. First, as I often do, I pictured all of us in the congregation standing before God’s throne, worshipping the king. I think that is really what’s happening when we worship. As I stood aware of that, I realized that Al is standing, worshipping before that same king, just more real-ly than we are. So it was almost as if I wanted to look around the throne room of heaven and see if I could pick him out in the multitude. Being part of the same throng praising God together—those on earth and those in heaven—I felt so close to Al.

Second, and at the very same time, I missed him so intensely that my eyes were like faucets.

And third, I realized how very much Al had longed all his life to be exactly where he is right now, and I was SO GLAD for him. Back when Al’s grandfather died in 1979 Al felt first sadness that he wasn’t going to be able to see him as planned (we were about to leave on a long trip to go visit him), then confident that he would in fact see him again in heaven, and then envious that his granddad was getting to do something that we would have to wait many years to experience—seeing Jesus face to face. Al was not surprised at the sadness or the hope, but he was surprised by the envy. I think it was the first time he became aware of what a longing he had to go home and be in God’s actual presence. Of course he enjoyed all the big and little things in life while he was here, people most of all, but that longing to be with Jesus was always there underneath. And now, there he is! He is lifting his hands and probably dancing with abandon before the Lord in freedom, health, Life, and triumphant joy, as his heart longed to do for so many years.

When Al and I were dating we liked to sing a song from Psalm 27. It’s the only song I remember him harmonizing to, and the harmony he sang was beautiful. The words are:

One thing have I desired of the Lord;
that will I seek after–
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life.
One thing have I desired of the Lord;
that will I seek after–
to behold the beauty of the Lord
and inquire in his temple.

That is where Al is now and what he is doing, and I can only imagine the joy he is experiencing in being there and doing it.

May we all look forward to joining him…



  1. Steve Hailstone said,

    March 17, 2007 at 6:19 am


    Thank you for this update. It helps to know how to continue praying for your family.

    Steve Hailstone

  2. Tom Kulp said,

    March 17, 2007 at 9:26 am

    You know being a guy, I just want to fix things,( although my wife would testify that my solutions aren’t always the best), but all I can do is just hope and pray that this too will bring you closer to the Lord and have an even deeper relationship with Him.


  3. kae eaton said,

    March 17, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Sweet Libby,
    I feel now I can breathe. Thank you for sitting with us for the hour or so it took you to write us. It feels like we (you and all the “I” s in the world) are sitting at the kitchen table over a cup of coffee. As for this “I”— I feel honored to be your sister, (thanks to Jesus) and honored that you would take the time it has taken to fill “me” in.

    Oh Eowyn, hang in there lil sis. Keep your vision fairly short for the immediate term, meaning on one task at a time. Only that will take the pressure off. You don’t know this now, but it will eventually get done.

    Dear Alden, you just concentrate on being you my friend. Even Jr. High kids can learn to be still with a little coaching. If you need to be still, and preoccupied for a bit, you just let them know however you can. I think they’re smart enough to get it. Just tell them you’ll be ok in a while, and not to worry. Because you will.

    I am sad, to not be around. But I guess this is a good way to be near.

    I love you all, … and you too, Alasdair, Lauren and Becky.


  4. Steve and Carolyn Ritter said,

    March 17, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    Hey Libbie and Fam,

    What a blessing you are to us (and many) as you share your lives. We think about you and pray for you often, and we are confident that the Lord will use this time in your lives for His glorious purposes, to work in you and through you. He certainly has used you in our lives, as examples, teachers, inspirations and encouragers. I too so much look forward to that day where we will all be together worshiping the Lord perfectly.

    We love you!!
    Steve and Carolyn

  5. Chris Fisher said,

    March 18, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Lib, thanks for bringing us all up to date. Let’s take a walk in the woods after this blasted snow is gone. Love and prayers, Chris

  6. Allie Stryd said,

    March 18, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Hi there,
    Today we sang we sang “better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere” at Bridge (sorry, i don’t know the official title!), and I believe this is from Psalm 27. Thought of you.
    I really can’t imagine what you are all feeling. The grief, the loss, the sadness. What amazes me is what seems to characterize you, still, is faith. I’ve been thinking about Mary of Bethany lately… her at Jesus’ feet. And it seems to me that that is where you are, too. We’re still praying.
    much, much, much love,
    allie s.

  7. Steve Sandvig said,

    March 19, 2007 at 11:03 am


    What a blessing to read your blogs. I hope you keep writing, month after month. Your transparency and reflections about Al, children, emotions, heaven, life, scripture and truth are so rich. I especially liked the way you described Alden’s dilemma of having to appear ‘happy’ and your reflections on worshipping with the mighty throng who are living Real Life at the moment.

    God bless you! Steve

  8. donna jennings garcia said,

    March 19, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks so much for the throne room picture. I miss New Life, the preaching and the worship (even singing in English) but imagine the throne room of God, all tongues and nations, what a hope we have.

    I love you guys, and we continue to pray. We will be in the US (all of our plans are always tentative) for summer/fall and I am excited to visit Philly, I can’t wait to see you– allof you, and Becky especially too, don’t know if I’ll recognize her 🙂

    Love you,

  9. laurie hartman said,

    March 20, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Praying for you – Laurie

  10. Fred said,

    March 23, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks, Libbie, for such a thoughtful letter, for allowing us into your lives, for letting the Lord encourage us through your witness.

    In reading a novel today (unemployment has one advantage, at least) I ran across this passage and had to put down the book for a while:

    “There was a lightness about him” said Aunt Clare. “That’s the only word I can think of to describe it. …”

    “What do you mean?”

    “He struck me as being terribly good at living, which is the greatest gift anyone can ever have. A talent for life.”

    “You mean he seemed happy?”

    “Not just happy,” said Aunt Clare. “Nothing as straightforward as that.”

    “What do you mean, then?”

    “He was at ease with himself, he was at home in his own skin. …”

    “He was charming, then?”

    “More than that, too. It wasn’t because he was handsome, but because he made people feel as though they were in the right place at the right time when they were with him. I don’t think fora moment he was aware of this. It was his instinct, his talent for living brilliantly.”

    Reading this I thought of Al, and thought again of the grace that God poured upon us through him. May the light of God in the face of Christ continue to shine upon us, and light our path.

    The grace of God, the love of Christ, the Spirit’s peace be with us all.


  11. Gideon said,

    March 24, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    Thank you for sharing your life with us. Please do let us (from the House of Heavenly Grace) know how we may serve you and your family.

  12. Lyn Newbrander said,

    March 25, 2007 at 9:14 am

    Thank you for blessing me with what you shared, Libby. You all have been in my prayers as you grieve. Tim and I were so grateful that we could be at much of the memorial service through the webcast. May God continue to be your strength and song, and may He also be Eowyn’s and Alden’s rock. Our David and Becca are the same age as Eowyn and Alden, so it was so easy to picture the situation you described. It just feels as though live needs to stand still for a while so that you can catch up. But it doesn’t. Do tell them another mom is over here in Berlin praying for them as they grieve and life for everyone else just keeps on rollin’.

  13. Sharon (with David) said,

    March 26, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Hi Dear Libbie–

    Thank you for the loving labor of keeping those who love you close to your heart. I know it is hard to write, but it is much appreciated as we continue to pray for and love you all from afar. Please hug the kids from us, and have them return the favor. I love seeing you on Eowen’s lap. Wish I could hold you all, and am so glad the Savior is doing that.

    Much love–
    Sharon (and David)

  14. Larissa said,

    March 28, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Dear ones…you’re in my heart and prayers. Love, hugs, lots of kisses.

  15. Charles & Anne said,

    March 29, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    Dear Libby,

    We continue to ache with you at the loss of Al. He blessed so many of us beyond words. Even the memory of him is inspiring.

    You are in our thoughts and prayers. May you know God’s special provision… the kind he keeps only for the bereaved.

    With our love,

    Charles and Anne,

  16. Meredith said,

    April 2, 2007 at 7:56 am

    Dear Libbie,

    Thank you for your lucid descriptions of the Reality of life and death and God’s comfort and everything. I have thought and prayed for you and Al and your family for so long now, which is probably an odd thought since I haven’t seen any of you for years, not since I was at Westminster. But I love this blog and the humor and honesty and hope in it. Death is hard, but what a joy that it is not final and it’s so very good to read your true reflections on this. Life is often a series of mirages, which easily obscure the Truth, and I am very grateful to be able to read your blog because the right and true perspective is to be found in it. This is a biblical blog! in the best sense of the word. I know this isn’t too coherent, but words fail me when it comes to the deep things of the heart. Thank you again for your articulateness and your openness and for the deep encouragement it gives me as a fellow believer. You are thrice-blessed, and a blessing, as Al is and ever was.
    much love in Christ,

  17. barbara finlay said,

    April 4, 2007 at 11:08 am

    Dear Libbie,

    Just to let you know the women in Portadown are still praying for you and the kids. Thank you for your continued updates on the blogsite, they are always such an encouragement and help us to know how to pray more effectively for you all.

    love Barbara

  18. Tim Geisse said,

    April 6, 2007 at 10:02 am

    Thank you, Libbie, for sharing your thoughts and feelings and wisdom. I’ve been singing PS 27 a lot lately and thinking of Al while singing it. I remember singing it in college and I remember singing it with Al and I even remembering harmonizing. That song was special for both of us.

  19. rose said,

    April 9, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Dear Libbie, Alden and Eowyn,

    We are still praying for you almost daily! Grief is a hard thing.

    I have been wanting to post a remembrance of Al. I didn’t know him very well. I don’t recall conversations with him, although I have always had great respect for him. But, anyway, a couple weeks before he passed to the other side, I saw him at church. Probably his last time at Sunday morning service. I was worshipping up front with my 5 year old and had to leave in the middle of a song to take her to Sunday school. So I got up in the middle of the song to take her and walked passed Al in the back with his leg propped. And he said, “hi , Rose.” This kind of seems funny, but I smiled as I walked passed him and started thinking, did he say hi Rose? He hardly knows me! Pardon me for thinking, is he losing it a little? It did make me feel special, though.

    So after listening to Doug Greene at Al’s funeral, where he talked about how Al became more of a pastor and a father figure as he got closer to death, it all made sense to me. What a beautiful man, and I am so glad that we will one day spend eternity with him and all the saints!

    rose for the Morris family

  20. Dianne said,

    April 12, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Hi Libbie,
    Just a note to say that we are keeping you and the family in our daily prayers.

  21. Donna Jennings Garcia said,

    April 15, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    hi libbie, Becky, Alden, Eowyn and Alasdair…

    Thinking about you guys and praying for you. Hope to see you soon. May God’s presence fill your hearts as you hope in Him. you guys are the greatest…


  22. Tom Kulp said,

    April 19, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
    – C. S. Lewis

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