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  • What I Miss About Him Most

    Three Years Later: What I Miss Most

    Today marks the third anniversary of the day Nick left us—the third anniversary of the day he arrived in heaven. It has been some time since I’ve paused with fingers on keyboard to collect my thoughts and deliberately think about him, about me, about my family, and about our grief. But the Lord, through the…

  • No It Wasnt the Vaccine

    No, It Wasn’t the Vaccine

    A couple of weeks ago I was on live radio doing an interview about Seasons of Sorrow. The interview went well, I think, and I was able to speak about Nick, about the book, and about my hope that it will bless and serve others as they pass through their own seasons of grief and…

  • Was It a Waking Dream

    Was It A Waking Dream?

    I wasn’t quite asleep but I also wasn’t quite awake. It wasn’t quite real, but it also doesn’t seem right to call it fake. Like a story that had already been written or like a tale that had already been told, it flashed into my mind in the briefest of moments. In what must have…

  • The Music of Heaven

    The Music of Heaven

    One quiet evening many years ago, I was sitting on the screened-in porch of our old family cottage when I heard the music of bagpipes. Curious, I followed the sound, which me led as far as I could go, down to the shore of the lake. Somewhere across the water, I could hear the piper…

  • Nick Challies

    A Year of Sorrow, a Year of Gratitude, a Year of Grace

    The grass at Glen Oaks Cemetery had already begun to fade from its bright summer green to its drab winter brown on the day we first visited. The November breeze blew cold upon us as we walked the rows of graves to choose the spot where we would bury our son. We eventually chose a…

  • a Beautiful Bench

    Family Update: An Engagement, a Scholarship, and a Beautiful Bench

    Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend has just come and gone and we ourselves have just come and gone—we are on our way home from a brief trip to Louisville, Kentucky, where we spent some time as a family. We very much enjoyed our few days with Abby, with Ryn (Nick’s fiancée), and with Nate, (Abby’s fiancé). Yes,…

  • The Song I Sing in the Darkness

    The Song I Sing in the Darkness

    No work of art is more beautiful, more valuable, more irreplaceable, than the twenty-third psalm. It has stood through the ages as a work of art more exquisite than The Night Watch, more faultless than Mona Lisa, more thought-provoking than Starry Night. The lines of the greatest poets cannot match its imagery, the words of…

  • Moments With My Father and My Son

    Moments With My Father (and My Son)

    I have many fond memories of my father—memories accumulated over the 43 years we shared this earth. I have fond memories based on my first twenty-one years when I lived in his home and saw him nearly every day. I remember him taking me to old Exhibition Stadium to watch the Blue Jays play. I…

  • I Miss My Son Today

    I Miss My Son Today

    I miss my son today. That goes without saying, I suppose, since I miss him every day. But on this day the pain is particularly sharp, the ache especially deep. I miss my friend, I miss my brother, I miss my protégé. I miss the son of my youth, the delight of my heart. I…

  • My Anchor Holds

    My Anchor Holds

    At one of the many shipyards dotting Canada’s East Coast, another great oceangoing vessel is very nearly complete, and in just a few weeks it will begin to transport containers across the Atlantic. But before it can embark on its maiden voyage, it must endure a strict regimen of tests. Waters flood the dry dock…

  • A Family Update and a Cause of Death

    A Family Update and a Cause of Death

    It took nearly six months, but the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office finally determined the cause of Nick’s death and sent us an autopsy report. It was a very long wait for a crucial piece of information. And while it was very difficult to receive the report, we were glad to finally know. We couldn’t bring…

  • A Family Update

    A Family Update, Six Months Later

    It’s hard for me to believe it, but today is exactly six months since Nick went to heaven. In some ways it feels like more than that, but in so many more it feels like less. Six months ago we were a family of five and looking forward to soon being a family of six…

  • How Long Is the Dash

    How Long Is the Dash?

    Nick’s gravestone has finally been installed, and I have come to see it for the very first time. I have been looking forward to this day and dreading this day in equal measure. For months I have had to visit an unmarked grave, a patch of bare earth with no way to identify the name…

  • Kids

    To My Son on His Twenty-First Birthday

    Happy birthday, my boy! You’re 21 today! Or you would be. Do you celebrate birthdays in heaven? Do you even mark days, months, and years? I confess, I have only just begun to realize how little I know about the place you have gone to be. I’ve got many questions, but few answers. Then again,…

  • Homesick

    Homesick

    My thoughts these days turn often to heaven. In those moments when I hover between asleep and awake, in those moments when I bow my head to pray, in those moments when I lift my voice to sing, my mind turns often to that place and to its people. My father made the journey there…

  • Waiting with Faith

    Waiting with Faith

    Have you ever bitten into a green tomato? Have you ever sunk your teeth into a fall apple during the heat of summer or into a summer strawberry during the cool of spring? Have you ever listened to a choir’s first rehearsal, read a book’s first draft, gazed at an artist’s initial sketches? Have you…

  • Shedding Tears Over Sorrows That May Never Come

    Shedding Tears Over Sorrows That May Never Come

    We prayed as a family before Nick and Abby left for their fall semester, then snapped a photo of the two of them standing together outside our home—our two college students. It was August 1, 2020, and they were headed to Louisville, Kentucky, Nick for his junior year and Abby for her freshman. I made…

  • Would It Be Okay For Me To Be Angry With God

    Would It Be Okay For Me To Be Angry With God?

    It felt like a test—a test of my faith, a test of my convictions, a test of my love for God. Soon, very soon, after I learned that my son had died, I received a message from an old acquaintance. Her intentions were good—she wanted to offer consolation. But her instructions were suspect—she wanted me…

  • Grief Should Always Make Us Better

    Grief Should Always Make Us Better

    Death is the great interrupter. Death is the great interrupter because, far more often than not, it strikes when it’s least expected. When death comes it invariably interrupts plans, dreams, projects, goals. One author observes how very sad, how very pathetic it is, when a man dies suddenly and we go into his home or…

  • Our Hearts Smile

    Our Hearts Smile, Even If Our Faces Do Not

    We went to visit Nick on Christmas morning. “Visit Nick”—that’s what we’ve decided to call it when we spend time at his graveside. “Going to the cemetery” focuses on the place, not the person, so is too impersonal, too abstract. “Paying our respects” is another option, but sounds too formal to describe going to the…