Our lives were forever changed the day we lost Corey. He was an amazing man who loved the Lord and his family with all that he was. The pain of losing him is like no other. Our only comfort comes from knowing we will see him again someday.

I have moved the slideshow played at Corey's service to it's own post page above, titled "Corey's Memorial Service - August 10, 2010"

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

What if ??? I believe; help my unbelief ! (Mark 9:24)

I was struggling in the early days following Corey's death with doubts about my beliefs.  What if all that I am placing my hope in isn't real?  What if Corey's body is in the ground and there really is no heaven?  What if I never will get to be with him again?  As a believer in Christ and despite being brought up in the church from an early age I still have doubts sometimes.  It can be scary to verbalize this.  My good friend Stacy and I were talking one night a couple weeks ago and she (also a Christian) shared the same exact fears/doubts that I had been feeling.  Stacy found out the day before Corey died that Rachel, the baby girl she is carrying has anencephaly and aside from God doing a miracle Rachel will not live long...maybe minutes, maybe a few hours, maybe less...You can check out her story on her blog at:  www.thegiftofrachelslife.blogspot.com  Her blog is beautiful...she is my inspiration and helped me get started with my blog.

One of God's provisions in this time of grief is that he has given me a close friend who is going through the grief process herself, again, beginning just the day before Corey's passing...Stacy helped me plan Corey's funeral only to have to begin planning Rachel's service just days after.  We have gone shopping for headstones together as well.  I never thought I would be having to do these things in my early 30's.  Having Stacy to walk this journey with me has been such a blessing from God.  

So, I was relieved when Stacy shared the same fears with me about death, Heaven, and all that we believe.  I wasn't brave enough to share it at that time, but she was, and it gives me courage now to share it with all of you because I know I'm not alone in feeling this way. We continued our discussion and talked about how perhaps we needed to do a Bible study together on the topic of Heaven.

I went home a bit later and was getting ready to read my Bible at bedtime.  I stuffed my pen into my Bible, as I like to make notes sometimes.  I got into bed and went to get my pen.  As I went to retrieve it from the pages of my Bible, I noticed that I had unknowingly stuck it in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4.  I have a study Bible that I like to use that groups the verses with topics and gives you questions to ponder about the text and such. The topic on the page I opened to was titled, "The Hope of Christ's Coming."  As an intro to the text, it read, " Maybe you have fears about what will happen when you die or when Christ returns.  In this passage, Paul seeks to calm our fears and encourage us to look forward to the day we meet our Maker."  Then the first question it posed was, "What fears do you have about death?"  Hmmm...I started to get goose bumps at this "coincidence."  I went on to read the verses which included 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11.  Some of the verses that really spoke to my fears were:

v.13 "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep (who die), or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  v14.  We believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep (died) in him"

and 5:9-10, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  v10  He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him."

The next day I had gone to the cemetery to visit Corey's grave site.  The gravestone that is right behind our plots (right at his feet) is a rather large, very nice (and probably expensive) black granite headstone.  I thought I would take another look at it as I knew it had a couple of Bible verses on it but couldn't remember which ones.  I got goose bumps once again when I saw that one of the verses was from 1 Thessalonians 4:16...sandwiched in between the 2 passages I shared above.

It reads: "for the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first."
For context purposes it goes on to say, "v17  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words."

I cannot accept that my coming across these verses was mere "coincidence" but that God was deliberate in leading me to them to encourage and strengthen my belief in Him.  What a loving and responsive God we have!!

Just the other day I was listening to Nicole Nordeman's cd titled "Brave."  There is a song titled, "What if?"  Here are some of the lyrics.  If you want to give it a listen, scroll down to the playlist at the bottom of this page and select it.

What if you're right?
And he (Jesus) was just another nice guy
What if you're right?
What if it's true?
They say the cross will only make a fool of you
And what if it's true?

What if he takes his place in history
With all the prophets and the kings
Who taught us love and came in peace
But then the story ends
What then?

But what if you're wrong?
What if there's more?
What if there's hope you never dreamed of hoping for?
What if you jump?
And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He's more than enough?
What if it's love?

What if you dig
Way down deeper than your simple-minded friends
What if you dig?
What if you find
A thousand more unanswered questions down inside
That's all you find?

What if you pick apart the logic
And begin to poke the holes
What if the crown of thorns is no more
Than folklore that must be told and retold?

But what if you're wrong?
What if there's more?
What if there's hope you never dreamed of hoping for?
What if you jump?
And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He's more than enough?
What if it's love?

You've been running as fast as you can
You've been looking for a place you can land for so long
But what if you're wrong?

So, for those of you who are indifferent to God or resistant to His words, I would ask you, "What if?"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Daddy's little cheerleaders

So one night last week I think it was, Abigail got out of bed at bedtime...you know how kids like to do that 3 or 4 or 5 times after you've told them to go to sleep! Anyway, she came in and told me she missed daddy.  This often happens at bedtime. I told her I missed daddy too and that I've been wearing one of his T-shirts to bed and asked her if she wanted to pick out one to wear to bed also. Of course she was excited about this and quickly made her choice. Allison was not yet asleep and being the younger sibling she is often an echo of Abigail. So, Abi went back to bed and a minute later Allison is in my room telling me she misses daddy.  So she picked out one of his shirts too. I didn't have a camera handy that night...but, last night Abi asked if she could pick out another one of daddy's shirts to sleep in and Ali followed suit. Abi picked Corey's softball shirt from this past season when he played for Grace Community Church and I gave Ali his softball shirt from the year before when he played for the Journey. I had my camera ready this time. Corey always requested the number 1 which you can see on the back of both of the shirts. The girls loved to cheer for him when we would go to his games. He often would play catcher and the girls (with Abi leading the cheer) would scream "Go Daddy" when he was simply catching the pitched balls. To Abigail, Daddy was the best softball player there was. He was number 1 in her eyes!  

Here is a fellow teammate's (John Hilman) memory of Corey at one of the games that he shared with me shortly after Corey's death. 

I think one of Corey's biggest assets was that smile, but the thing that has been carved in my mind is what happened at a softball game with the Journey.  I can't remember if he was at the plate to bat or behind the plate catching. The game had just started when you and Abigail arrived. Abigail came running across the parking lot yelling,"daddy! daddy!". The average person would have just yelled back with, "Hi Abigail" or something else. Not Corey.  I don't even think he called time out. He just went to the fence and gave that little girl a kiss and told her he loved her. I don't know what the others thought but that said to me nothing was more important to him than his family. After that I noticed he was for sure different than any person I ever met. After hearing you speak at the service Jill, that scene came back to my mind and I thought yeah he was a lot like Jesus. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

A great group of guys...Corey's "partners in crime"

Left to right:  Dennis, Chuck, Matt, Jill, Brian, and Ken
I had the opportunity to have lunch with some of Corey's former coworkers from Liberty Mutual or, as Brian (in photo above) termed them, the Liberty Mafia ;)   I enjoyed hearing their memories of Corey including funny stories he often shared with them (talk of his tractor, fireworks, etc.).  It made me feel good to know that he was surrounded by such great people who genuinely enjoyed his presence.  Thanks guys!!  We'll have to do this again some time!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Story of Us (my eulogy for Corey)

As Corey’s wife I want to personally thank you all for being here with our family to help remember and celebrate Corey’s life.  It was very important to me that I stand up here today to share with you who Corey was to me, our love story, and to tell you about the beauty of our life together.

I loved and still love Corey more than words can say.  He was an amazing man and I’ve been proud to be his wife. 

I have known Corey for more than half my life now.  We met in Vermont through our church’s youth group.  I was 14 and he was 15.  It didn’t take long before we developed feelings for each other.  I remember our first date and our first kiss.  We enjoyed hiking Mt. Mansfield in Vermont together and spending time with our friends at youth group.  When I was 16 Corey taught me to drive a stick shift.    

Once I fell in love with Corey my feelings never left, even throughout the year we spent apart at separate colleges on opposite ends of the country.  Only a year had passed before our romance was rekindled, only this time at a new and deeper level.  Our relationship matured just as we had matured individually.  Our love continued to deepen and grow stronger as we continued our relationship long distance for the next few years.  During my Junior year of college I spent a semester in England for four months, during which time we didn’t see each other, but our relationship didn’t waver despite the 4000 miles between us.  While I was in England, Corey moved from VT to NH.  His job as a potter at Salmon Falls Stoneware brought him to Dover, only an hour’s drive away from where I was attending college in Massachusetts.  Corey was such a talented craftsman.  He enjoyed using his hands to make pottery.  He actually had begun developing his skills in this area back in high school.  Corey was good at fixing things – he did most of the maintenance on our cars.  It amazed me how he just knew how to fix and craft things.  He was very much a problem-solver in this way.  He loved to analyze and think critically about how to go about projects and how to make things more efficient and effective. 

In the spring of my Senior year Corey proposed to me.  Corey was very into doing things right and very much into the details in that way.  He spent months shopping for my engagement ring wanting to get the perfect setting and the perfect diamond.  He was even on a first name basis with many of the jewelers at the mall by the time he had finally chosen a ring.  When he proposed he had his roommate at the time present with a camera snapping pictures from the other side of the room.  He knew how much capturing memories though photos meant to me.   Corey and I were married 8 months later in December of 1998 at North Ave Alliance church in Vermont – the place we first met– our wedding was the day after Christmas – what a whirlwind that was!

Our love just got better and better with each passing year.  I just kept falling deeper in love with him.  We lived in Dover, NH for the first few years of our marriage.  3 years later we built our first home in Milton.  Corey loved the outdoors.  He wanted space so we purchased a 4-acre wooded lot.  Corey loved the woods and loved working on our land as the house was being built and throughout the time we have lived here.  As soon as the papers were signed for closing he was out there with his chain saw clearing out trees. 

Our home was built and two years later we brought Abigail, our firstborn, home from the hospital.  Corey was such a proud daddy.  His face is beaming in the pictures of him holding her as a newborn.  Three years after that Allison joined our family.  Both girls brought him, brought us, much joy and laughter.  Corey adored his girls, and that included me and Bella our dog.  I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him at times being surrounded by a houseful of women.  But when the estrogen levels got too high in our house he would simply retreat to the woods or the basement, and more recently to his tractor.  Corey dreamed of owning a big tractor – he loved heavy equipment.  He named his bright orange tractor Ugly – because it was a Kioti (you know the movie, Coyote Ugly).  Corey built two beautiful stone walls around our house.  He dreamed of building a timber-framed barn at some point down the road.  I have no doubt that he would have done a wonderful job.  Corey was passionate about the things in life he enjoyed.   

After 3 years working as a potter and after taking numerous computer courses, Corey transitioned vocationally and began working at Liberty Mutual as a contractor doing tech support work.  Again, Corey had a way of being able to figure out new things…often things he knew very little about.  Whenever he would tell people he went from making pottery to fixing laptops, people would often respond with surprise at such a change.  Yet in this capacity at Liberty he was still working with his hands- just in a different way.  Corey and I actually had the chance to be co-workers at Liberty for the year and a half until Abigail was born.  We worked in the same organization, same building, same floor, just 2 rows away from each other.  That was a blessed time for us to be able to be a part of the Liberty family together.  It was a neat opportunity for me to see a different side of him, getting to see him firsthand in his work environment.    Corey celebrated his 10th anniversary as a Liberty employee just a couple of months ago.  He came to know so many great people through the different positions he held.  Corey was a hard worker and a good provider for the girls and me.  His job allowed us to build our home and helped make it possible for me to stay home with our girls while only having to work part time from home. 

Over the past few months we have made some beautiful memories together as a family.  Our vacation to Maine a couple of weeks ago was truly the best we have had yet as a family.  We took the girls on a mountain hike leading up to a giant cross overlooking Lake Megunticook with the ocean off in the distance.  Corey spent time fishing with Abigail.  This was a really special time for them and we have some precious video recordings of them reeling in the big one.  With the busyness of life raising 2 young children, Corey and I had kind of forgotten what we enjoyed doing together.  We worked on a puzzle together throughout the week and discovered it to be something we enjoyed – a way to work as a team on something and have time to just talk.  We decided we would try to do more of this at home when we returned.   Last October we travelled to Texas to be with Corey’s family after his grandmother passed away.   We had the opportunity to go see U2 in concert in Dallas at the new Dallas Stadium.  Corey and I enjoyed U2s music, especially in our high school days.  It was a dream of mine to see them in concert some day and to have had the chance to do that with Corey definitely fulfilled that dream.  I am so thankful to God for the good times he has given us over the past year and throughout our 11 years of marriage. 

God and the church family have always been a part of our life together since the time when we met at church back in High school.  Corey enjoyed studying theology (studying God and His Word, the Bible).  He had a passion for apologetics which is the branch of Christian theology that attempts to give a rational defense of the Christian faith.  It involves looking at the evidence, the facts and the history of Christianity and the life of Christ.  He was so intelligent in this area, particularly in his ability to retain so much information.  He would pour over science textbooks and knew so much history that confirmed his beliefs.  Corey was a seeker of Truth, with a capital T. 

Corey had a strength about him.  He had strong convictions about life and about God.  Yet he had such a tender, gentle, and kind side to his character as well.  In this way he really reminds me of Jesus.   Strong in some ways but gentle too.  Corey was compassionate and giving of himself to others.  He saw beyond a person’s appearance, habits, and life experiences – he saw their heart.  In this way, he was humble.  He didn’t judge others but accepted them as they were.  Corey was always willing to lend an ear to a friend, help solve a problem, or meet a physical need whether it required time or money.  He was so generous in giving himself to others.  He really had a servant’s heart…again, just like Jesus. 

We were members of the Journey Church for 5 years before coming here to Grace about a year ago.   Corey was involved in leadership at The Journey, serving on the deacon board for a few years.  He played the drums on the worship team for a period of time.  He had played drums in high school for a short time but had never learned to play the full drum set until his time at The Journey.  Yet again, he took on the task of learning to play and spent hours practicing in our basement.  Thankfully, it was an electronic drum set…so he had earphones J

Before I wrap up, I just want to share with you a little bit about the God that Corey and I know and love, since he has been such an integral part of both of our lives.  I just want to say that our God is awesome, he is pure goodness.  He is holy and he is sovereign- he has authority over everything including life and death.  And I know that at a time like this it can be difficult to understand how he could be all of those things. How he could allow Corey’s untimely death at such a young age.  How he could take Corey away from his family, his wife and 2 young children.  But I want you to hear what I have to say. 
God loves each of you - he loves each of us in ways that we can’t even express or fully understand.  God took special care in creating us in his image – to reflect who he is in all of his beauty and grandeur.  Genesis 1:27 reads “So God created man in His image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  God made us desiring that we would respond back to him with love.  That we would love him and praise and worship Him for who he is, for how great he is.  God didn’t create us to be robots who would love him back involuntarily.  He wants us to know Him personally and He gave us his word, the Bible, so we could know him and have a relationship with him, the God of the universe.  What a privilege!!  He cares intimately about each of you and the details of your life.  I know this to be true. 

When God created Adam and Eve back in the beginning, He allowed Satan to tempt them – God allowed humanity, in the form of Adam and Eve, to choose God’s way or their own way.  And when Eve took a bite of the forbidden apple, sin entered the world.   And because of this we all have a sinful nature…Romans 3:23 reads “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  Because God is so holy and embodies perfection and we are sinners, we are not worthy to stand in his presence.  But because he loves us so much he sent his son Jesus into the world more than 2000 years ago to pay our debt to God for our sins.   John 3:16 reads “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Jesus died for us…he was the acceptable sacrifice offered up to God on our behalf.  It is a gift.   We cannot earn it, we do not deserve it.  God gives it freely out of his great love for us but we have to accept that gift.  When you accept Jesus’ sacrifice on your behalf, God washes you clean and sees you as righteous – you have right-standing before God because Jesus goes before you and when God looks at you, He sees Jesus- in all of CHRIST’S perfection.   This is what makes you a child of God and allows you to have a relationship with God, and best of all it allows you to spend eternity after you die with God in Heaven.  I want this for each of you.  Corey believed all this to be the Truth with a capital T.  It takes a step of faith to believe these things but God has placed so much around us to prove these things to be true.  Corey is in Heaven now…joyful, whole and healthy.

So if you are struggling with understanding Corey’s death…this great loss…know that God is and has been present in all of this.  I can attest to this because God has done so many things over the course of the last couple of days and weeks- things that can only be attributed to God.  I would love to share with any of you the specifics of how God has been moving these last few days.  God was there in the moments surrounding Corey’s passing.   Looking back, I can see things that God did to prepare me months ago for the loss of my husband.  God is just amazing.  Romans 8:28 reads “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  And as I have told many of you, God is going to work all of this sorrow, suffering, and pain for his glory, for his good.  I have already seen it happening and I’m committed to being a part of the good that God is going to bring about through Corey’s death. 

I love all of you.  I am so thankful for the part you have played in my husband’s life and in my life.  Thank you for your prayers and support.  Words really cannot express my gratitude. 

I am going to close by reading Psalm 34
"I will extol the Lord at all times.  His praise will always be on my lips.  My soul will boast in the Lord.  Let the afflicted hear and rejoice.  Glorify the Lord with me.  Let us exalt his name together.  I sought the Lord and he answered me.  He delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look at him are radiant.  Their faces are never covered with shame.  This poor man called and the lord heard him.  He saved him out of all his troubles.  The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and he delivers them.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him." 

Soli Deo Gloria.  To God alone be the glory.

Where to start?

Not sure I really know where to begin with this blogging thing.  Why am I doing this again???  Putting my thoughts out there for anyone to read makes me just a bit fearful.  However, I thought this would be a good way to keep you all updated on how our family is doing these days as we adjust to life without Corey.  His death has left a gaping hole for all of us.  My hope is that by recording our journey Abi and Ali will have this record to look back on when they are older.  I want them to be able to see how faithful our God has been and is being through this trying time.  I also know a lot of you might have questions about Corey's death.  As I get comfortable with this forum I will try to be brave in sharing some of the details that have brought our family to this place of grief.  This is all SO very painful, so I ask that you would please be patient with me.  I guess Corey and I were both kind of private people, but I do think there is value in sharing our story, so I will do my best.

To start, I am going to get some of the details of Corey's funeral service (back on August 10th) posted for those of you who were not able to make it to his service.  Some of these things I have already posted on Facebook, but I really want to have everything in one place.  Plus, I know some of you (kind of like me!) are not real into the Facebook thing...

So without further adieu (drum roll...), here we go!