November 20, 2010

A year ago today was the memorial service for Bonnie in Kalamazoo.  While I’m not in denial, the words memorial service and Bonnie’s name in the same sentence, at times, continues to feel surreal.  I guess its just one of those days.   This is our ‘first’ Thanksgiving home without Bonnie.  As I begin to decorate the home I open up box after box which create a flood of memories surrounding special ornaments.  I’m reminded of how Bonnie liked to decorate in a certain way, I see her hand writing on post-it notes indicating where we used decorations in previous years, and of course once in a while some items that should have gone in a garage sale years ago :).  Decorating is taking a little longer and feels like it takes a lot more energy then I can put towards it.  Bonnie always decorated ‘her’ tree (white lights and Waterford ornaments – OK she had classy style, but I’m very confident they were all purchased after Christmas at 75% off).  Not sure when we’ll use the tree again, but McKenzie will have a classy tree when she chooses to.

As the season goes on…day by day…experience by experience…memory by memory, we journey through it.  Ultimately the ‘season’ is about being thankful for God’s faithfulness, and for his overwhelming desire to be in relationship with each of us which he expressed so selflessly as he entered the world as a child.  It’s a reminder that God has created us to be in relationship with others as well.  We all know Christmas is more than time off work, presents, children, and even Santa (oh and for anyone in retail an  incredible boost in sales).  It’s a tangible time to count our blessings here on earth and the blessing that God so loved the world, that he reentered it, for the sake of each of us…so that we might spend eternity with him.

Here are two songs that I listened to over a year ago, and today they once again ministered to my heart.  You may want to light a candle, indulge in your favorite beverage, listen to the words, release any self imposed expectations about the holidays, and say a prayer of thanksgiving for the special people in your life.   May you be blessed and reassured of God’s presence and faithfulness to you.  Lean into the friends in your life, and if your lonely, be a friend to someone.  May your heart begin to swell with gratitude.
He Is – Mark Schultz
Always – Building 429

First Year Without Bonnie

This website tries to capture the journey of Bonnie Joy Smalley, a remarkable mom, wife, and friend who courageously lived a life of hope and encouragement while battling a 13 year struggle with ovarian cancer.  Bonnie’s time on this earth ended, November 4, 2009.  It’s our prayers that the impact of her faith and life and the stories that others share will give you hope and encouragement  – no matter what your journey may be.

November 4, 2010
Hello Friends,

Just typing November 4th can bring tears to my eyes.  Adding 2010 makes me wonder how we made it through the first year without Bonnie.  I’m not sure how a year has gone by, but with God’s grace and the support, prayers and love from so many people we have made it through the year of ‘firsts’ and here we are ready to take another step.

I fully understand that this past year has not just been a journey for McKenzie and me, but all of us in our own way has journeyed into the valley of the shadow of death.  Some of you grieve for the loss of Bonnie’s friendship, while others who didn’t have the privilege of knowing Bonnie embraces the words of scripture when it says to weep with those who weep.  In many ways you have not forgotten Bonnie and have shared in our journey with us.  Grieving takes a lot of energy…so together we have made it though the first year.

Though we have traveled down a portion of the path of grieving and healing we still have a way to go.  The truth of the reality is that we would not be is such a good place without our hope in the resurrection, our faith in Jesus, and your love and support.  Frankly I’m not sure how people who do not share in the belief of the resurrection could ever make it through such a painful journey.

So today I’m taking the day off and just hanging out with McKenzie.  I picked up Bonnie’s favorite donuts this morning to remember (and indulge if I do say so myself).  It’s a day or remembering and writing, a day of tears and laughter, a day to grieve the Bonnie is not with us, and a day to celebrate Bonnie’s graduation into the other side of eternity.   It’s a day to at times Be Still and Know that He is God.  It’s a day to just ‘Be’ and relish in the reality of God’s presence and the blessings of your friendships.  While still celebrate who Bonnie was and where she is, we also miss her very very deeply, and at times that reality just stinks!  Yet, our hope is in the name of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth,  and in the reality of our faith in Jesus we live day by day, moment by moment, and cherish the relationships along the way.

As we continue to live in the tension of grief and gratitude we take one step at a time knowing that God is with us and that He so often helps us through this journey by your love and support.

So may we all have grateful hearts as we remember our beloved, graceful Bonnie.  
May we lean into the community that God has blessed us with and be a friend to those who need one.
May we hold onto the hope we share in the resurrection and through the gift of tears remember our past ask God for the courage and strength to take another step tomorrow.

God is indeed good and His love endures forever.

In the peace of Christ, which passes all understanding,


Mountain Park Memorial Service

Reflecting on the 1 year anniversary of Bonnie passing, I wanted to make the memorial service available for all who wish to watch as we remember her together. The following video is the memorial service held for Bonnie at our home church in Ahwatukee, AZ, Mountain Park Community Church.  As you watch may you heart be filled with Hope & Encouragement as your faith in Jesus grows…

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