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Last year, my son and I took a Norwegian Cruise to the Caribbean with dozens of other Gold Star Families for the Heroes at Sea experience with our Camp Hometown Heroes family.

It was a treat to travel with some of our favorite people on the planet. We were especially grateful to have had so many volunteers travel with us to help us navigate our grief during the Thanksgiving season; so very appreciative that many left their families and set aside their holiday traditions to be with us.

We set sail from Miami for St. Maarten, St. Thomas and the Bahamas and enjoyed a great adventure!


God has brought us so far from our 2004 Thanksgiving.

Far from spending our days and nights in hospitals in Betheseda, Maryland & Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Sitting bedside with a severely injured husband, father, son and friend who would never come back to us the same. Who never came back to us at all. Interacting with hospital staff who were loving and compassionate but left their shifts to be with their families. Volunteers who sacrificed to spread holiday cheer but could not tear us away from the reality of how changed our lives were.

It seemed we would never again be able to sincerely express gratitude during this time of year.

Since those months, we have vowed to do the holidays a bit differently. Especially Thanksgiving. Out with the traditions – because while we treasured them, it just hurt to be reminded of what we won’t ever have again, that the empty chair will never be filled by the one who belonged there, that the old ways must be replaced with new ones, that trying to take the old way and stretch it around the new way wasn’t going to work – and in with a different way of living thankful at Thanksgiving that works for us.


We hope you enjoy these photos of our adventure last year. (And yes, know that we are up to some untraditional shenanigans again this Thanksgiving.) And since it is important to be ever present while experiencing adventures, there won’t be another post here on the blog until after the holiday weekend. Our prayer is that you will be with the loved ones you have, in whatever way you can truly live and be alive, filled with the perfect love of Jesus.

With hearts of deep gratitude, these last two photos are an expression of our hope for you.

From two people who have had very serious things happen, but do not take themselves too seriously, because we have so, so, so very much to be thankful for and believe you do too…


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