Tag: family

It was a good death.

My grandfather died a month ago. He was a good man and his death broke my heart. I am the oldest grandchild on my mom’s side of the family so I had the most time with him, and the benefit of his younger years so we were companions, he and I.


I think about him a lot. He lived quite a remarkable life and would often tell me what happy memories he had when he looked back. I’m glad for that. I’m glad because it wasn’t actually particularly joyful, in fact, painful- very much so, for him- and yet he remembered the happiness.

I had the very great honor of writing his obituary (which you can read at the bottom of this post) and of speaking at his wake, but I had the even greater honor of being his “Alicia Darling” and his “#1 girl”.

At his wake/funeral, the entire family came together, differences aside to hug, and talk, and hang out. It’s funny how, when you’re apart from cousins for so long, separated by age, and distance, you come together and it feels like family. Oh, and we have differences. Check out the picture below of the Nolan grandchildren. Can you tell who is a model? Who is a Christian? Who is a Navy SEAL? Who is transgender? Who owns a successful business? Who has autism? Who is a cowboy? Who is a singer? Who just graduated college? Who just got out of jail? Who cares?! My grandpa didn’t. He loved us all equally and gave his time, his money, his help to any one of us who needed it. I was filled with joy to see such a wonderful legacy of one of the most significant and influential men of my life.grandpa after party2

My grandpa is the reason I became a journalist. There’s a whole story behind that! He took me to Disney when I was 12 and his wallet fell out on Space Mountain. He took me to Cooperstown because he wanted me to love baseball as much as he did (alas, no). He came to all my school concerts. He paid for my braces. He brought me dolls in their international costumes from every country he ever visited. My grandpa frequently sent me clippings from the newspaper in the mail with articles he thought I’d enjoy. My grandpa taught me to love and understand classical music. He heavily shaped who I am, and when he died, who he was in life became that much more pronounced in me. I’m proud of that.

And as does happen when a good man dies, the people he left behind are grieving and finding a way to move ahead with his absence, knowing that we’ll see him again on the other side, when our own times come. Praise God.grandpa funeral4Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13

All that being said- watching your family members grieve is a really difficult, stressful, bonding process. It’s one thing to work through your own sadness, but to see pain in the eyes of your parents, and your siblings, to watch them burst into tears randomly as the thought of grandpa flickers across their minds – it’s brutal all around.

Homer was a huge support. I mean- over.the.top. He shone like the glittering, radiating rockstar he is. My Grammy wanted to commemorate the entire event and Homer dutifully took pictures, stepping in front of grieving relatives, with tears streaming down his own face, capturing the most painful and poignant moments a family can share. He held me as I wept on my bed the day my grandpa died. He listened to my stories. He snapped the picture below so I could have a “4 generations” picture with my Grammy even though we’d all been crying 2 minutes beforehand.


Homer made a very difficult experience bearable- but not just for me, for my whole family. Many of them had never met him because we’ve been living in Utah for so long. He came in an won hearts left and right with his tact, grace, strength, humor, kindness, friendship and the natural way he puts people at ease with his outgoing charm. I needed him, and I didn’t have to say that even one time. He knew, and he was there.

grandpa after party

In the end, my grandfather died as he’d wished- at a ripe, old age, at the end of a life filled with rich experiences, surrounded by his wife and children who were holding him, singing, praying and loving on him.

Death comes to us all, but not all of us truly live. ~Me

His was a life well lived, and it was a good death.

grandpa obit_less white

If You Want to Hear from God, Go Stand by Him

There’s a story behind the picture in this post. This old man, praying over his bread. It’s actually part in a series because there is an old woman as well, in a separate picture. In my family, this picture is a big deal. All of my aunts, uncles and cousins have this same picture hanging in our homes. It’s iconic for us and we all have different memories of times we we’d spent at my grandparents’ house, doing various things while that picture watched over us. I used to ask myself- what is he praying about? Just his food? Maybe the weight of the world is on his shoulders and, at the end of a long, difficult day, sitting down to his meal, he is praying for grace to face another one. Who knows. But everyone in my family has a different theory.

I’m not one to pretend I know much of any one, particular thing, but after walking in relationship with the Lord all of my life, I do know this: Prayer changes things. Prayer doesn’t change God, no. He never changes. But prayer changes hearts, minds, attitudes, entrapments, strongholds, situations and everything else because prayer engages God’s power and releases it into our lives: On earth as it is in heaven.

We become the agreement on earth, for things to align in God’s will, as they already exist in heaven. That’s an Amen!

On my mind today: Deuteronomy 5:31, “…but as for you, stand here by Me, so that I may speak to you…”

As I’ve been working my way through the book of Deuteronomy, I’ve been reading it with fresh, new eyes. I remember trying to read it so many times in the past and just about falling asleep, partially because I thought it was boring and partially because I’ve read it so many times, since it’s one of those first few books you encounter each time you try to read the Bible through in a year…

Our proximity to God is a crucial part of our ability to hear from Him. James 4:8 tells us to ‘Draw near to God…” – it is our responsibility to place ourselves closer to God and we do that through building a relationship with Him, getting to know Him through His Word and through time spend seeking Him in prayer and even just being quiet in His presence.

There is a geography in the Kingdom (Read the post, “The Geography of Sin” for more) – you are either close to or far from God- and those are your choices to make.

In Deuteronomy 5, Moses had just finished giving the Hebrews the Ten Commandments that the Lord spoke to him “on the mountain, out from the midst of fire, the cloud and the think darkness with a great voice” (don’t you wish it could just be that easy to hear from God…?!) and the Word says that even though the people heard the voice of God up on that mountain as the Lord spoke to Moses, they had no sense of honor or awe. They wanted to get as far away from it as they could.

In fact, they said to Moses, “Now, therefore, why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we will die. For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go near and hear all that the Lord our God will say. Then speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.”

One of the biggest mistakes the Hebrews made (over and over and over) is that they consistently ping-pong’d back and forth in their geography to God. If God did nice things, they got closer. If God didn’t do what they wanted, or not fast enough, they made golden calves and distanced themselves from Him.

One thing we know about God from His Word is that not only can God be found, but also- He wants to be found, but it is our job to seek.

In Deuteronomy 5:30-31, after the Hebrews got weird about being too close to hear God’s voice, the Lord says to Moses, “Go say to them ‘return to your tents’, but as for you, stand here by Me, so that I may speak to you…” As for YOU. As for me. “Stand here by Me.” Could there be any more inviting, amazing statement God could make? He wants to be near me?

The Lord wants to be close to us, so that He can speak. Need a word from God about your situation? Read the Word. Pray. He can be found, but you must seek Him, His face. You must place yourself close to God so that He can speak and so that you can hear. How can we expect to hear and know the voice of God if we aren’t standing close enough to Him to listen?

Food for thought. Pray before you eat it.


What a difference 10 years makes…for better, or for worse

The picture on the left was taken on Feb. 13, 2008 – the day Homer and I met.

After meeting online (ChristianMingle.com, for those who want to know…), and chatting on the phone/IM for a few weeks, we decided to meet up in person to make sure our profile pictures were accurate. haha 🙂

Well, they so were. Homer was every bit as gorgeous as I’d hoped- tall, confident, handsome, and really fun. So, we snapped a picture at the place where we met up- the EcoTarium in Worcester, Mass., in front of their giant grizzly bear.

Well, on Feb. 17, 2018, we took the kids ice skating and snapped another photo, at almost 10 years to the day of that fateful trip to meet each other to see what if…

Wow. We have been through a lot, the wringer, actually- but together, always together. There were times when I wanted to leave, and times when he wanted to. But we didn’t. We toughed it out. We cried, screamed, prayed, threw things, despaired, triumphed, grew, changed, forgave, comforted and refused to sleep in different beds, even on our darkest and most painful nights.

What a difference 10 years ago makes! The people on the left thought they were two, strong people. The two people on the right have learned they are stronger together. Every day together is a gift. Treasure it.