Some thoughts on the Fourth of July weekend, 2009

I remember our last Fourth of July together as a family so vividly, as our oldest son Christopher was still with us.

It was the best and most memorable Fourth of our lives. We spent it in Whitefish, Montana, with friends Levi and Jenny Lusko and Brian and Crystal Ray (Lewis).

Whitefish is classic Americana the whole way. It reminds you of those small towns that you see in movies, but don’t think exist–with its boardwalks, beautiful weather, and classic ice cream store with a line.

Early on the Fourth, we went and bought a bunch of the most powerful fireworks that I have ever laid my eyes on. Compared to what we can purchase here in California they were so much better and more potent.

Unsafe and insane!

Frankly, they also were a bit on the dangerous side. If the slogan for California fireworks is “Safe and Sane,” then these fireworks that they allow in Montana could have been designated “Unsafe and Insane”!

After a delicious dinner that Brian prepared (he is a great cook!) of hamburgers, chicken, sausage, and all the trimmings, we waited for night to fall. We shot our arsenal of fireworks off lighting up the Montana sky and had so much fun! It was a memorable night.

This year, we decided to stay home.

Like all events that mark time, it is hard for us. Events like Christmas, Easter, the Fourth of July, and, of course, birthdays and anniversaries are all quite difficult. Each one releases a flood of memories of our son Christopher, who we miss so very much.

He was always quick to laugh and loved being with his family. His absence leaves a huge hole in our lives and gatherings. Sure, we still have fun and we laugh, but one can turn quickly to tears as well when a fresh memory of our son comes to mind.

So how are we doing?

People ask me how we are doing as we approach a year since Christopher went to heaven. The short answer is, “OK.”

I’m sorry if you were hoping for me to say that we are doing just fantastic, but I have determined to be honest about this journey of grief we all are on.

But know this: we are not alone in it. We have the Lord, whose sweet presence is felt every day. We have each other, and are more apt to say, “I love you,” than before. We have you, our friends who remember us in your prayers. We also have our memories that bring back days we long for.

We have our future, where we will be reunited with Christopher and other loved ones that have gone before us. And we have today, which we are determined to live for the Glory of God.

A word to you this Fourth of July

I have not written this post to depress you, but to say, “Don’t ever take anything for granted.”

Not your liberty that you enjoy as an American, nor your health that is a gift from God and especially not your family. Make sure you tell each one you love them. And despite what friction or challenges you may have with other family members, remember that you should be thankful that they are here to still reconcile with, and you are here for them as well.

Bottom line, don’t take anything or anything for granted. So, from our family to yours, have a blessed Fourth of July.

14 thoughts on “Some thoughts on the Fourth of July weekend, 2009”

  1. Nancy Tuz says:

    We lost our precious (and only) son Mark
    on Feb.1, 2009
    We know the indescribable pain of losing
    a son. We didn’t learn of your loss of
    Topher until after our loss. We are so very
    sorry for your pain; yet, like your family,
    we know our boy is in Heaven and we GREATLY
    look forward to being with Mark again.
    Thank you for the reminder to NOT take anyone
    or anything for granted. Our family has had
    bumps since our son’s homegoing, and we can’t
    allow the enemy or anyone else to tear us
    apart. God bless you and your family.

  2. Karen Johnson says:

    Our hearts are broken by the loss of our son, and our hearts are broken by your loss of Topher. This world is no longer our home. We are just marking time till Heaven. Thanks for helping us to continue to trust our Father for strength for each day. We surround you and your family with prayers.
    The Maui Johnsons

  3. Cathy says:

    Not a depressing post at all, but rather refreshingly and helpfully honest! Most of us will face deep suffering sometime in our lives, and the thoughts you have on your journey can be used by God to prepare us when our times come. Thanks, Greg!

    I guess it’s clear that 25 years from now, our sorrows will all be over for eternity. I try to remember that. Also, I think there’s a scriptural truth–often ignored in American evangelical circles–that suffering and joy often coexist.

  4. Kim says:

    Pastor Greg and family,
    My daughter and her husband moved to Eden Prairie, MN. They have two children, a boy 10, and a girl 2. She’s my best friend and I miss her. My daughter and her husband are not saved, but my grandson gave his life to Jesus two years ago when I took him to the Harvest Crusade. Last year I was so blessed to be a follow-up counselor and now I’m on my third rotation in the children ministries. I so wanted to serve and am so grateful for the opportunities at Harvest. This weekend my daughter and her family came for a visit so, I took the opportunity to invite her to Harvest, as I felt the Holy Spirit in such a way. She told me her husband wouldn’t go, but it’s the first time she told me she would come with me some time in the near future. Her brother, my son, was saved two years ago at Harvest, and she has seen the amazing transformation. She told me she is coming with me next March to the women’s retreat. Pastor Greg and Cathe my heart hurts for you and tears fill many bottles and I thank-you for sharing the truth. When I sit at church and you pour your heart out to us with the gospel and then you give an invitation to receive Jesus Christ and now we can go get baptized I cry tears of joy for the ones coming foward, and tears of hurt for my daughter and son-in-law, but after spending time with the family and seeing the walls slowly coming down I thank God for all he is doing. Then when I think that’s enough I read your blog and want to thank God once again for you and your beautiful family, your tears of sorrow and of joy.

  5. Nikki Flanagan says:

    My daughter, Elexis, went to be with the Lord 10 months ago. We usually go to Blythe with friends and family. My son and husband went and I stayed behind. I ended up going for a day and cried almost the whole time. I always wonder how you and your family are doing. I feel like i’m in the worst spiritual battle of my life. I know I will see her again, but to live here without her is almost unbearable. I know you know how I feel. Thank you for your blog today. It is a great encouragement for me to come home to. I needed it. God bless you.

  6. James Spurlock says:

    In Januray of 2008 the Lord directed my wife and I to an opportunity to move to Riverside and construct a new Medical Office Building for Loma Linda Univeristy Hospital. Little did we realize the true reason to move to Riverside was for the opportunity to share in Harvest Church. During our stay our Son and his wife were expecting our first Grandchild back in Texas. Shortly into the pregnancy the mother and baby began to have major complications and we thought we were going to loose both of them. Harvest Church was there to lend a caring heart and thousands of prayers! Each weekend I had such enjoyment in hearing you speak of the love of your grandbaby Stella and all the Stella stories and it made me realize just how precious these grandchildren are. I am happy to say that because of your touching our hearts and all the prayers we have celebrated our grandchilds first birthday this week. We cut our trip to Riverside short due to this emergency and returned back to Texas one week before her birth. Then three weeks later we received the news about Topher, it simply was crushing. How could Jesus take the son of such a great man who has brought so many to Jesus! Pastor Greg we love you, you and your family are always in our prayers.

  7. Alessandro says:

    God Bless – Happy 4th

  8. Heather says:

    Youve shared so much of youre grief with all of us, weve been so encourged by the strength Jesus has given you and your family! Youre all in our prayers and we love you guys! Its awesome what you wrote about Farrah and Micheal, such truth with great compassion! May the Lord truely bless you all today! Happy 4th! Love your sister n Christ Heather

  9. Dawn Buerger says:

    Hi Greg~

    I visit your blog often, but have never commented before.
    I remember the day I heard of Tophers accident, my heart immediately broke for you and your family.. tears filled my eyes for someone I never knew, yet when we are the body of Christ, the Lord binds us in such a powerful way that we truly feel each others pain.. I think of you and your family often, and keep you in my prayers.
    Just 6 months after you lost your precious son, my daughter gave birth to her first child, He was the first grandchild for me. I was so excited! and I couldnt wait to spoil him. 🙂 and tell him all about Jesus!
    Ayden Michael was born on Jan.9,2009 and died on Feb.13,09 of intestine failure, he was just 35 days old. My heart shattered, and life as I knew it stopped.. everything just stopped. And now I am also like you.. on this unknown journey of grief. Holding onto the things I know are true in Christ.. because If I dont, the loss is absolutely un-bearable, and life would make no sense at all.
    There was a quote in your book that you wrote about losing Topher.. that has been a life saver for me, and it was simply this, “Dont trade the unknowns, for what you do know.” Amen!! because that is exactly what can happen when you are in so much pain and disbelief. I was getting lost in the questions.. and falling away from Christ in the midst of this hurt. That sentence stopped me in my tracks.. and I wanted to say thank you for taking the time to write that book. And just simply thank you for who you are 🙂
    Tears in a bottle.. no kidding! I have gallon jugs also. Yet, I know I will see my precious grandson again one day soon. Just like you will see your Christopher again! And you are right when you say that Heaven now feels even closer than it ever has before. It truly is!
    “What an awesome day we will all have when the Lord calls us home.” that is our Truth and our Life and what gets me through from day to day.. as I know it does with you and your family.
    Until then, I remind myself every day that the Lord still has us here, for a reason.. and we absolutely have to press forward..we have come this far because he has brought us this far.. and he is here with us.
    I could go on and on.. but I better not. 🙂 I have a way of talking too much.

    I will keep you in my prayers.. and please do the same for us.
    We just found out that my daughter is expecting again! that was a surprise! this child is also due in January. “May the Lord bless us with a healthy child who will grow to know him and serve him.” Amen.

    From my family to yours.. May God Bless and Keep you, every day 🙂

    In Christ,

  10. Jaymi says:

    Oh my…Greg, this is so beautifully honest and heart-wrenching. This post brought me to tears, not just tears of sadness, but those that are colored with hope everlasting. To watch, you and your family continue to trust in the Lord through all of this; it’s beyond encouraging. You never let go of the hand of Jesus…You are bringing such Glory to God. Your family’s testimony is now, explosive! It pierces the heart of all those who have been a witness of it. I have to say, your wife is amazing, a beautiful woman of God. She is still blessing the name of the Lord and upholding your right arm at the same time; a virtuous Jewel for sure, far above rubies.
    Oh to see our loved ones again! To see Jesus face to face…What a future, what a hope. Until then, you have my loving prayers.
    Your friend eternal,

  11. Teri says:

    Have a blessed 4th of July~ I totally agree that we should not take our family or our freedom for granted! God has truly blessed our great country and I am so thankful each and every day that I wake up! I will keep the Laurie family in prayer, remembering Christopher’s departure to heaven. Blessings~ Teri

  12. Levi Lusko says:

    We had so much fun with you guys last year. As close to a perfect day as you get…except for the part where we almost blew ourselves up! And I can’t help but think– as much fun as a “perfect day” on earth can be, I can only imagine how glorious heaven will be–

    We love you guys and can’t wait to see Topher and hear his laugh again.


  13. Tisha-Monique Pena says:

    Happy 4th of July Pastor Greg, to you and all of your family. I read your daily devotionals everyday and when I just cant get enough of that I love reading your blogs. I don’t personally know you or your family but as my pastor and as my pastors family, I consider you part of my family. I love you all and continue to pray for you always.

    My cousin passed away a couple of years ago now and I still see the pain, sadness and confusion in my aunts heart and eyes as she misses her only son very much. They were extremely close, as you and your son were, so I understand and sympathize with your hurting heart. I have a little girl (our first and only one at this time) and I think I would completely lose it if anything were to happen to her; if God were to take her home. I am a Christian woman but initially, i would be torn to bits and tiny pieces. My aunt is not a Christian woman and so she is dealing the best her worldly ways are guiding her. My point is, whether it takes 1yr, 3yrs, 8yrs or a lifetime to truly feel a sense of peace about the loss of your son, please don’t ever apologize for expressing your heart about your son with us. Some of us know first hand of your grief, and the rest of us don’t really but all-in-all, we are all understanding.
    Thank you for continuing to be strong in your Faith in God regardless of what trials are brought upon you. Our God is an awesome God and he has made you in his likeness.

    Blessings to all of you on this Fourth of July.

  14. cas says:

    I so appreciate your honesty. May the Lord continue to sustain you and your family in this time. Thanks for sharing your journey.

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