Starting Fresh

I lost my first wife, Jeseca, to cancer eight years ago. Why start with that? Well, because it was the most difficult situation I’ve ever faced, and it has shaped nearly every action I’ve taken in my life since. Something happens when you lose the person you love more than anyone in the world—it forces you to consider a number of things: why you loved them, what you did right and what you did wrong, how you can possibly go on, etc. But the piece that really matters comes when you can logically ask Why. "Why did this happen to me?" As I thought and prayed about it, I realized something critically important: Losing my wife didn’t happen to me. Rather, the life we had together strengthened who I am; and despite the pain, her death forged a deeper sense of character within me, and it would influence any thought I had of moving forward.

Somewhere between the first and second years as a widowed single dad, I started praying about the next woman in my life. It wasn’t that I was ready…I definitely wasn’t. But I was able to outline some very specific characteristics in the woman I might someday bring into the family culture I had worked so hard to cultivate. I never considered that God would steer me in the direction of a woman who’d never had sex before, didn’t know what it was to be a mom, and was so strict in her convictions that terms such as “date” and “boyfriend” took on monumentally different meanings. In the end, though, a small voice assured me that Lindsey Nicole Isham was the woman we needed. And boy did I fight it.

You see, I’d read Lindsey’s book. A friend dropped it off a day or so after she launched her speaking tour. Within those 200 or so pages, she spoke about the man of her dreams; a man she had yet to meet. As I turned every page, I knew more and more that she was talking about me.

I reached out with an email, encouraging her to keep standing strong (just as I had been after losing my wife). Several letters later, we decided to meet, and over the course of three years we developed a friendship, flirted with dating and the very-scary-for-me title of “boyfriend/girlfriend,” went to a few TV auditions for one another, landed on TLC together, and then in front of millions of people across the country, I proposed to her on ABC’s The View. Four months later, with an incredible San Diego skyline serving as the backdrop, Lindsey and I officially began our journey together.

The reception was one of the best nights of our lives, and as we chatted with friends and family, shared laughs together and performed our elegantly choreographed opening number, I’m sure there was one question on the minds of everyone in attendance: How is tonight going to go? Believe me, that’s what Lindsey and I were wondering as we checked into the La Costa Resort and Spa to spend our very first night together. I’ll leave the rest of that story for Lindsey, but what I can tell you is from that night on, Lindsey and I have developed an incredible relationship due almost entirely to the fact that she saved herself for marriage. How can that be true? There are several reasons, but most of all is the very real fact that men care about how they please the woman in their life. Call it pride or just being a guy; it’s real. And with that comes one big question: “Am I better than anyone else she’s been with?” Believe me, no matter how narcissistic the man, that question exists in his head. Lindsey, because of how she lived and the stance she took, removed that thought from our relationship, and it has given us the opportunity to build a relationship based on trust, incredible intimacy, and a great sense of excitement for the future God has for us. God has that for you, too. All you have to do is wait.


Four years later...

Just looking at this familiar, but so far removed from present life screen is strange. It's been so long since I've had the chance, or even the interest to write again. And now......well, where do I begin?

I made some changes to the site this week. To gain perspective on how long it's actually been, my age read that I was still 36. Time sure presses on. But after Monday's appearance on the Today Show, I realize that I still have much to do and say.

I receive quotes from a friend of mine each day. They're sent automatically, but the quote from Thursday was appropriate for who I am, who I was recognized to be this week (Hottest Single Dad in America), and for tomorrow (Father's Day 2011).

My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it." ~Clarence B Kelland

I hope this will be the beginning of another great segment in time.


Time for a change

It's been a long time since I've written, and I've missed it. I've made myself busy; I've spent time on other things and with other people. But now I want to come back here and begin a different journey. I want to explore what it is to be a man. A real man. I don't like the word authentic...I think it's too cliche today. But I'm driven to become the man I'm supposed to be, and perhaps even take some men with me along the way.

I've spent the past 2+ years trying to become a better man than I was in my two previous lives (as a baseball player and when I was married). I've become a P90X fanatic. I've learned how to cook nearly everything you want to eat. I've broadened my interests in music and movies, and even done some interior decorating to make our condo feel tranquil for the three of us. I've put myself on video for the world to see and entertained the idea of a reality TV show with five different production studios.

I've met incredible, beautiful women, grown my hair out as long as I could stand it, and spoken to 500+ athletes about what it is to trust God in the middle of what seems to be a nightmare. I've thought about one day becoming the President of the United States, writing a best seller, and/or chasing the impossible dream of playing on the PGA Tour.

But what matters most to me are the two young men living at home with me. Do they know what it takes to be a man? Having lost their mom at such young ages, have they seen in me the courage and faith required to make it through the toughest challenges with grace? Time will tell, right?

That's where I want to go now. I want to show them how to be the best men they can be. To be honest at all costs. To be chivalrous. To reach beyond their own grasp on faith, and trust that God will raise them up when the time is right. To never give up. To honor women. And to be courageous when they're scared.

So what makes a man a man? That's what I want to teach them. And that's where this site may turn to next.

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

Year 3 is about to begin

The boys are back again! Well, that's not entirely true. Now they're at their aunt April's house camping out for the next few days, but at least they're back in California. We're just two weeks away from the second anniversary of Jeseca's death and the beginning of the third official school year at The Rock Academy. And perhaps something even more amazing looms.........

I've been going through old video over the past few days, and have taken some new footage of the 3GBs. Two of those videos are below. The first is of all of us at the ice skating rink around Christmas just before Jeseca was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2003; the second is from Friday's hair cut session at Sweet Salon in Ocean Beach. We are all so much younger, and yours truly doesn't look nearly as burdened or weathered by the storms that came immediately afterward. But you know what? We're all still smiling because God has given us the hope to go on. He's a great God...

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

Just 1GB at home

Yeah, my boys have left town. They're in Indiana right now and the house is so quiet...so different. I found these photos of a tour of the airport they recently took while I was working away. Aren't they so cute? Hilarious that Christian hit Everen with Rabbit Ears! Love this one... And where in the world do boys get this idea that they have to flex? I just don't get it...
My boys are growing up. They are charming and handsome...much more so than their dad. And they show such promise. I read in the Psalms the other night that brothers who live in unity are extraordinary (it actually said they're like oil dripping down Aaron's beard, but somehow I have a hard time grasping the greatness in that). Most of the time they do live in unity, and I'm so proud of them for that.

Have fun guys!!!!!!!!! I love you.

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

Love never fails

I heard Daughtry's new album yesterday. I know it's not out yet, but through Rhapsody I was able to listen to it a week before its release. I like Daughtry for some reason, and this album's pretty good. One of the most touching songs is called Tennessee Line. It starts with, "I opened my lungs to breathe in forgiveness and love..." What a great beginning......

I've begun thinking about love again. I've thought about it before, but as I approach two years without Jeseca I'm beginning to appreciate how profound love actually is. That may seem weird since I fulfilled my vow to stand by her side for the rest of her life. I guess I've only just begun to understand the depth and courage it took, and takes today, to say Yes to someone and promise that, through thick and thin, you'll be there to see him or her through.

I think love starts all of us on our journeys, anyway. Your first car, first job, first bank account, first trip...none of those work when it comes to our hearts. Love makes our blood rush and our hearts pound, and gives us that unique sense of purpose that comes with knowing that someone cares so much about you that nothing would keep them from standing next to you on your darkest day. Isn't that what we all want?

When you have it and it's suddenly taken from you, whether through death or divorce, life as you know it changes drastically, too. Love is gone, and life means something new entirely. It becomes about survival. It becomes about the task at hand. It becomes about your job, your money, your car, your trips, your whatever... Love is gone, so what else is there?

I get it. Trust me, I never took the time to really ponder how special it was to have someone by my side through all of the bad days. Life was running fast and I was keeping up. If you're married, don't do that. Don't keep up. Look at your wife or husband and know that you are one of the lucky ones who found that person who promised his or her life to you because they love you. They chose you. Spin it all you want, but that's phenomenal.

See, what's most amazing about love, genuine love that puts another person above yourself, is that it's not about you at all. Yes, we want to hear that we are loved. We want to feel it coming back before we jump. But if you're honest with yourself, you don't love someone after hearing them say they love you. You either love them or you don't. And that's why meeting someone who will love you back, someone who chooses to stand by your side through the ups and downs of this life, is an absolute miracle in a world polluted with the search for money and sex.

As 1 Corinthians 13 says, "Love is patient, love is kind. It doesn't envy, it doesn't boast, it is not proud. It's not rude, it's not self-seeking, it's not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love doesn't delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails."

I want that chance again; the chance to love someone better and stronger than I've ever loved before. I know I'll blow it. But I will relish showing someone again that I can be better and stronger and gentler and funnier and happier every day we're together.

Ahh, the perspective of a hopelessly romantic widower...just what you needed, right? Think about it. It's pretty special to have someone say they love you, isn't it?

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

The lemon tree

Do you believe in symbolism when it comes to every day items and the significance we place on them as we go about life? I do, I guess. I've had a lemon tree in a pot on our porch ever since we moved. Technically, it was Jeseca's lemon tree, but Christian said he wanted to take care of it shortly after she died and we've had it in the pot ever since. Over the past twelve months I've watered and nurtured it, hoping that the single lemon hanging three feet above the ground would indicate when it was time to be picked. But slowly, as if following my heart and the memories of a life that continue to fade, the tree has been dying.

That sounds sad, I guess, but it's not. As I look around our apartment and see the new memories we've made, it shows me that life really does go on. We're not victims of some malicious plan to ruin our lives. We're victors. We are overcoming one of the hardest things to deal with in life...death. And all because of the hope we have in Christ. The boys know they will see their mom again, and they also know that we have a life to live, and we choose to dream big.

There are many instances in nature where death creates an opportunity for new life. We are seeing that in our lives, and while we don't know where we're being led, we trust that God will continue to use what some would consider a horrible tragedy for the best possible future for three Graves boys...

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

It's Coming

For the past several months, I've contemplated what to write about after writing about Jeseca for so long. I've written about hope, love, and an incredible God who has carried this family through a loss we honestly didn't see coming. And now? Well, that's why I like this commercial.

I don't know exactly what lies ahead, but I know what's in me, Who's in me, and I expect something extraordinary from the rest of this life.

I know who I am again. And I'm gonna do all He has created me to do. Every last thing on the list...

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.

"Tomorrow"

Tomorrow's the day; I have reached the end. I have come to the point of no return. The miracles I performed have touched thousands; I fed thousands more with two fish and a loaf of bread. And the smiles on the faces of my dearest friends and family tell the story, many times over, of the life I've lived for the Father here. But everything will change tomorrow.

I know what's coming, for I knew of this day before I formed the earth and everything in it. It will be harder than anything man has faced here, but I'll see it through. I love this man so much that I will give my life in exchange for his so that he can be with me in eternity. There is no other way.

I've seen what he will do...the mistakes he will make, the people he will hurt, the pain he will cause so many. But the cross is still worth it to me; I cannot bear to see him lost to the prince of this world.

So I have purposed in my heart to submit to the will of the Father. I will take the beating for this man. For him, they can rip out my beard and spit on me. They can ridicule me and tear the flesh from my body. For this one man, I will allow them to torture me until I am finally able to carry this cross of mine up to the crest of Golgotha. And for him I will pray as they nail my feet and hands to the tree I created, for he doesn't know the depth of his sin and what it will cost him if I don't do this. But I won't lose him to that. He is far too precious to me.

So tomorrow night, when the Romans come with my dear friend, Judas, I will stand and face this death I don't deserve. And while every one of my followers will desert me......and most troublesome of all, while I stand on that cross and watch as the Father turns His face from mine for the very first time......I will follow through on my promise to this man, and it will change his life forever.

I can't wait for tomorrow......


Man's Hero

It's been a long time... I don't have much to say today except that Jesus is amazing. He is my hero. He should be every man's hero. Here's why:

From his career in professional baseball to an attempt at professional golf and the tragic loss of his wife, Jon Graves is on the journey of his life.