Christian the Overcomer


Today Christian overcame his fear of the dreaded Journey to Atlantis ride at Seaworld. As you watch, listen to the fear in his groans while we are rising to the top of the roller coaster, and then watch the joy on his face after we reach the bottom. Isn't life just like that? We are afraid of the unknown, only to discover that with God's help and patient prodding (this was a 2-year fear for Christian to overcome), when we reach the bottom we discover there was nothing to fear at all.

God, I love you for that. Help me to overcome my fears. I need you now. JG

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.

Nothing is truer than love

Jeff Youngren, a friend of mine, a scientist, and an amazing photographer here in San Diego, recently took some photographs of me and the boys. I'd requested a couple of headshots for some projects I've taken on. Jeff thought it might also be a good opportunity to grab some of the boys, so we headed out to Point Loma Nazarene University on what turned out to be the perfect day for it. What he captured makes me want to cry.

The first thing I think about when looking at these photos (and there are so many more) is that the boys are remarkably handsome and photogenic. Getting past their physical appearance, though, I start wondering what they're thinking about...what they believe is next on our horizon. Looking at the picture of Christian above, I doubt he's thinking about anything else but having fun. But look deep into Everen's eyes in the picture below. What's going on behind that beautiful face? I think about these things all the time, and I can't help wondering if I've done all I can to prepare them for the road ahead.

And what is the road ahead? Only God knows. I trust part of it will include telling the world about the power of love, or at least that's what I pray about now. For as sappy as it sounds, love is everything. It's what we identify with in the movies. It's what makes us smile and yearn for more. It's what keeps us going when all else is failing around us. And I'm not just talking about love in a man/woman relationship, but in friendships as well. Where there's love, there's always hope. Nothing is truer than love. And it all began with the Love that was nailed to a cross more than 2,000 years ago.

Tonight I asked Everen what he thought was beyond the first anniversary of "Happy Heaven Day" this August 15th. He said he hasn't planned that far ahead. I couldn't help but smile and wonder.....

Looking up. JG

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.

A NEW BEGINNING

This is how it began, kind of. See, this was Tuesday morning. We were supposed to leave on vacation Monday morning. Thankfully the airline notified me that the first leg of our flight was late and that we would miss our connection from Denver to Indianapolis. Three hours later, after much debate (believe me, it was debated), the boys and I decided to sleep in our beds rather than under a Denver International row of seats overnight. So we began our summer vacation a day late.

Now it appears that Christian has a mild form of chicken pox, though the pediatrician couldn't confirm it. If it is, Everen's been exposed to it, and each of them will have a rough few weeks ahead. But that didn't stop us from having some fun today.
Our mission was to find a frog and a salamander. All I can say is that we would never make it as secret agents. Instead of frogs or salamanders, Christian found excessive amounts of mud with his shoes, and we all discovered that mosquitoes love rivers as much as we suspected frogs do. I'm ashamed to admit that it is mosquitoes, not the loss of Jeseca or any other tragedy in my life, that has made me wonder if God really knows what he's doing. Horrible creatures, really.

But then we stumbled upon an old railroad track that crosses through town, and the little boy in me thought it would be fun for all of us to march up track to see what we find. It was awesome.
Old (but still used, evidently) tracks, rusty rail spikes and broken ties...it was like I was an 8-year-old kid again. Part of the fun was wondering if a train was going to come up behind us and force us off the tracks. And for exactly one mile, I challenged myself to walk solely on one side of the track, one foot in front of the other. I actually prayed I wouldn't fall toward the end, and I'm happy to say (and who really cares but me anyway?) that I made it. Yup, I'm definitely an 8-year-old kid.

It made for a great time in place of frogs and mosquitoes. But I have to admit that there was something missing today. I know what it is and it scares me...

So I continue marching down the track of life to discover God's eventual purpose for me. And just as I did today, I do all I can to lead the boys along their own.

It's all for him. I'm just trying to keep from falling off. JG

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 Would Have Been 12

Today would have been 12 years married. Twelve years, sweetheart! Crazy. It's so strange to think about the time that's passed and the progress we've made as a family since last August 15th. You know the scripture that says God uses the bad things in our lives for good..... Somehow we will be better without Jeseca than we were with her here. That's the part that really requires faith and trust, isn't it?

I was in church yesterday. The worship band sang I Can Only Imagine. "I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by your side; I can only imagine what my eyes will see when your face is before me; I can only imagine..." I couldn't help but think that Jeseca knows now. She doesn't have to imagine anymore. She's there doing whatever it is she was able to do at her first glimpse of Jesus. What an amazing thought. I'm envious.

So much is happening now. The boys are just two days away from the end of their first official year in a daily school environment. My dad's (and my) business just landed its first client. My article hit the Web and has served as a springboard for other opportunities to talk about Jeseca, our new life as a Single Dad family, and the hope we have in our great God. And I finally hung some artwork in the house.

This journey continues. Most of it is challenging, but there are so many smiles in it all. And I don't do it alone. I have the help of my family and friends (I love you all so much), and the support of an amazing God who continually shapes and molds my heart into the weapon it should be against my own selfishness and pride. A heart for Him. JG

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.

New for Now

This is just a test of what I hope will turn out to be a better site and blog. My role's changed 100%, so my site has changed to reflect that. I hope it works.

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.

1st Mother's Day without Mom

Do you ever wonder if our loved ones in Heaven know what's going on down here? Does God brief them on how we're doing? Can they see what's happening? There's a passage in the Old Testament that piques my curiosity. Either way, it sure would be interesting to know if Jeseca has seen the boys taking music lessons at ARTS. They sure have a lot of fun.

Today was an interesting first Mother's Day without Jeseca. I recall that Everen gave his heart to Jesus on Mother's Day three years ago. It was a moment Jeseca treasured in her heart for the rest of her life. She would have treasured today, as well, as Christian got up in front of his Sunday School classmates and led a worship song with his guitar. Alright, that's a stretch. . . he was supposed to lead worship and sing "Awesome God" but experienced a bit of stage fright. The result was a slow acoustic ballad without words. So funny.
Later we visited the grave site and left a couple of carnations we got from Souplantation's breakfast buffet. We were there just long enough to note that this was the first Mother's Day without Mom, and then said a prayer together. There must be a reason for it all. Maybe the boys will form a band and tell the world how God drastically changed their lives one crazy day in the summer of 2007......the day He required them to eat their Dad's cooking for the next several years.
Still marching... JG
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 cap to an emotional week

I just finished transcribing Jeseca's journals. I had to turn the music off so I wouldn't taint certain songs with whatever it is I'm feeling. Perhaps you've seen an athlete break down in tears after accomplishing a life-long dream? Mix that in with sorrow and that's about how I feel. It's as if she died again.

I have so much to say about what she wrote, and I realize that I will have to do so in a book yet to be written. What I can tell you with all certainty is that the life Jeseca led was pleasing to God, and that she loved Him with all of her heart, mind, soul and strength. She was greatly loved in return.

Jeseca's journals will be available on her site in a couple of weeks. I need some time to convert them from Word into a downloadable PDF, and to set up the payment option.

Tonight, though, I have a prayer request. I've been asked to write a 2,000 word article for New Man Magazine (it has a subsciber base of 16,000 men). The article will cover what it was like to lose Jes, how I've led the boys through, and will (hopefully) challenge men to invest in their marriages. If you think of it, please pray that God will give me the words these men need to hear.

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.

One year ago

I hadn't planned to post tonight. I'm finalizing the design for Jeseca's (and my) headstone, otherwise known as a marker. Thumbing through Jeseca's journals for a quote I might use, I came across the following entry dated May 1, 2007:

"Hello Lord, my King and Savior. I lay at your feet, feeling so done, so tired. Wishing that I could stay in bed all day, I instead push myself to get up, make breakfast for those boys, do school and try to make it through dinner...sometimes in too much pain to bear. I am too weak now to do much, and my poor sweetie has had to take over things like laundry, dishes, etc., even while he is burdened with work and his dad's business. He gets up at 4:45 every morning to work out and study the Bible, and then stays up until I go to bed around 10 or 11. He is such a good man; thank you, Lord.

"Even now I am getting too tired to write, but I want to thank you for speaking through Christian to me tonight. I was telling him and Everen how it may get to the point where I am in bed all the time, but to always trust and believe that God will heal me. Christian replied, "It's like you're going to take a snoozy-poo (nap) while God's healing you!" Thank you, Lord, for letting me know it's okay to rest and be sick. You are still healing me!"

There's a TobyMac song titled, "I'm For You" that I used to sing to Jes. I thought of it as my anthem to her. I was wrong. It was her anthem to me and the boys. I've never seen such faith or love. Lord, make me like that. Like you. JG

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.

Share it, give it, know it, live it

Many things have happened over the past couple of weeks. In a way, most were remarkable, at least inasmuch as they had significance. Most remarkable, perhaps, is that I was invited to speak at a local school to discuss my experience with cancer among the seventh grade class.

Jon Graves with the Correia Middle School 7th Grade ClassThe students were wonderfully attentive, and their teacher a top-notch educator, adding real-life experiences to book-learning, and providing iPods to each group so they could record each speaker's discussion and produce their own podcasts. I told each of them that having cancer doesn't mean you're dead. Jeseca lived more passionately in the last four years than she ever had, never losing her smile or zest for life, even during the worst moments of treatment. I then showed them the Bessie Coleman book she illustrated (just one of her many incredible accomplishments), and gave it to the most charming young woman (seated in the middle of the front row). She responded in kind and gave me a flower. The experience was beyond rewarding.

Next, the boys, their Uncle Mikey and I went to Boomers today to have some fun. We've been there several times in the past eight months. Today seemed to be the most fun. I won the first three races (in typical, rub-your-nose-in-it fashion), then tragically lost the last two. Hate that.

Jon Graves and son, Christian, winning go-cart racing at Boomers And now, after typing for nearly two straight hours, I am just 10 entries away from finishing Jeseca's journals. I have to say that I'm unsure how to feel about it. This project, transcribing her journals for all to read, has been an integral part of my life these last several months. As I near the end of it, I can't help wondering what to do after I finish it. It's just.......well.......

I'll leave you with an entry from her journals dated September 12, 2006 (11 months before she died.)

Your love sustains, empowers, and gives courage. It builds bridges, closes gaps, and puts out fires. It gives new hope, new dawns, and new days. It opens doors, closes them, and breaks them down.

Your love heals hearts, heals bodies, and heals minds. It protects the helpless, the hopeless, and all who are lost.

Your love is a light, a small flame, and a blazing fire. It always protects, never rejects, and always believes.

Your love sends us forth into the world to places we don't want to go to help people we never would have helped.

Your love: To share it, to give it, to know it, to live 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.

Falling from 13,000

13,000 feet and 120mph straight down. Shan, this is for you. Go for 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.