The best Mother’s Day ever

Life for us got derailed a little more than four years ago. The wreckage was overwhelming and seemed as though repairing life and getting back on track could never happen. Thankfully it does. Lately I feel like I have finally come to accept life without Jake.

I spoke with a 30 year  club member the other day. The lady lost a daughter to a drunk driver in 1988. We shared our stories with tears and she said something unexpected to me. “Boy” she paused, “Your on the fast tract. It took me a lot longer to get where you are in the healing process.”

Actually, I have felt that way sometimes and other times I felt like I was wearing lead boots in quicksand. We are moving forward. Time is our friendly escort away from the wreckage and I rarely stop and take a look back at it. I never wanted to stop healing and get stuck in grief and it saddens me to watch those who aren’t moving forward.

Grief is a terrible place to stay. I decided long ago I would rather hurt moving forward than hurt standing still. There’s no schedule in grief but there are many exits and layovers on the journey. I expect delays but I never stop for very long. The final destination is heaven but as the country song says, “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to go now.” I can relate to that.


Life took a cozy and scenic turn two Sundays ago. Our oldest revealed to us that they are having a baby and we finally get to be grandparents. It was the best Mothers Day ever!


I remember in the early days of our pain saying to my wife that I didn’t want grandchildren. I did not want to love with the possibility of losing again. What Stacey responded with has stuck with me through these difficult four years. “Mike,” she said, “It is better to have loved and lost than to never to have loved at all.” She’s right.

We are greatly blessed by God who gives and takes away. Jake was taken away from us but the One who gives us life and breath is forming a new life in my sweet baby girl.

Nothing could ever replace Jacob, but God has chosen to change our season of grief into a season of joy with a new life. For this I give him thanks.

There have been many twist and turns on our grief journey. I feel like we have hit a straight away but not so naive to think that there will not be more bumps along the way.

I am enjoying life. I am excited about our future and our first grandchild coming into our family. Life is good. God is good.

13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)



Overcoming seasonal depression by the two advents of hope.

This Christmas is our fourth holiday season without our beloved Jacob. Much has changed in our lives since his departure. Much is an understatement of the truth I suppose. Truth is, everything has changed and nothing is the same for us in life which especially includes our holiday observances.

Stacey and I have often said to each other, “I can’t believe this is our life.” It’s as if we walked through the wardrobe into Narnia but the way back was lost to us. If I were given the script for our biography to read five years ago I would have placed it in the genre of fiction. I guess truth is truly stranger than fiction. Through it all I have found the words of king David to ring true and provide much comfort for my soul.

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
 He guards all his bones;

I am thankful that God is near me, that he saves me, delivers me, guards me and protects me in all my troubles. This is especially true at this time of year when seasonal depression and waves of grief can overcome my heart so quickly.

I remember the terrible dread of those first couple holiday seasons. I also remember hearing from others who had lost children that the grief will change, it will get better but Christmas will never be the same. I have found this to be true.

The Christmas season is here again and advent is being observed by many Christians. We all get a little short-sighted at this time of year. The holiday buzz is everywhere and I can get distracted quickly with all the sights, sounds and smells of the season. I can also easily get swamped by grief and focus on the empty chairs in the family room. My eyes can lose their focus very fast. When hope is forgotten, comfort is forfeited and despair grips my heart when I lose sight of the reason for the season.

The coming of Emanuel was prophesied by Isaiah. The hope of nations was born in Bethlehem, placed in a manger and later nailed to a cross for the redemption of all who believe. He walked out of the grave, showed himself to many witnesses, ascended to the right hand of God and now Christians wait for the great second advent of the King.

God comforts the Christian. He dries the tears of his children with the tissue of hope. My hope is anchored in the reality that Jesus is coming again. As a believer in Christ I do not grieve as the world grieves because I have a living hope. I have God. This brings me great consolation.

All my sorrow will someday be turned into joy when I see Jesus face to face and he reunites me with my boy. All this is possible because the promised advent of Messiah was fulfilled in Jesus over 2000 years ago. The second advent is assured by Jesus himself and secured by his victory over sin and death through his resurrection from the dead.

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:2-3

The prophesied first advent is over and the promised second advent is soon to come. There is something far better waiting for those who love him and watch for his appearing. I encourage you to wait patiently in hopeful anticipation as you endure the many trials of this life. I leave you with theses comforting words of God penned through the apostle Paul.

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

Merry Christmas Jake!


A joyful and hope filled Christmas to you all!



Best wishes

Our beloved Jacob Michael Fekete would be 25 today.

In my minds eye I see 25 imaginary candles on a make believe cake that will never be baked. 25 imaginary flickering flames to blow upon, to extinguish and to wish on better things. I remember your hopes, I remember your dreams son. I remember with a heavy heart and wish that those hopes and dreams for you had come true.

I wish to wish, if I could wish, if it were possible, if reality were not so real and birthday wishes really did come true. I would wish to blow out those 25 candles and these 25 things are the wishes I’d wish for you.


I wish you could see your sister. I wish you could see her smiling face at her wedding to one of your most loved friends. I wish you could see their love and I wish you could meet Oakley their one year old puppy. I wish that you could visit with your Bo and again share joy and laughter with your siblings.


I wish I could hand you tickets to the NCAA wrestling finals your brother will compete in next weekend. I wish you could cheer for him- you were always his biggest fan. I wish you two could sit and catch up and I wish you could see what an incredible man he has become. I wish you could stand as his best man this June and I wish you could see his bride and the beautiful person she is. I wish you could meet their enormous puppy named Pine.



I wish you could speak to your mother’s heart and I wish you could still her soul. I wish you could see her strength, her faith and her perseverance. I wish you could write an assuring love note and tuck it under her pillow like you used to do. I wish you could could walk through the doors of our new home in Beulah and lay a big Jacob hug on her. I wish you could walk with her down Center street to the beach and to the shoppes downtown.


I wish we could all sit as a family once again. I wish I could hear your voice, your gargled laughter and I wish I could see that thin crooked smile again. I wish you had found that simple girl you wanted to marry in a pretty yellow sundress. I wish you had found love.

I’d wish for your peace. I’d wish for your joy. I’d wish for your contentment.

I want you back but I would never wish you back Jacob. 25 candles and 25 birthday wishes for you but of those wishes only three have come true. You are at peace, you have pure joy and you are completely content. Best wishes and happy birthday in heaven son.

We love you.





Xanax altenative: my prescription for grief

In our journey with grief my wife and I have not used medications as a means of coping with the pain. It wasn’t long after Jacob’s death that I went for my annual physical and I told my doctor that I just preferred to deal with everything head on without drugs.

Grief is warfare and I battle its symptoms daily. I fight against sadness and loneliness for my son. I get anxious and I fall into depression. I get irritable, frustrated and angry at times. Grief is still a daily battle, I expect it to change but I would be a fool to believe that I will ever be free of it. I can’t suppress it, or ignore it, or expect it to just go away. I don’t believe I can medicate or drink it away either. I can fill my life with busyness, entertainment, work, vacations and run from grief but though I may run I am unable to hide.

So how do I cope? Some may think that I run to religion to medicate. After all Mike is a man of faith and for him religion is his crutch to hold him up. It may surprise you to know that I reject religion, it is a blight on the earth because religion is built on lies and I prefer truth. I believe in unchangeable absolutes and I apply the healing balm of truth to the pain of life to comfort my troubled heart. Truth is medicine for the soul and Jesus the lover of my soul is truth. He alone can mend my broken heart.

I often walk with sadness in my heart. When the heaviness for my son weighs on me I often pray the simple prayer of, “God, help me.” In those times Jesus the Good Shepherd comes near so that I never lack any good thing. He brings me to the still waters, he causes me to rest in green meadows. He restores my soul.


When confused and without wisdom on how to navigate the pain he leads in in the right path and I follow him for the sake of his name.

There are times I have felt as though I was dying inside, robbed of my joy and utterly destroyed. But the Good Shepherd says to me, “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) The times I walk through the valley of the shadow of death he has calmed my anxiety and quelled my fears. For he is present with me, with his rod Jesus corrects me, and with his staff he gently guides my steps.

Though the enemy of my soul desires to destroy me I am richly blessed by the Good Shepherd. I look around, I see his grace, my cup overflows with his blessings. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

When hope sees dim and the dark days casts doubt over my faith I remember the truth, I remember his way and I recall his life. The Good Shepherd speaks and I hear his tender voice, he calls me by name and I follow him. He whispers to me, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)

So with confidence and great hope in the truthful voice of the Lord my shepherd I have hope and eternal life. I can conclude my life as David the sweet psalmist did and joyfully proclaim, “And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23) This is my hope, this is my future, this is the truth and it is good medicine for my soul.

Jesus gives me what no medication can ever provide. He gives me faith, hope and love. He provides me comfort, peace and assurance of the future. He makes me strong when I am weak, we makes me wise though I am a fool. He is mercy, he is grace, he is all I need. I don’t need Xanax and I certainly don’t need religion all I need is the truth. Jesus is truth. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

Medication left in a bottle will never help anybody get well and the same is true with the Christian faith. Dosage directions on the label are to be followed precisely for the good of the patient, this is true of the Christian faith as well. The symptoms of grief are many, they attack my soul continually. When I am anxious, when I lose my peace, when I hurt I look to my Good Shepherd and he offers me his cure. I follow his prescription instructions and do as directed by the great physician my soul. It reads, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philipians 4:6-7)

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”- Jesus

The big picture we cannot see

No matter how tragic my story of grief has been I am quite often confronted with stories of  losses more tragic than my own. I am left muttering, “I can’t even imagine.” Losing a child is a unique grief, a fraternity of sorts whose dues are higher than we ever wanted to pay. I don’t have to imagine what that is like, I know the depth of sorrow it brings. I felt that weight again today, I felt it for a woman who lost her husband and two sons.

Today I read the heart wrenching true story penned many years ago but it reads like front page news. It is a story that has all the right components and intrigue to keep my attention. There is crisis, tragedy, grief, love, rescue, romance and a wedding leading to a happily ever after. I read the ancient biblical book of Ruth and found myself captivated as though I was reading it for the very first time.

Naomi is a grieving widow who left Bethlehem with her husband and boys because of a famine. They settle in Moab but she loses everything and decides to return home to Bethlehem alone. The events in her life were part of a bigger picture that she could not see.

There are some things I noticed about Naomi’s grief that brought me to tears today. As I walked in Naomi’s skin I picked up on a couple of helpful reminders for the broken hearted.

Beware of bitterness

Naomi becomes bitter at the fact that her daughters in-law have no husbands and no children. Naomi’s (whose name means pleasant) life is unpleasant and bitterness is setting in. She loves her girls and is willing to lose them too so that they might have a new start in life. This was just another bitter pill for her to swallow. She said to them, “No my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the Lord has gone out against me.” (Ruth 1:13b) She pleads with them to go back to their people and marry, but Ruth insists on returning with Naomi to Bethlehem.

Naomi believes God is against her because of her hardship and the bitterness grows. She in danger of making bitterness her new identity. When she arrives in Bethlehem with Ruth she actually renames herself. God renames many people in the bible, he names Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel and Simon to Peter. Each name given by God has their new identity weaved in the meaning. God did not rename Naomi, she took it upon herself and defined her new identity and gave herself a new name. I asked myself if I have taken an identity that God has not assigned or given me?

The town was buzzing at the return of Naomi, she must have looked much different because of her grief. “The whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; (pleasant) call me Mara (Mara means bitter) for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity on me?” (Ruth 1:19-21) 

Anger towards God and circumstances is a real dangerous place to stay. I was reminded that I must guard my heart and not allow grief to make me an angry and bitter person. There is a temptation to blame God, blame others and blame myself when life gets dark and difficult. Was Naomi right in her conclusion? No, there was much more happening that she could not see. The same is true for me as well. I constantly need to be reminded that, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Difficulties in life are going to come and rob us of happiness but  joy is different than happiness. Joy is not connected to our circumstances but is anchored in hope, a hope that sees the future. Paul speaks to this matter, he said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in  us.” (Romans 8:18) How can joy be found in a life filled with pain, grief and sorrow?

Joy is rooted in a historical event. The friends of Jesus were going to grieve terribly after the crucifixion of their friend. Jesus knew this and spoke of a joy that no man or circumstance could alter or take away. Jesus said to them, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:22) The Lord walked out of his tomb and appeared to the disciples. Thomas needed to see for himself and Jesus did just that. “Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” That was good enough for Thomas but what about us who don’t get to see? Do we get the same joy that they received? Jesus also said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed (happy, joyful) are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:28-29) For the Christian our hope and joy is anchored in a historical event.;The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Peter says to us, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy inexpressible and filled with glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)

When I think of genuine joy rooted in a future hope I think of my mother in-law Linda Philo. 15 years of serious sickness and the death of 2 grandsons 10 months apart brought her much sorrow and pain. She died 6 weeks after my son Jacob and she died with a joy that could not be taken from her. She was known, and is know for her encouraging smile and her sincere joy despite the many hardships she faced in this life. When I get down I think of her spirit, I remember her joy that was rooted in our shared hope in the risen Lord. He is our hope and joy that no man or circumstance can take away.


Linda Lou Philo

This is much bigger than me

Snap shots and intagram is about all we get in the big picture of what God is doing in our lives. This is another lesson I was reminded of in the story of Ruth and Naomi. Who knew what God was going to do? This is true for me as well in my story of grief and pain. What I learn from this book is that there is a bigger picture that I don’t see and it’s not all about me. Actually the short story of Ruth really isn’t about the people in the narrative. It’s a quick peek into the providence of God working in humanity to bring about his promised Messiah. This is a story about Jesus and his family tree. This is the big picture that Naomi could not see.

God promised childless Abraham a son and through his lineage the entire world would be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3) Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise.

Naomi, a Jewess, loses two sons and her husband then returns to Bethlehem bitter. Ruth comes with Naomi and marries Boaz. Ruth gives birth to Obed, Obed has a son named Jesse, and Jesse gives birth to king David. King David is promised that the Eternal King (Jesus) would be  in his lineage. (2 Samuel 7:16) Jesus was conceived by the Spirit in Mary (as promised in the garden of Eden Genesis 3:15) and in him every nation has the promised blessing of eternal life in his name. Peter said, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

The promise to Abraham and to David are being fulfilled in the Instagrams and snap shots found in the book of Ruth. There is a purpose in the pain, this is much bigger than them. Little did Naomi know that he Canaanite daughter in-law would be a part of the big picture that God was painting.

If you like happy endings and a great story read the short book of Ruth. In all the grief and pain there is a good God working his plan together to accomplish his desired good end. (Romans 8:28) I will give you the ending but there’s allot of good stuff in-between chapters 1 and chapter 4. Take the time to read it, you will be glad you did.

Naomi’s bitterness  left her and she became joyful once again. “And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.” (Ruth 4:17) I noticed that the name Mara that Naomi chose for herself was never used in reference to her. Life became pleasant for her again, she was not bitter and she was given joy from God despite all the sorrow. This is my great hope in my troubles as well.

The book of Ruth reminds me of many things I need to consider in my journey of grief. I don’t know why God allowed my son to die at 22. What I do know is that God is good and has good intentions for me all the time. I cannot see the big picture but God does. I am reminded to not allow anger and bitterness to be my identity and to rob me of the joy of the Lord. In the end I am again reminded that I am just a snap shot in history and this is His story and it’s all about Jesus and not me. There is a big picture that I cannot see but someday I will, and on that day I will no longer walk by faith. On that day my faith will be be sight.