in General

a spade a spade, a heart a journey

It’s Friday, and it’s noon as I start this blog. People often ask how we’re doing… I figured I’d write something up. This update will mark the end of me using CarePages for updates – CarePages is for patients, and we are no longer that. If you’ve been following our story via CarePages, please subscribe to TheMatthewsStory or BecauseofEzra for updates going forward.

How we are requires a fluid answer, and I will write my thoughts today… it will be a read. Feel free to skip this update if you’re not into self-reflection and/or spiritual thought.

There’s not a word that describes “how we are”, and “how we are” changes quickly and often. Robyn’s mom told her from a very young age there’s no “right” way to grieve. Grief classes and groups will all give you their preferred book, worksheet, or tip chart, etc.  The reality is every situation is so different, even when it’s the same – no one shares the exact same history and situation, and we all react differently. Personally, I am compelled to do a few things. I look inward, trying to make sense of the questions and loss. I look toward God for answers, but I think I will eventually receive peace rather than answers. I try hard to make myself available to my wife, who has her own set of thoughts to move through. She and I need each other’s brokenness and strength equally, to both open the door to express these thoughts and to step one foot forward after the other. Love dictates we don’t tell each other what to do, but stand next to each other as we experience this, talk it through, and let each other know it’s alright.

Our struggle is just as real as yours – I believe it is in fact the same – and we fail just as any man or woman does. We live life attempting to understand more, and trying to be a better person today than we were yesterday. We all shortchange ourselves by trying to define where we are or where we are going – we should find peace in the motion of life, in the stillness of life, in the search of God (not for).

So how are God and I? I almost decided not to write this thought process, as I’m not sure you actually mean it when you ask. It’s easier for people to see us as people who simply continue to believe God is good despite all we’ve been through, and write our whole story off as a sad and inspiring story of faith without question. It would be unfair to you for me to say I don’t struggle with the outcome of this past 14 months. I come from a background where I’ve seen miracles happen, and I have a strong foundation of knowing God is real. So how do I reconcile that with losing two sons? How do I explain the tens of thousands, perhaps millions of prayers which were directed toward God asking for healing in Ezra and Price, and then losing them? Is there such a thing as the Christian cliche of a “hedge of protection” (which comes from Job 1:10)? Is nothing promised aside from Heaven?

Some of you will be disappointed or offended that we question these things. You’d be surprised just how many people are ready to tell us how to feel and think. But some of you need to hear it. Need to hear it’s ok to question. I heard a quote once which said something like “if you’ve never struggled with your faith, I doubt you have any.” I’ve heard it called foolishness – this faith, this belief in who God is despite the inability to answer the questions of “why” we all have. Why did Abraham get to keep Isaac in Genesis 22, and I didn’t get to keep my own children? We all have these questions – my childhood best friend’s dad died after 3 years of living in a coma. Robyn’s dad died of cancer when she was 9. How many died in Haiti? Ezra, Price… Layla Grace… we all have a story (at varying levels of personal involvement) of tragedy which we have trouble reconciling with who God is. And yet, I have felt Him. I have seen God move, and continue to believe He is real, and is in fact who the Bible says He is.

The problem we have is this picture of God as Santa Claus. This creeping, far-reaching, poison philosophy that an insistence on God, a life dedicated to a continual focus on Him, means nothing more than a free ride to Heaven and a sense of superiority in our “right” decision. Blessings and safety in everything we do. We’ve turned God into a seminar on sociology. We go to church to learn how to be a better citizen, rather than to be challenged to have the mindset of Christ. We define our views of people based on how they fit in our checklist of what a “good” person is, instead of realizing Jesus would probably much rather be hanging out with the ones we write off. We feel good that we’re being good, and pat ourselves on the back for filling the parking lot once a week to watch the lights and hear the band. We tell each other how challenging the “word” was, and we ignore the injustices of the world another week and show back up next weekend. Tony Campolo put it interestingly. He stated a fact – 30,000 kids die daily from malnutrition. Then he cursed from the pulpit, followed by saying what’s worse was more people were bothered by the curse word than the 30,000 kids. I’m not advocating swearing from the pulpit in referencing that – I’m trying to illuminate this false priority we put on fitting a checklist of don’ts over living like Christ and bringing relief to the hurting in our lives.

Let me beg you to go read Isaiah 1:13-17 and Acts 2. I feel just as guilty as anyone – but if you ask me what I’ve got through this thing we’ve been through, one sure takeaway is to call a spade a spade. To ignore this mandate to be societally correct, and instead to live like I believe. Can we all please stop picturing a church, and be the church? Jesus’ disciples were mostly people we would be uncomfortable with on the staff of a modern church – look up their histories. JESUS would probably be laughed out of most board meetings.

Anyway… so I guess we’re “alright.” Charley continues to do awesomely. The Because of Ezra foundation is shaping up to do some awesome stuff. My business is growing a ton this year and I enjoy putting time into it. Weather is good, and many of our friends are starting 2011 with good new ventures that are doing well. I am always excited to see people doing well. There’s pings of jealousy when I see a healthy family in the park, as I’m sure you get when you see success in any areas you’re struggling in – but I work to be disciplined in “capturing these thoughts” like 2 Cor 10 says and always be excited for the good in people’s lives, as I am for the good in my own. You know – it’s good to be healthy (not just physically, I mean spiritually, maritally, financially, etc). Be glad when you see it in folks’ lives. Jealousy is worthless.

Until next time…

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  1. Kyle… well said! Glad your business is doing great and also Ezra’s foundation! Glad Charley is doing great also! Keep doing what your doing and believing, it’s making you the great person that you are.

  2. Well, about seeing happy healthy families in the park, they never had Ezra. They might have AN Ezra. But they never had THE EZRA! But you mustn’t ever brag that your Ezra is daily playing with a King! No no, that wouldn’t be nice!

  3. You are always inspiring to me and your words often touch me deeply. Your faith is MUCH stronger than mine although I have been making bigger efforts to keep the faith.
    You see I felt your pain very deeply and it hurt so bad for me over your and Robyn’s loss’s of your children, I have so many questions of “WHY” on the constant. I work for Children’s Protective Services and know things that I wish I didn’t know. The things that happen to children every single day rip my insides out and a lot of times I don’t know how to deal with my emotions and feelings over things that are far out of my control. Just like cancer…..
    and it hurts and all I can do is pray (for the children of this world and myself), but I’ll never understand fully.
    I try to think of the saying that if we as people never know tragedy we would never truly know joy. I like what you said at the end that jealousy is worthless – and truer words were never spoken. There is a lady at work that is so very jealous of me and is very hateful towards me – it hurts. She claims to be so Christian and Godly and it is very hard for me to entertain the thought of her truly thinking she is so Godly perfect with the exception of me. I try to be the bigger/better person and at times it is very hard for me – but i still try. Anyways sorry for telling you all my problems….I just hope that you and Robyn know that my heart has been there with you and still is. My love for your sons is an awesome love that will be with me until the day it is my turn to go to Heaven.
    I hope with all my might to be able to donate to Because of Ezra soon – times have been very tough.
    I love Charley and love hearing any little bit of an update on him – I cling to the happiness that enters all of our lives!!! Children are so important……
    With all my heart,

  4. Thank you for once again being real. I’m learning how to deal with all the emotions in my own life – and sometimes don’t know how to answer when people ask how we are – when the answer is “I’m ok, and not ok. Does that make sense?” Your blog is an encouragement to lay down the forced smile and be real with the enormous grief in your lives. It helps everyone who reads it do the same. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Not a day goes by that I don’t whisper a prayer for you and Robyn.

  5. You pulled my heartstring. Grief hit me last April with my brother suddenly passed away, then Ezra and the brother in church murdered. Shook my faith some. You are encouraging. Brother/sister helping each other!

  6. Eloquently put! Your transparency and “realness” (?is that a word) is what I continually find inspiring…as for the comment about writing a book…I am sure you could; and if it is God’s will,I think you should…as a hospice nurse I know that there is no “correct” way to grieve…it is as individual a journey as each and every life. And I think that the ultimate goal of this journey of life should be to become more like Christ, and to become passionate and not numb to the injustices all around us. It is only through the passion and sometimes the pain that we are called to action and stir others to do the same. May you both continue to be comforted and strengthened moment by moment….God Bless and “thanks” for continuing to share…

  7. Kyle, you are an amazing person. I have often wondered- while reading your posts how you are feeling and knowing you are a Christian, just as I am, do you struggle with God’s purpose. I have never experienced the loss you have, but I too question God’s reason and being. You inspire so many.

  8. Kyle,

    I loved the old song by 4Him entitled “Why?” which reminded me that it was okay to question why, that God could handle it.

    Another old guy in music, Michael Card, sang the words “could it be that the questions tell us more than answers ever do…”

    I guess I am just saying, I hear ya brother loud and clear and that you are not alone in asking the tough questions.

    I often find myself singing, “Hold me Jesus, cause I’m shaking like a leaf. You have been my King of Glory won’t you be my Prince of Peace…”

    You remain in my prayers.

  9. Image. Perception. Reality?
    It is “funny” to me how what people “see” is all they see. I guess the emotional side of people want to see “good”. From the outside looking in I think most people, couples, families “appear” to be happy, healthy, and prefect. Like the ones you are speaking of seeing in the park. Your wonderful family may have looked the same to outsiders at times, even during your long and heart wrenching battles…never knowing what your family was actually dealing with and going through. Most people assume that what they see is reality. Image…Perception, it can be so deceiving. I think that it is easier to believe that everything is good rather than trying to understand what is truly going on around us and then trying to help fix it. Maybe that way people can live with the idea you were saying about picturing a church, and that way people don’t have to worry about trying to be the church?

    There is also “the grass is greener on the other side” Theory… Only the people on the other side know how green their grass really is…

    Sorry ~ These Confusing little thoughts came to me after reading your post today 🙂 We have struggled with our own pain and loss as I have shared with you and Robyn before and it never goes away. I think it fueled these thoughts… We are also in the beginning of our own cancer journey with my father-in-law. He was dianosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer 4 days before Christmas…more fuel…

    Loss is terrible and being real and raw is o.k. Don’t ever sell yourself or your faith short.
    I also very much agree with you on how greiving is so differant for everyone and I am glad that you and Robyn have each other, your wonderful family, and true friends to help you through your pain.
    I am also so very happy that Because of Ezra is starting to take off. We are here to help again, let me know if you do another auction or fundraiser!

    Praying still for You, Robyn, Charley and Your Angels in Heaven!
    Blessings ~ Jenn Amerson

  10. Sometimes its quite difficult for Christians to be real, or anyone for that matter…too much fear, I think. Anyhow, thank you for being real and for not masking it. Being real shows others that its okay to be real and that we are all more alike than we realize. I still think of and pray for your family often.

  11. I need to stop thinking I can comment as prolifically as you post. Thanks for the reality. It’s all so true, and unfortunately so hard to find people who do it. We have to be the ones to start. We’re on our knees. Start with us, Lord.

  12. Kyle, what an awesome post today! and what a powerful challenge! you are so right and I pray that all of us will take your message to heart. I am so proud of you and Robyn and the impact you are making! I know that Ezra and Price also must be so proud. I want to thank you with all my heart for always being so honest when you are sharing your heart and your feelings… It really is powerful and helps all of us to do a heart check. I am so thankful.

  13. You know what ? everytime i read your post it gives me a chance to actually find out who I am and what i am doing in this world in my life with my family with my bretheren (its wierd to use that word),, do i make a difference do i pray for people enough do i help enough stranded homeless broken people am i one of the ones who get my satisfaction from going to church? you are so challenging, i often feel selfish for feeling sorry for myself or thinking my life is too hard, i see my brother and sister (you and robyn) go through so much more and it teaches me it helps me grow, it challenges me,, to become who God wants me to be who you see us to be,, i thank you with my heart for sharing you, so we can understand “HIM” better,, he works in you and robyn so forcefully!! I thank you for letting him, still praying and always will be

  14. Powerful and thought provoking. Thank you. You are blessed with the gift of the written word. Keep penning this journey, you are changing lives. As you stated I’m not sure you will ever find the answers to satisfy your questions as to WHY. I pray you find peace and acceptance. You can be assured that Ezra and Price are so proud and thankful to Jesus for the parents they were blessed with while on Earth.

  15. Day by day, ups and downs, confusion and clarity, happiness and jealousy, unanswered questions and answers that don’t make much sense, peace and struggle… all part of this crazy roller coaster ride we call “life.” God has harnessed you in.

    Your purpose is in the truth you speak….keep speaking it.

  16. You continue to amaze me with your open heart. I would be disappointed if you didn’t have questions. Jesus is so big there is no way we can understand or even want to understand. Thank you again for your honesty. Your always in my prayers and thoughts.

  17. You leave me pondering more about life than ever & it’s 1:43am after a 13hr work day! Can’t shut my brain off now! Your blogs just keep getting better! Bless you & your family thank you for your insight!

  18. Thank you Kyle for speaking your heart. If people were offended or upset by anything you said then they are the ones who need to stop and take a good look at their own lives. You are ‘real’ and you don’t pretend to be something you’re not. I think that is one thing that kept me coming back to your blog in the beginning – yes I wanted the updates very much – but the way you speak through your blog is compelling and you continue to challenge me.

    I know that I don’t personally know you or your family but I have felt your pain and loss – although certainly not to the degree that you have; that would not be possible. I keep your family close to my heart, my thoughts and in my prayers. I would love to meet you some day.

    I remember hearing Tony Campolo say and do exactly what you mentioned in your blog. And it hit a chord with me when I heard it a number of years ago and I thank you for your reminder of that today. He is a man who also tells it like it is and I am thankful to have had the privilege to hear him speak in person.

    I look forward to following what is happening with Because of Ezra and hopefully seeing photos of Charley as he grows and hearing your stories about his adventures in life.

    Thank you for ‘telling it like it is’ and I am happy to hear that you are doing all the things you are doing – including the ‘whys’. You are very right – it is YOUR blog so you can say anything you want to say.

    I agree with others who have said this: You do need to write a book! I would certainly buy it. God has given you a gift of words; use it to bring further glory to Him while you share your/Ezra’s/Price’s story.

    I will continue to watch this site for updates.

    Know that you all are loved.

    Sending hugs for each of you,
    Heather Oliver
    Windsor, ON

  19. WOW! I love how real you are and I believe that you will be called to write a book someday. I have two friends who are severly depressed right now and want to give up… I am going to forward this on to them because you put it so beautifully and perfectly. I still pray for you, Robin & Charley. I watch you sing with awesome emotion and an incredible voice at church… I usually start to cry cuz I’m so moved by the Holy Spirit… I feel like I know you but still haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you, Robyn & Charley but I know that in God’s timing we might meet someday. There is a reason I read your blogs and hopefully it will touch the two ladies who want to give up and are asking the Why? question. Thanks, Erin

  20. As always I show respect to your wise words. And I admire the courage towards your honesty and sincerity. I declare myself a Christian, and I struggle and I question …but sometimes I am not honest enough or brave enough to admit that I have sadness or doubts. Mr. & Mrs. Matthews, Probably you do not remember me, or maybe you just remember me as a staff member you saw taking care of Ezra from time to time…Truth is I am also a mother that have questioned for 13 years why my son is extremely handicap, I have prayed for 13 years begging for some healing, for miracles. Other than my personal struggles I wonder why all “my” kids at the hospital have to go thru the things they go thru…and their families….But If I am honest enough to admit all my fears, then I become vulnerable to criticism and judgment from those who expect more from me… (sigh)…All I want to say is that your writing has just made my day…today I feel brave…My admiration and respects…Yaritza

  21. Kyle, God is SO speaking through you and your situation right now, whether you realize it or not. These past few weeks, I too have been convicted about the Christianity I profess to have through books like ‘Radical’ (Platt) and ‘Crazy Love’ (Chan) and now your blog!!!!! We Christians NEED to get out of the rule and regulation and life-improvement view of Christianity and start living and loving the way Christ and the early Christians set the example for us to live. I’m working on it. Thanks so much for that!

  22. Kyle, your words are so inspiring! I thank God for your bold honesty and sincerity….. It is good to know that, even though our struggles are different, we would have to question our Faith if we didn’t wrestle with doubt.

    We have been led to believe that questioning or doubting “who God is” is a sign of a faithless life, that only non believers should struggle with!

    I sure do appreciate your words and your courage to write them down. May God brings peace to you and Robyn as you continue searching for answers.

    With much love and appreciation,


  23. If only everyone were so forthright and honest about the realities we walk through on this side of heaven this world would be a better place. In my youth my faith was often crippled by the misleading theology that God Is some cosmic Santa Claus. Walking with God into and through adulthood has blessed me with the truth. I don’t have answers for the pain and suffering any of us endures but let’s all hold each other up and look forward to a better day ahead. Kyle, you don’t know me but I still pray for your family often and will continue to.

  24. You are always so inspiring to me. You have gone thought so much and yet, have a positive outlook on life. You appreciate what you do have. I hope to become more like you. And, yes, you should write a book. I’d be first in line to read it 🙂

  25. God bless you and comfort you for blessed are those that are comforted. After the loss of a daughter, God spoke to the mother that was angry with God, asking why! God said if I told you why, you would still ask me why. His ways are higher than our ways and we will understand it all when we get to the other side and have the mind of Christ. Sorry for your loss and again God Bless

  26. Wow, wonderfully written. Love to hear how deep your faith is, you guys are touching so many lives through your hardships and how you have/are dealing with them. I hope God continues to provide comfort to you and your family, I think of you guys often and know that God has really big plans for you and your family.

  27. Thank you for sharing Kyle. I think about your family everyday, and I DO really wonder ‘how you are’, and not just in asking the question for a simple answer. Thank you for being so real. You are so inspiring, especially to those who are also struggling. God has made a teacher out of you. May we all be able to learn from your lessons and stories. We think about Ezra and Price everyday, my little boy continues to pray for ‘Ezra and his mommy and daddy and little brother’ every night. Please keep sharing, and please keep letting us know how to be there for you guys and how to help. YAY for ‘Because of Ezra’!! 🙂 Keep up the good work and tenacity!

  28. Beautifully stated. Your words will stay with me as I lay my head to rest tonight and thank the lord above for the life I have been given and for those I share it with. Bless you and your family. Glad to hear you all are alright in a world where that is often questioned. Peaceful dreams.

  29. Bret and I look forward to a visit with you and Robyn when you come out this way. Thank you for writing so truthfully and challangeing us in our walk with Christ.