New Normal

Since Lori passed away, the kids and I have spent a lot of time at the house trying to find a new normal.  I’ve decided that for a long term care plan, I’ll use a preschool near my house that comes highly recommended.  Claire will attend full days of school at the elementary school, JM will go half day to kindergarten and half day to the preschool, and Jude will go full days to preschool.  However, they won’t begin that routine until school starts next August.  For the short-term (summer), I’m having family/friends “sponsor” weeks of childcare while I work.  The calendar only has a couple of holes in it proceeding all the way through the summer into next fall.  I intend to take my leave to coincide with the school system’s holidays so I can have that time with the kids, and they won’t have to do year-round preschool/daycare.  I’ll also have family and friends help cover summer/winter breaks for subsequent years.  Beyond that, who knows!

I’m planning to take Claire with me along with a few other couples on a trip to Ireland & Scotland this June, and we’re excited about that.  It’s a unique opportunity for her to get some international travel exposure at such a young age, and I’m thrilled to do this with her.  I plan to take a similar kind of trip each year.  The boys aren’t old enough yet for international trips like that, but we’ll have some good times state-side!

We’re doing well overall.  The kids are happy just like before most of the time.  The boys are too young to stay focused on anything for a long period of time, and sadness and grief are no exceptions, so that makes it easier for me.  Claire is old enough to focus on her loss, and she does occasionally, but overall she is hanging in just fine.  I’m doing well too.  I think it’s easier to have known this was coming because I was prepared.  For me, I could see my mourning stretching out over a long period of time.  The more of life’s moments I experience without Lori, the more I expect it will hurt.  I’m thinking that the cumulative effect of those events as they occur will be hard to deal with.  So far, not much has happened.  Otherwise, I’m optimistic and very much looking forward to life the same way I was before.

I haven’t finished writing thank-you cards, but I do want everyone to know how grateful I am for the support.  People have provided more meals than we can eat or store.  My laundry was done by a friend for a month!  College friends who are now parents of three homeschoolers are finishing Claire’s homeschool teaching for the semester, and the homeschool group picks up,drops off, and feeds all three kids every Tuesday for CC.  Others volunteered to take the kids for play dates to free up mornings so I could take care of paperwork and life coordination.  Notes of encouragement and condolences still arrive in the mail each day.

Also, the deadline for writing letters for the memory book being created by Mary Beth and Ashley has been extended until the beginning of April.  So, if you have something you’d like to share, please send it in.  That will really be a cool thing when it’s done!  For what it’s worth, with permission from those who submit, I’ll try to share some of those stories on this website after the book is finished.  In case you don’t know what that’s about, here’s a reminder of what Ashley posted here previously:

From Ashley:

Lori’s life has impacted so many people on so many levels. We heard many stories from family and friends at her memorial service. I know there are many more of us who want to share what Lori meant to us. Marybeth Young and I (Ashley Crew) want to put together a book of YOUR STORIES ABOUT LORI to share with Mark and the kids.

We are looking for any words you have on how you or others have been impacted or inspired by Lori and her incredible faith in and friendship with Jesus Christ.

You can make it as short or long as you would like. It doesn’t have to be grammatically correct… It’s your story so put it any way you want. If you feel that your story is too personal please state at the top of the email “Anonymous” as we may make this available for everyone with Mark’s approval.

Please pass this on to anyone who has been affected by Lori’s journey through you or the sites.

You can email YOUR story to: thisideallife4him@gmail.com


  1. Rebecca Steffens

    March 16, 2016 at 9:48 PM

    Mark, my husband and I are praying for you and the kids. We grieve for you. Thank you for your continued reliance upon God’s goodness. You are providing a wonderful example for others to follow. My heart breaks for Claire. I am praying or her specifically. Thank you for sharing so that we know how to pray.

  2. Mark, as always, thank you for the update! I’ve admired you and Lori’s planning and preparation from day one and you just keep on..! We are praying you through this! I’m looking forward to seeing the kids over the summer. Wish I were closer but I am always here for when you and the kids are in town or Doug and Carol have them. I’ve so enjoyed my brief texts and face times with little Claire! Excited for the trip you two get to take together. All my love ❤️

  3. We love you, Jones Family.

  4. You continue to inspire us all Mark. Prayers continue for your & the kids hearts .
    You will be sad, but your sadness will become joy. John 16:20

    Love you bunches.

  5. It is so good to hear an update. We continue to pray.

  6. I added your family to my calendar with reminders to pray just as Lori did for so many others. Inspired by the strength and wisdom God has given you to continue leading your family and navigating difficult emotions and conversations with sweet Claire. Thank you for being so open with everyone so we can can help and you are not alone in your emotions. Can you post the calendar or dates with holes in it, we would love to help!

  7. John & Paulette Colson

    March 17, 2016 at 6:15 AM

    Dearest Mark,your strength and courage is so admirable. Just as Lori was and will continue to be your example of trusting Jesus is remarkable. Thank you for the love you showed our niece and the love and devotion you have for your children. Adjusting to not having your best friend by your side has to be so hard, but then again with three small ones I’m sure your “me” time is limited. Your plans and future adventures sound perfect. John and I will keep you all in our prayers. Please let us know when you are in town, hopefully we can have the all the family over for swimming, fishing and a cookout. With our love and prayers. Uncle John and Aunt Paulette

  8. Thanks so much for the update Mark. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! ?
    Love you friend ?

  9. Harry Cornish

    May 7, 2016 at 2:33 AM

    I thought about you and just wanted to drop by to see how you are doing. Finding a “new normal” is accurate, but the blessings of having kids is that you have a reason to get up each morning, a reason to live each day. You sound as if you are doing okay and it’s great that you are surrounded by friends and family. Lean on them. I pray that the Lord bless them as they bless you.

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