I have been composing a letter to you in my head throughout the year and planned to mail it before Christmas. Little did I know you wouldn't be here to read it. I can't possibly begin the New Year with this letter unfinished, so here it is.
Someone asked me recently what year stood out above all others for Blue Monarch? That's easy. It's 2016. And that's because of you and Jacque.
I now keep a photograph of your beautiful wife on my desk. It's not the best one I have of her, but it is a huge reminder that you just never know when an ordinary moment may turn into an extraordinary one.
You see, this picture of Jacque was taken when she first visited Blue Monarch in 2010. She came with a group of church folks at the invitation of her bowling buddy, Pat. On that day, I'm sure I probably told the story of how Blue Monarch got started, described what we do to help mothers and their precious children recover from some pretty deep emotional wounds, and we might have asked one of our residents to share her personal story. This routine we do quite often. But something Jacque heard that day must have made quite an impression on her. Little did I know this moment would dramatically affect our world six years later.
I also didn't realize when I received your unexpected email back in February, that by November we would mark a huge item off my bucket list and open four incredible cottages for our graduates, which would bear the names of your wife and four children - and immediately increase our population by a whopping 33%!
This year has been full of unexpected surprises. But your passing was not a good surprise and although I thanked you many times, I wish I thanked you more when I had the chance.
Thank you for sharing your wife's passion for Blue Monarch. I can't describe what it means for others to believe in our mission as we do, enough to invest their treasured resources. Every gift, no matter how large or how small, means the world to us. That's one of the reasons I love to get the mail out of the box myself - so I can cherish each one as it arrives.
I never told you this, but I found it amusing that you and Jacque frequently told me the same thing when the other was not around. She would tell me that although she loved Blue Monarch, it was you who felt most passionately about it. And then you would tell me the exact same thing about her. I'm grateful you both cared about our mission so much.
|Lynn, Robert, Susan, Bob, Kent and Beth|
Even though you and Jacque discussed your tremendous plan before her death, you made it clear that you wanted to involve your four children in this gesture and the gift would actually come from them. Thank you for passing your passion for Blue Monarch along to "The Sibs". I am so grateful for their commitment to provide a beautiful place for our graduates to transition into the outside world. And I also appreciate their vision for our cottages to be so unique they would serve as motivation for our residents to succeed. The cottages are absolutely amazing, inside and out. I've always said, "why do something ordinary when it can be extraordinary?" Thankfully, your children - Kent, Lynn, Robert, and Beth - feel the same way!
Bob, your wife was an exceptional woman - no doubt, you know that. I can't describe how much it meant for you to trust me with her memorial service we held in June along with the groundbreaking. As I searched through hundreds of photographs I gradually gained a clearer picture of the remarkable life she lived with you, the strong values she instilled in your children, and why all of you wanted to honor her memory in such a special way. Yes, she was an extraordinary mother - and now she's allowing others to become one.
There were several times you mentioned you were worried you might not live to see our WINGS Community completed, which always troubled me. Other than the fact you were turning 89 in July, I didn't really understand your sense of urgency. However, this was a determining factor as I interviewed potential builders. If they couldn't begin right away, they were quickly voted off the island. (Wasn't that one of Jacque's favorite shows?)
I think God dropped the perfect builder right in front of us for a reason. The project went supernaturally fast! "What?! You need paint colors already?" My word, we got four houses built in three and a half months. Who does that?
But now we know why this project took on a life of its own. I believe God wanted you to see the M. Jacqueline Peters WINGS Community finished before he called you home. And only he knew that you would pass away just eleven days after you came to the Dedication Celebration, where you so tenderly handed keys to the first families moving in. Little did we know...
What a legacy, Bob. It's only been a little over a month since our first families moved into the beautiful cottages and already I'm seeing the enormous impact in so many areas of their lives. Just imagine how that influence will grow in the many years to come. I hope you're proud and feel the magnitude of a life well lived.
I love this picture of you leaving our Dedication to return to New Hampshire. You look pleased, as I hope you were - and I love the fact you are still wearing your Blue Monarch name tag. Yet another ordinary - yet enormously significant - moment that will live on my desk from now on, alongside Jacque's.
Bob, as this incredible year comes to an end, it's tempting to worry that we will never, ever have another year like this one. After all, it was pretty unbelievable. Not only did we enjoy this dream-come-true, insanely fun project, but our many supporters enthusiastically rallied around this venture and embraced it with us. It was truly glorious.
However, you and Jacque have reminded me of something I must never forget: It's important to treat even the most ordinary moments as if they have the potential to become extraordinary ones. After all, little do we know...God may be using those commonplace moments and the people around us to do huge and powerful things one day - just like he so beautifully did through the two of you.
With much love and gratitude,
Lord, may we always be grateful for the ordinary moments that weave the tapestry of this extraordinary journey with you. We ask for your abundant blessings in 2017 so we may best serve the courageous women and precious children who come to us seeking your help.
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" - 1 Corinthians 2:9
Click here to see the aerial documentation of the construction by Joe Marler of Dynamic Images: