Beautiful Story


I have a beautiful story to share from my life about loss, redemption, and the expansive love of God.


I have been in a season of great loss.

Today marks 1537 days since Brenda was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, and 949 since she passed through. Brenda prepared us well as a family for her death, yet we have learned much since then. Together we have learned:

  • That grief does not necessarily get easier as time passes.
  • Embracing the full reality of the death cannot, and should not, occur quickly.
  • Some days the full depth of your loss will hit you.
  • Your personal faith as a Christian can have a tremendous impact on your journey with grief.
  • Even if you have faith in God, you still need to mourn.
  • With hurt comes healing.

Mourning is the outward expression of your many thoughts and feelings regarding the person who has died. In my case, this was Brenda, my wife, soulmate, best friend, and companion of thirty-nine years. I have been mourning and am not finished yet, nor feel compelled to hurry it along.

As follower of Jesus for many years and a leader amongst pastors and ministry people, I knew that I had a substantial foundation on which to stand for this next season of my life. Yet despite all this, I so longed for companionship. Most days I had come to believe that I would spend the rest of my life alone despite Brenda making it clear before she died that she wished for me to remarry.


In October, I sat in a quaint restaurant in a heritage home in Blowing Rock, North Carolina with my friends J John and Killy from the UK. They knew and loved Brenda deeply, but at that lunch felt called to pray over me regarding my desire for companionship. I had a similar response from my friends Rich and Debbie in Charlotte on the same trip.

On my return from North Carolina, I was speaking for a Young Adult conference that was held at Barnabas on Keats Island. This is a very special place for our family and has been for years. Arrow Leadership uses it as one of its prime locations for classes, and I have been going there for years.

barnabasBrenda and I prayed for the vision of Barnabas before it existed at this location, and I have been friends with Rob and Kathy Bentall, the founders, for decades. It is a ‘thin place’ – a place that is sacred; where healing, teaching and inspiration take place year-round. After Brenda’s death we decided as a family to support Barnabas by sponsoring one of the bedrooms in The Station, a new marquee building being built for teaching, dining, administration and some new bedroom accommodation. Though Brenda had travelled the world, she was quick to tell anyone that Barnabas was her favourite place on the planet. It seemed so right to us all that this would be a place of memorial for her.

KeatsLandingAt the end of the Young Adult Retreat I was transported to the Government Wharf with all the guests to make our boat ride back to the mainland off this beautiful island. At the top of the ramp I paused to give a hug to Rob and Kathy, and then to Rob’s sister, Ruth, who had facilitated the retreat.

When I hugged Ruth, I felt an electrical shock surge through my shoulders and back that made me step back.

“What just happened?” I thought to myself while trying to remain calm in front of all the people.

I’ve known Ruth for decades. We have done ministry side by side at Barnabas conferences, and consider her a friend, although we do not see each other all that often. All of my sons have worked for Ruth in their younger years at Barnabas.

When my boat started to leave, I kept wondering “What just happened?”. This did not go away and finally I got up the courage to text message Ruth. I wanted to give myself lots of wiggle room so I asked her, “What just happened?”

Ruth replied, “I don’t know, but something happened! We should talk about it.”

Well, talk we did a week later, and we have been seeing each other and talking ever since. We spent time with our children seeking discernment. We sought wisdom of counsellors with expertise in second marriages. I went for a separate session to do a check on where I was at in my grief journey, to see if I was ready for a new relationship. I spoke to my closest friends about us when I realized that I was in love with Ruth, and she with me. As our counsellor said to us, there are no red flags, and we were both in a place of readiness for remarriage.

You have not heard much from me over the past months. It is because we intentionally have been quiet about our seeing one another. We needed the time and opportunity to know one another better without the pressures of our relationship circles – which are vast. Ruth and I have come to this new relationship out of deep loss. You are tender and cautious when you are in that space. Neither of us could have imagined this beautiful new relationship. God has been in the background orchestrating every detail. We are without words.


I spent time with my sons talking this all over. Ruth wisely reminded me that I was grieving the loss of Brenda, my wife, but my sons were grieving their mother and that was different. At one point one of my Sons asked a question about how all of this works. “How can you love Mom, and love Ruth?”

“Well,” I answered, “Remember when you first got married and how you thought love doesn’t get any better than this?”

“Yes” he acknowledged.

“Then Landon was born, your first son. Do you remember that moment when you first held him, and your love circle grew in capacity exponentially to include your baby?”

“Yeah I remember.”

“And then when you think that you simply could not love anymore, along comes your second son Liam and, oh my, the love expansion he brought to your life. You get the picture, it is one of an expansive love. I’m not sure exactly how this all works but I feel like God has given me that expansive kind of love for Ruth – while I still love your Mom. Your Mom will always be my first love.”

That was the best I could do at the time because I am still learning. When we love God, we’ll love others, because that’s the way real love works.  We’ll tell others of His love for them, because His love wants to draw others into that love.  We’ll delight in drawing others into our love, expanding our capacity, because that’s the way my God is, and His love working in us will affect us that way, too.

Well, in the spirit of this expansive love of God, and with the support of our families, and dear Brenda’s family, I knelt on one knee and asked Ruth if she would marry me. She said yes and we are planning to be married the end of June in a small intimate family wedding, on a small island in the Pacific. We look forward to leaning into how God is going to use our companionship and love, to further His ministry through us.





56 thoughts on “Beautiful Story

  1. Hey, Carson. I served at IFL for 12 years (been on my own now since 2017), and Roger Kemp mentioned you to me this week. Anyway, my heart has really been touched by your current situation, and I’m asking the Lord for His grace in your and Ruth’s time together. Truly, truly praying for you, brother. Thanks.

  2. Dear Carson, this is beautiful. We don’t know what will happen next in the story but thank you for sharing this. I’m back in Canada and I had been pleasantly surprised when I heard of yours and Ruth’s plans. Just want you to know you are in another person’s thoughts and prayer. We don’t always understand why things happen as they do but God, who holds our lives in his hands, does and I imagine you’re the best person to be standing with Ruth and family just now. “The generous soul will be made rich. And he who waters will also be watered himself.” Proverbs 11:25

  3. Oh my— a beautiful story indeed. Many blessings and much happiness to you. I bet the “small island in the Pacific” is Keats — a spectacular and wonderful place 🙂 Barbara PS I have my ow “love story” Married a wonderful Christian man, Lewis Vasey Jan 2/16— and we are living happily ever after.


  4. OH MY GOODNESS!!!I am sooo happy for you Carson! It’s been a crazy life for me of late and it has literally taken me 3 days to finish reading your post, so here I sit at my desk with teary eyes, and a heart bursting for the love you have found. God has indeed blessed you & Ruth. What a lucky lady! Best of wishes for a beautiful new beginning. Second loves are different from firsts, but ever so fulfilling with a freedom & joy & depth of love that at this stage in life is very lovely indeed.Love,George

    1. Oh my dear George, I’ve actually thought of you often. It is indeed a very different new beginning. I’ve been surprised at how much freedom joy in depth there is. It is also wonderful to go into a marriage not being naïve! The other surprise is how often we feel like were teenagers with this renewed energy towards a future ❤️

  5. Ahhh Carson – such good news and such a wonderful testimony to our Father’s grace and mercy and expansive love!!! Laurie and I are cheering from the sidelines. Please let us know when you bring Ruth to Toronto – would love to hug you both!

    1. Thank you so much Jane. We’re actually planning to come and hold a reception in Toronto after we are married. We will be sure to have you on the invite list.

  6. Carson.
    Congratulations, I’m so happy for you and Ruth. Your a wonderful man who has raised 3 amazing young men, and now grandchildren. I wish you all the happiness in your new journey with Ruth. With out doubt, this will be a blessed union, and likely will help the healing for you all. Ruth must be an amazing woman, to capture your very very large heart. Congratulations.

  7. Yes, my dear, it is a lovely story. May the Lord give you both a good life together in His service. Love, Mom

    Sent from my iPad


  8. Congratulations! This is a beautiful story and as I read it I can sense the smile of joy on Brenda’s face knowing of your joy in this new season.

  9. Dear CARSON,

    Thank you for sharing this special news of God’s provision for you and Ruth! May God continue to lead you as you share life and serve the Master together!

    In His Love,

    Jan Porcino

  10. Thank you for welcoming us into your beautiful story! Blessings on you both and your communities as you boldly step even more deeply into the deep deep love of God. May you know tremendous joy, and scatter seeds of grace and mercy, love and truth!

  11. Congratulations to you both – you deserve all the love and joy that God has in store for you. One of these days we’ll catch up with you! With love from us both – Rebecca and Tim

  12. Congratulations Carson! You both are wise in how you journeyed this new space. Can’t wait to see how your love for each other create new footprints and fill the longings of your heart! ❤️ Praying for you both and your families! Hugs – Hasnah

  13. Carson, I’m filled with emotion, as this is actually the first I’m hearing of Brenda’s death. Both of you were such an instrumental part of a very pivotal part of my leadership development. I’m of course sorry for your loss, but also warmed and comforted by how God is demonstrating his faithfulness, kindess and lovr to you. Congratulations on your engagement and blessings to you, Ruth and the rest of your family!

  14. Dear Carson, Thank you for sharing. It is indeed a “beautiful story”. I’m so pleased for you.

    May our Lord bless you, Ruth and your marriage in ways that you can’t even yet imagine.


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  15. Carson, we celebrate with you the joy of God’s expansive love, redeeming our losses, restoring our souls. God bless you and Ruth!

  16. Carson only having spent a few days in your company at our own daughters wedding I have so loved reading and following you on this journey .in my reading this came up so I will share Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (proverbs16:24 ) congratulations every blessing

  17. You know how happy we are for you both! We are really looking forward to meeting Ruth! June will fly in!! So exciting 😘

  18. Carson, this is a wonderful story in so many ways. We we are am delighted for you. I have plans for a trip to BC in late July (maybe I will make it on this third attempt!) and would love to see you both.

  19. This has made my day – what’s not to Love about Love ?
    Carson, this is just a perfect description of an expanding capacity to Love.
    Sending our Love & Congratulations from the Edwards in Perth, Western Australia.

    1. Thank you so much Jacky. I really hope we have the opportunity to come to Australia together. I would love for her to meet all my friends there especially in Perth. 😊

  20. Wow! For many months now, Carson, I have felt nudges to pray that you would not be alone anymore. I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to pray for a new partner for you yet, but obviously this is the answer to my prayers. I love the “expansive love”.

  21. Carson, I sincerely look forward to meeting Ruth. I’ve been in prayer for both of you. May God richly bless you with His Peace and Joy as the days, months and years ahead unfold.
    Love to you both,

  22. Congrats Carson & Ruth. So thrilled to read this news. Knowing both of you Charity and I are thrilled to see God’s hand in leading you two together. Many blessings on both of you in the years ahead.

  23. Carson, this is wonderful news! I am so happy for both you and Ruth. I have thought many times and hoped that you would find another special person to share your life with. I’m sure Brenda would be so pleased and happy for you, and to know of Ruth’s connection to Barbara’s. How special! I wish you both much happiness! Martha Vandeventer

  24. Thank you for sharing this next chapter in your life Carson. Joyce and I pray blessings to abound on you and Ruth as you grow in your love for one another and become husband and wife. Love never fails!

  25. Congratulations Carson and Ruth. Linda and I are happy for you all the way from Naples!!

  26. I’m very happy for you, Carson! May God bless you and Ruth with many years of joy together! Edna

    Sent from my iPhone


  27. Hi Carson,

    I remember when you were a leader in Barnabus and we went to the Baptist Convention in Hamilton and when my were my youth leader in Brandon. When we had a crush on somebody you sometimes used the term “moonmunged” I think you are that. Congrats to you from an ex brandonite

  28. Carson and Ruth, congratulations on a beautiful journey! I do vividly remember my sister falling in love again after her first husband passed away so early, and tragically. Yes, I can see God giving you both a wonderful love and joy for one another, and sharing your families and your history going forward. My love to you both, Gretchen 🎉😎

  29. Carson, my dear friend in Christ, I have been brought to tears by your heartwarming expression of both grief and love! We serve such a wonderful God! God is good. Deb and I are very happy for both you and Ruth. May God bless you both as you begin a new chapter in your life. I am sure that Brenda is looking down upon you both with a smile and a heart filled with love and joy for you. Much Love, John Nelson

  30. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! So very pleased for you both


    ****** Apologies for typos and brevity. Sent from my iPhone


  31. Congratulations Carson and Ruth. Blessings on your upcoming marriage. God bless you abundantly as you take this journey together. I am very happy for you Carson!

  32. Carson, I am so happy for you. What a beautiful note. Annabel

  33. Hi Carson,

    As I began reading your post, I was thinking, “this is such good stuff, I should ask Carson if I can reprint this.” As I kept reading I quickly realized you were not going in the direction I thought.

    So my simple reply is now just “Congratulations!”

    God provides all our needs, He knows them even when we often don’t.

    Blessings on you both Carson.

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  34. Carson, how wonderful that you have found love again and what an inspiring story. I truly wish you and Ruth a life of pure joy together and with your family circle.

  35. Carson,

    This truly is a beautiful story. Today is my mother’s birthday – we lost her to cancer last January. Your post hit so many notes with me. I want to share that I am very happy for your happiness. Although our individual paths crossed only briefly, please know I have considered that crossing one of the Lords great blessings in my life.

    Have an amazing day, J

    Sent from my iPhone


  36. Beautiful indeed Carson (and Ruth)! So pleased for the both of you! Floods of blessings on your union!

  37. Wow! So happy for you, Uncle Carson! I look forward to meeting Ruth sometime. Has she been married before as well? It will be nice to hear more about this latest edition to the family!

  38. Absolutely beautiful and such a powerful reminder of God’s deepest love that He pour’s out continually. Praise the Lord for such a divine encounter that will be used in powerful ways to advance His Kingdom in ways we could of never imagined. Love you both and I’m so excited to see whats to come. Joni

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