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Perfect Imperfection

Tonight we put up our Christmas tree, the first Ravella/Gilbert tree. Actually we have two trees. One is artificial. It is perfect. It has p...

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Merry Christmas

9 years ago on quite possibility the most nontraditional Christmas Day ever I met a man named Jim. I only knew of him and his wife through a handful of emails but I knew his heart and that made everything ok. I never dreamt that 5 months after that Christmas dinner with a table full of his family, all strangers to me, I would be walking down the aisle to join him in penning the second volume of our lives. I have been sifting through all the photos taken last week and came across this one. Mark from TIME magazine snapped this with his cell phone. It took my breath away. While I was focused on the flag-draped casket, thinking a million thoughts about the moments that led the kids and I to that hauntingly beautiful place called Arlington National Cemetery, I didn't notice Jim standing in the distance saluting the father of his children. There are a million unspoken words in this picture. It's who Jim is. He stands on the sidelines, never demanding the attention, always thoughtful, ever serving... the ultimate wingman Troy needed for the mission his family would carry on without him. Andrea's last words to her beloved husband, Jim, as she entered the hospital doors for the last time were that she needed him to be strong now. She knew more than possibly any of us on that November 26, 2007 day. Oblivious to the Ravella family's struggles I was living 1000 miles away preparing for my one-year anniversary of Troy's death. Jim was preparing to do what he did best - to sit with and to take care of his sick wife so he could get her discharged and they could go back home and keep on living life together, in sickness and in health - but Andrea - she was preparing him for life after she was gone. Out of the rubble of two families has risen a pillar of a man - Jim. We all love you @jjravella and cannot imagine what this Christmas today would be like without that Christmas Day in '07 when we first met. You have proven your devotion to us time and time again since that crazy Christmas. But in no moment has your quiet strength and selfless love been so evident as it was this past week. I do believe Troy saluted you first. We all just couldn't see it. Merry Christmas to Jim, my favorite gift.


  1. I just listening to your story on Jamie Ivey's podcast and found the blog. This picture absolutely takes my breath away. Thank you for sharing your lives and your faith through adversity.