The road is filled with great surprises and beautiful stories. One of the most powerful stories was told to me at the first stop of my Hope of Christmas tour in Manchester, NH. Whitney Konz was just 26 when her 24-year-old husband was shot and killed last summer. This marks her second Christmas season without her beloved Kevin. I desire to honor Whitney & Kevin by telling their story, and by sharing how she’s found a way to survive in the midst of horrendous pain, hopefully helping someone else trapped in the prison of grief.
One of the best ways Whitney found to survive after Kevin died was to hunt for a support system. She found a non-profit organization called Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation (sslf.org). In addition to providing a national network of support for anyone grieving the loss of someone they love — with a special emphasis on those who have been widowed — SSLF offers a variety of programs, including Camp Widow (www.campwidow.org), which Whitney reluctantly signed up for.
“I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t want to be disappointed if the other widow/ers wouldn’t know how to connect with me because my story was too tragic or too sad. Boy, was I wrong! There are a multitude of tragic and sad stories and it was the first place in eight months that I had felt normal. I didn’t cringe when someone asked me how he died, I told my story and just felt the instant love, support, and acceptance that was so difficult to get from others who just didn’t understand.” Read more →
When I kicked off my Hope of Christmas Tour 2012 in Manchester, NH, I had no idea the gift I would receive. To be honest, I’m usually sufficiently surprised by what happens when I do concerts and the amazing stories people tell me. But this one was different. Whitney Konz helped me out at the CD table for the evening, but it wasn’t until after the concert I learned her story.
There’s a part of my concert where I talk about how Christmas is an extremely difficult time of the year for many people. While the whole world seems to be celebrating and decking the halls with family and friends, many are experiencing intense feelings of sadness and grief due to death of a loved one, distance in relationship, depression, discord…I could go on, right? Then I sing “Emmanuel (You Are With Me)” [watch the video here]. But when I heard Whitney’s story, I knew she could probably speak to this topic better than I ever could.
On June 24th, 2011 Whitney’s world was shattered when she got a phone call that her husband, Kevin, was dead. He had been mistaken as an intruder and shot. She was only 26 years old and the magnitude of not only his death, but the manner in which he died, was so unbelievable that she didn’t know if she was going to be able to survive.
“I stayed up nights crying and screaming. I couldn’t help thinking that it was my fault and that I should have done something, anything different so he would still be alive. It took months and months of support groups, individual therapy, and support from friends and family to finally realize that this was not my fault and that even though I was going through unimaginable pain, in time the pain would not be so bad and I would eventually smile at his memory instead of cry.”
How’s your summer going? I hope well. I’m enjoying the heat and humidity of Nashville, thanks to a nearby pool! I’m also enjoying reading some good books, evening runs, and watching baseball on TV or at the Nashville Sounds AAA team games.
First off, thank you so much for all your love and encouragement. It means the world to me that we’ve connected through a concert, a song, or perhaps even a movie or TV show. What a great thing to know that we’re not alone on this journey. And that by coming together we can give each other fresh doses of HOPE to make it through another day. I’m grateful.
Things I want you to know about: 1) NEW SONG 2) UPCOMING CONCERTS 3) 20 YEARS IN NASHVILLE WRAP-UP 4) WHY I’M DOING THIS
I’m so happy to be able to announce that literary agent Bucky Rosenbaum of Rosenbaum & Associates Literary Agency has signed on to represent my newest book project—WANNABE: How To Make It Big In Nashville (From Someone Who Hasn’t Yet). This is not only great news, but a fantastic dose of encouragement to me, and while it doesn’t guarantee anything, it’s a giant step in the right direction.
And I tell you what, Bucky is awesome. From the first time we met four and a half years ago, I knew I wanted to be friends with this guy. He has tremendous experience with books, in particular, a small book he worked on called “The Purpose Driven Life.” Remember that one? He knows his stuff, and has already been a great coach and mentor to me as a writer. I’m so thankful.