Last week was a very eventful one in the Barnes family.  I became a grandfather again, and I got engaged!  Someone said to me, “You’re on such a roll, Peter, I won’t be surprised if your bracket is the winning one for the NCAA tournament!”

Lucy Lorene (named for Lorie) Barnes was born on Tuesday, March 13th at 1:42 pm our time.  She weighed 7 lbs. 11 oz.  Mother and daughter are all doing well, and my son Jason is over-the-moon in love with his new little girl.  And big sister Millie thinks Lucy is even more fun to cuddle with than any of her dolls.  Rejoice with us this gift of new life.  How grateful I am that my son and his wife wanted to honor Lorie’s memory in this special way.

Lucy Lorene Barnes

And two days before Lucy was born I asked Lee McDowell to marry me, and she said “yes!”   Many of you have had the chance to meet Lee the last few months when she has been in Winston-Salem to visit, and I’ve been so grateful at the warm reception you have provided her.  She loves our church.  Back in December Lee and I met each other’s families, and that went extremely.  But I wondered what meeting my church family would be like for her, and for you.  Lorie was such a special part of my life and our church’s life before, and I didn’t know what it would be like introducing someone new into our church family.  You have been so warm and gracious, and I can’t thank you enough for making room in your hearts for this new love in my life.

Here’s the backstory to my relationship with Lee.  You may recall that back in the fall as I approached the anniversary of Lorie’s death, I felt like I had made enough progress in grieving her loss that I might be open to exploring a new relationship.  The visit to Lorie’s home in New Castle, PA, in September and scattering some of Lorie’s ashes at the old family farm on our wedding anniversary was a turning point for me.  I was so grateful for the 38 amazing years Lorie and I shared together and I knew that she would hold a special place of love in my heart forever, but I also sensed that God was calling me to look to the future and not to the past and that I needed to lean into the next chapter He was writing for my life.  In addition, I had a dream in which Lorie told me she prayed that I might find love again.  It was such a remarkable gift from God, and I felt that in this dream both God and Lorie gave me permission to pursue a new relationship.

Lee & Peter in Colorado

A mutual friend introduced Lee McDowell to me back in the fall, and she and I began to explore a relationship.  She lives in Denver and I in Winston-Salem, so it was a long-distance challenge.  But we found a way to make it work, and we made trips to see each other about every 3-5 weeks.  The relationship proceeded along rather quickly.  As someone said, “You two dove into the deep end of the pool right away, and you just stayed there.”  We have both been stunned at how easy things have been in the relationship and how aligned we are over all the important matters of faith and life.  I guess when you get to be our age, you know what you’re looking for and you know when you find it.

Two weekends ago Lee was visiting once again.  In anticipation of the visit, I wrote to each of her children, and I also wrote to my sons.  And I asked them for their support and their blessing on our relationship.  Each of them was so supportive and excited for us, and I was so encouraged by their outpouring of love.

On Sunday evening I proposed, and Lee said yes.  No date for the wedding yet, but it will be sometime this summer.  Coordinating the calendars of 6 kids and 11 grandchildren and multiple pastors to officiate will be a challenge!  We plan to have a small wedding in CO with just family.

Thank you for your love and support and most importantly your prayers.  I woke up Monday morning after I proposed wondering, “What just happened?  Am I really engaged?  How did all this happen in such a short time?  And how am I so blessed to find love again at this stage in my life?”  It is all so surreal, and I feel like I’m in a dream, but it sure is a nice one!  I hope I never wake up.

Rejoice with me these wonderful gifts of grace, and thanks for your love and support over all these years.  It means so much.  All God’s best to each of you.