On November 20, 2019 my brother went home to be with the Lord, his Savior. I believe this with my whole heart. Why? Because I had the privilege of sitting by his side, hearing his prayers, and witnessing the change in his eyes. His eyes that were once grey and empty now were warm and inviting. He had Jesus, he was no longer held captive by the stronghold of alcoholism.

Some may hear our story and think, “what a tragedy!” And true enough, we have suffered, been filled with aching hearts and have been overwhelmed with the feeling of loss. YET God in his goodness gave us peace to look into Zach’s eyes and see the hope reborn in him because of Christ. We have experienced blessings through tragedy many times over. Sounds like an oxymoron, I know, but it is beautifully possible with God in control.

It’s true, some may think my family has suffered a great tragedy and injustice because my brothers life ended way too soon. But none of us are promised tomorrow, and it is today, this moment that counts. So it begs the question, what have you done with Jesus? Have you shared the hope that you have with another? Can people see in your eyes the warmth and welcoming love of Christ? Have you also been blessed through a tragedy in your life?

I have learned that tragedy comes with ripples of blessings. There is an event – a tragedy – one that shakes the family to the core. And like an earthquake the tragedy has the power to knock down even the strongest of people. An earthquake, like a tragedy, resets our lives. It causes us to pause. It provides an opportunity to rebuild. It exposes our weakest areas of faith and gives offers a chance to fortify them. If there was no earthquake, and no tragedy, life dare I say, may be far less rich and compassionate. It is in the moments of our darkest tragedies that we are open to see God with fresh eyes and open to love people with greater empathy and a deeper love. 

My brother’s passing was a tragedy. But it has also brought about blessing and new life in ways I never would have imagined.

My youngest daughter Lydia came home a few weeks back from Wednesday night church and was reading a little booklet sent home with all the kids about the Gospel story. She sat down at the counter and started reading it aloud. The booklet ended with a prayer to accept Jesus. After she read it I asked her, “Have you said this prayer to Jesus? Have you told him you want him to be Lord of your life? Have you asked him to forgive your sins?” 

Lydia paused, scratched her cheek and looked at the prayer in the booklet. Then a big grin came over her face and she started giggling. “What’s so funny?” I asked her. She replied, “I actually prayed twice!” We both just laughed! Then I asked her, “How did you feel after you prayed and asked Jesus to be your Savior?”

This is the moment I will never forget. 

“Well,” she started slowly, “It was in November. I was at church on a Wednesday night and Miss Carol asked if anyone wanted to come up and accept Jesus. I wanted to go up because I had not been sleeping good. I was sad and worried about you,” she said. 

She continued, “But that night, after I prayed, I slept so good! I felt so happy.”

Tears flooded my face with joy. I let out a shout of joy, grabbed her and hugged her! “I am so happy for you Lydia! This is the best news! This is the best and most important decision you will ever make!” I told her.

Matthew 19:14 says, “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

The kingdom of heaven belongs to Lydia, and any child who makes this choice! 

Later that night, I was rehearsing our conversation, and it hit me, like a wave. I began bawling. Little did I know that I had been carrying guilt around with me because I had been gone from home so much. You may remember I mentioned my brother passed on November 20th. Most of November I was not home. I was at the ICU room, with my brother and parents. 

This is the part that amazes me! 

While I was caring for my parents and spending time with my brother in his last days on earth, God showed up and filled in with his comforting arms for my sweet Lydia. He met her on her saddest nights when I was gone and she was worried about me and about her uncle. God showed me through Lydia’s encounter with Him how deep His love is. He showed me that even when I feel like I am failing as a mom, when I can’t be present, He holds my girls and gives them just what they need. He is truly a good, good Father – not just to me, but to my children.

In my absence, God stepped in and filled the void. Without tragedy, without my absence giving her the opportunity to feel pain, heartache and worry, maybe there would not have been the void in Lydia’s life that led her straight into the arms of Jesus.

Acts 16:31 gives us a promise that we can grab hold of and claim over our families and over our homes, “They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” I believe this promise, because I have seen it with my own eyes!

Lydia’s journey to meet God, to accept Him into her life, was just ONE of the many blessings that has birthed from the tragic loss of my brother. In about a month’s time, I saw two of the most cherished people in my life give their hearts to Jesus. There is nothing that can even come close to comparing with that blessing!

I am thankful to know Jesus because He is the reason I have hope. I pray that if you don’t know Him that you reach out to Him. Trust Him and He will meet you in your need, right where you are! If you don’t know Jesus, but would like to know more, please reach out to me, I would love the opportunity to introduce Him to you. 

NEW: Resource Share : Jesus Calling for Kids by Sarah Young

This is one of my favorite devotion books that we do together as a family every morning before school. Jesus Calling for Kids, by Sarah Young. If you know Jesus, and have kids in your life that you want to bless by giving them Jesus, this is a great resource. Click the link below to buy a copy for your family!

And if you are looking for Hope, please check out my book, Ascent to Hope!