I understand my story is difficult to hear.
It is certainly painful to tell.
There are days when I have to try harder than others to not live with a victim mentality. Days when the anger, resentment, and bitterness want to have free rein in my heart. Days in which it would be easier to just give in to despair.
The losses we faced back then were compounded by all the other losses that seemed to keep coming no matter what we tried or did. Yes, even ongoing losses that seem to be insurmountable.
Certainly, in spite of the horrors visited upon us in the spring of 2011–the horrors that reached a crescendo pitch on October 10, 2011, I sit here at my desk today as an incredibly blessed man.
In this season of thanksgiving, I am acutely aware of my past. But I am even more acutely aware of my present and the hope we have for the future.
I am thankful for the health of my children–of every variety. I am thankful beyond words for the beauty, vitality, and heart of the woman who has made it her job to walk alongside me as my wife.
I am thankful for my redemption–from God and for God. I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve again as a minister. I am thankful for my new church family. I am thankful for their encouragement to use my story for the help and hope of others. Redemption for me means using this story of faith and doubt, agony and pain, and restoration as means to bring honor to those we lost–and to ensure their deaths would never be in vain.
Yes, I am so very thankful.
I am thankful for family far and near.
I am thankful for friends old, present, and future.
I am thankful for hope both now and in the eternity to come–an eternity that is closer than we often know.
I am thankful.
Over the last several weeks I sat through hours of interviews with a new friend, Billy Watkins. Billy is a writer/ investigative reporter for the Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson, MS. We talked about things I had forgotten. I recalled things that were difficult to put together. I described things whose clarity has not yet begun to fade nor will in any future I can imagine. Some things just are…
But Billy and I talked. A lot. In person, via text, on the phone. We talked a lot.
In some of those conversations, I cried–and I think there were times he cried in the hearing.
The story he heard was terrible. It was terrible in the telling. It was terrible in the writing. It is terrible in the reading.
But I am thankful for the opportunity he gave me. I have heard from countless people who see the hand of God still active in our lives. And that hand of God? That is the real story.
That is the real story.
And I am thankful.
If you would like to see the story as Billy wrote it, you can see it here.
As well, I’d like to point you to my latest offering at Wineskins. I hope it will be of benefit.
Blessings to you and have a Happy Thanksgiving!