Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our First Trip Without Amanda

I always knew this trip would be difficult, and it was. Before we even left, as I loaded the car, it began. The trunk, usually packed full when we make our twice yearly journey to North Carolina, had plenty of space left when all our bags were inside. The gaping emptiness should have been occupied by two small, green suitcases.

Those two little green pieces of luggage accompanied us on every trip we ever made as a family, until now. They were the same two bags Amanda carried when she came to live with us at six years old. When I closed the trunk of our car, their absence drove home the point that we were yet again embarking on another first--our first family vacation as a family of three.

Over and over again, I caught myself glancing back to the empty seat you should have occupied. Over and over, it remained empty. Your laugh and your voice were constantly, noticeably missing throughout the 1000 mile drive to the east coast. The laughs, the smiles, even the complaints, I missed and longed for.

Once, the song If I Die Young played on the radio. I sung along under my breath as I scanned the sky for the rainbow described in the lyrics. Even though conditions seemed right for the colored arch to appear, it didn't. Again, punctuating the pain caused by the empty seat in the back.

Even though you might have chosen not to make this trip, the fact that you couldn't be with us made it really tough. You would have been 18, and you might have stayed behind. To work or just to exercise your independence, you might have left those two small green suitcases unpacked and at home. Your place in the back seat might have been empty anyway. But you didn't get to choose, and you weren't staying at home.

This was another of the "firsts" we had to experience because an evil man, doing the bidding of Satan, gunned you down and stole you from us. Who knows how many more of these will come. As we continue down this path, we routinely encounter little events that we should be experiencing with you. Around every curve, over every hill, another opportunity to spend time with you is missed because you are gone.

I thank God for the family I have left. I am truly blessed to have a wonderful wife and a beautiful daughter to spend this time with. I am also blessed to have had the years we had with Amanda. Though the memories bring tears to my eyes now, they are priceless treasures that I'll forever cling to. But as richly blessed as I am, the pain of missing her is a pain I'll suffer forevermore.

" 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them [those who have died in Christ] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words."-- 2 Thessalonians 4:17-18

The only reason I can continue to move forward is Jesus' promise that one day I'll see Amanda again. One day, I'll make my trip to Heaven and meet her at the gate. I'll throw my arms around her and hug her so tight, and maybe never let her go. One day...

Wish you were here baby girl...



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Memory" by Taylor Dawn

This is a beautiful song that really tugs at my heart, written and sung by a young woman I have had the privilege of teaching. The lyrics say exactly what I feel on a lot of nights, thinking about Amanda.



" 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them [those who have died in Christ] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words."-- 2 Thessalonians 4:17-18

I thank God for His grace and mercy that assures me that one day we'll be reunited and I will no longer have to rely on memories to see my beautiful daughter. Until then, memories are what get me by. Thank you Jesus for the wonderful years I shared with Amanda.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

1st Father's Day Without Amanda

Father's Day. The first one in a lot of years that Amanda wasn't here with us. I so wish she was, but it was still a good day. As much as I wish I could have seen her and talked to her and kissed her and hugged her this morning, I still have a lot to be grateful for. I have a beautiful, loving wife and a wonderful daughter still here with me who I'm thankful for. And, though they were way too few, I'm so fortunate to have had the years we shared before she were killed.

"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:18

One thing I have always told my students is to be thankful for what they have. Whenever kids start complaining about how hard life is, or about what they don't have, I always tell them to look around and they will see someone less fortunate than they are. I usually give them the line, "Even the poorest person in our country is rich compared to most people in the world."

After Amanda was killed, it wasn't easy to practice what I've been preaching in this regard. It took a while, but now I've come to a point where I can be thankful for what I still have, and for the years I was blessed to have Amanda in my life.

That doesn't mean today went without tears, or that I'm never sad. On the contrary, today was tough and several times I found myself drifting away from my surroundings and remembering Amanda's life and death. I remembered so many years before, on this day, when she'd come into the kitchen in the morning carrying a present for me. Face beaming with a smile that I miss so much, she'd hand me the present and just glow as I opened it. I am fortunate to have those memories, and so grateful that God gave me the years with Amanda that we shared.

I missed her today, but I'm so appreciative that Courtney is still here. I felt extremely blessed when she came out of her bedroom this morning with my present. I'm so thankful that I still have her and Janice. As I've read and searched the web for anything and everything dealing with the loss of a child, I've learned of and corresponded with many who lost more than one child. Some lost their only child. Some even lost their entire family.

I lost Amanda, but I was blessed to have her in my life for these past few years and I continue to be blessed with a wonderful wife and daughter. I continue to thank God for the time I had with Amanda, and for the family I'm still blessed with.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." -- Romans 8:28

In a tragedy like we've suffered, it's hard for most people to understand this verse. How can God make something good come from something so evil? Let's take a look.

At Amanda's funeral, 60-100 people accepted Christ as their Savior. One of Amanda's friends later wrote me and told me she shared Amanda's story at church and over 20 people were saved that day. Numerous others have written and told me how they were either introduced to God or turned back to Him as a result of Amanda's death. Just this week, a young lady I have never met wrote me and asked that we start a prayer chain for her 5-year-old niece who was recently diagnosed with Leukemia. We did and many were praying for young Cadence, people from across the country who didn't know her and lacked any connection except for our organization. Cadence's aunt wrote the next day to tell us her niece is going to be okay.

All those people are evidence that God is working to make good come from the bad. But there's more. Since March, our readers have donated over $3,000 to St. Jude, Arkansas Children's Hospital, and Soaring Wings Ranch through our fundraising pages. Lives are truly being changed and good things are happening that are keeping Amanda's memory alive.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." -- Philippians 4:13

I'll never understand why she had to die. I honestly don't believe it was God's will that she be murdered. An evil man, inspired and influenced by Satan took my beautiful daughter's life. I can't change that. The only thing I can do is choose how I react to it.

I was asked today if I was running to God, or away. The woman who asked me that knew those were the two choices I had. I choose to run toward Him. I choose to give my life to Him to use it as He sees fit, for the glory of His Kingdom. Then, in His time, I'll be reunited with Amanda in a glorious place with no pain and no suffering.

I can say I had a happy Father's Day because Jesus gave me the strength to find peace and happiness in my wife and surviving daughter, and in the memories built in the years we were blessed to share with Amanda.

Thank you Lord for giving me the strength to keep going in the face of terrible loss, for the strength to look at what you have blessed me with and be grateful, for the strength choose to follow You in these difficult times. And thank you Jesus for giving me the peace that comes with the grace and salvation one can only find in You. I am truly blessed, and truly grateful.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Please Pray for Cadence and Her Family

A couple of days ago, a young lady contacted me and asked if we would try to start a prayer chain for her 5-year-old niece, Cadence and her family. This beautiful child was recently diagnosed with Leukemia and is being treated at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Though such a diagnosis would devastate any family, the pain is especially poignant to those who love Cadence.

In April of 2010, her 17-year-old brother, Brett, was killed in a car accident not far from their home. Cadence's aunt told me her family was still struggling from this tragic loss when they learned of her illness.

God promises not to put more on our plate than we can handle, but I know that losing a child pushes one to the brink. I can't even imagine losing one then facing the prospect of losing another. The thought of an innocent child facing the pain and suffering that comes with Leukemia seems quite capable of carrying one right over the edge.

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." -- 1 Corinthians 10:13

I recently finished Rev. John Piper's book, 90 Minutes in Heaven. Piper credits every breath he has taken since his accident in 1989 to the power of prayer. Pronounced dead and covered with a sheet by first responders, left in that condition for 90 minutes while EMT's treated others involved and police officers investigated the crash, John was prayed back to life by a passing pastor who prayed over his lifeless body--prayed for God to bring him back--even after being told there it was no use.

Jesus made the blind to see, made the lame walk, made the deaf hear, made the mute speak, cured Lepers, and even brought the dead back to life. He has the power to cure this beautiful child, if that is His will. Please join me in a widespread petition of prayer on behalf of Cadence and her family. Ask Jesus for healing for this little girl and for peace and strength for her parents and brother.

I'm sure her aunt, and maybe even the rest of the family will be keeping an eye on this post. Please comment here to let them know you've joined this prayer chain, and please pass this on and encourage others to do the same. Send this to everyone you know and let's see if we can bombard Heaven with prayer on behalf of Cadence and her family. It's possible that our prayers, all of our prayers, are the way out that God is providing this family. Please join us.

Thank you and may God bless you all!



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Saddest Day of Each Month

Today is June 15, exactly 5 months from the day Amanda was killed. Ever since that night, the 15th of every month has been difficult. Every day is difficult really, but the 15th is different. On every other day I think about Amanda, and miss her. Sometimes they're happy thoughts, sometimes regrets, but they're always thoughts about her life--how she lived, things we did, things we said to each other, etc. When the 15th rolls around though, the thoughts are different. On these monthly anniversaries, thoughts center on the night she was killed and the way she died. The 15th of each month is always a sad day now.

With each and every passing month,
The fifteenth rolls around.
It matters not what's going on,
The sadness crashes down.

It's the day of the month
That so changed our life,
When to us came the news
That we lost you that night.

Though each day has been hard
Since fate took you away,
The worst of every month
Comes on the fifteenth day.

Each day has its memories,
Of times we spent with you,
So many things I can recall
That together we would do.

Though not all are good,
So many are quite fond
On those days before mid-month
And the other days beyond.

Thoughts of things that we did
As a family one and all,
And other things quite funny
Of you that I recall.

Sometimes those memories
Are of things that I regret,
Words and things I'd take back
If the chance I could only get.

Bad thoughts and good thoughts
Come on those other days.
But the sad and the bad,
By the good are outweighed.

But it's always the same
Each month at this time,
Amanda's death I recall
And the horrible crime.

" 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." -- 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Though there are bad days, these verses give me peace knowing that Amanda is in a better place, without suffering and pain and heartache. I am extremely grateful that one day I'll be reunited with her for eternity. I do not understand how anyone could make it through such a loss without the peace of the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ.

I hope and pray that anyone reading this who doesn't know that peace will follow the instructions linked below and find it.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why Donate to Soaring Wings Ranch?

Here at Running with Amanda, we raise money for 3 specific children's charities--St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Arkansas Children's Hospital, and Soaring Wings Ranch. We've already done posts on why we support St. Jude and ACH, now it's time to explain why we raise for Soaring Wings.

Last October, a friend talked me into running the Soaring Wings Half Marathon in Conway, Arkansas. She told me it was a great course, organized well, a lot of fun, and for a great cause. At the time, I didn't really know a thing about the ranch or what it was. But I entered anyway, more looking for another half marathon to run than to support a worthy cause.

Once I'd signed up though, I began to dig a little deeper to see just what Soaring Wings Ranch was really all about. What I learned made me really glad to have entered that October race, and made SWR a natural choice for one of the charities we'd support when we decided to start Running with Amanda.

"even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." — Isaiah 40:30-31

SWR provides a Christian home to young people who find themselves in difficult situations and need a chance to grow up in a loving, Christ-centered home. Founder Andrew Watson started with little more than a dream when he and his wife, Marla, moved to Conway in 2002 to begin work on the ranch. By October 2004, God had provided private donations to purchase the 195 acre property SWR now calls home. In August 2007, the first three children to call the ranch home arrived.

Currently the ranch sports two homes, a boys' home and a girls' home, with room for eight children in each. In each home, Christian houseparents serve to lead, guide, direct, and love the children in their care. Houseparents are a committed Christian couple who have undergone extensive testing and background checks that make it obvious they have been called to this special work.

Houseparents, other SWR staff, and professional counselors provide an array of services to the children to encourage their spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual development. Kids at SWR attend church with their ranch family, attend group and individual counseling sessions, train in a variety of physical activities, and attend quality public schools.

To date, the ranch is operating at capacity with its current facilities. Its boys' and girls' homes are maxed out with eight children residing in each. But SWR is looking to expand so it can serve more young people in need. The SWR 2.2 Plan lays out a bold initiative to double its capacity to serve children and offer its residents a wider array of services.


Quotes from Soaring Wings Kids

"This is more than a home to me and I know God sent me here to be happy. There are lots of loving people here and sweet people. One of my favorite things is how Mom and Dad take care of us. They are special."
–L., age 8

"I like that we have a nice, comfortable house. It’s a safe place with the alarms on our house. Also the house parents are loyal, caring, and always there for us when others are not. Another thing is that it is all Christian based and a Lord-loving environment. Those are just a few of the many great things I love about the Ranch."
–M., age 13

"To me, Soaring Wings is more than my home. It’s a safe place. Here, they taught me the best way to have a Christian home! I have become really close to my mom, and I love my daddy with all my heart!"
–B., age 16


Your support is crucial! SWR operates WITHOUT GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE, depending entirely on private and corporate donations. So far, Watson and SWR have been able to operate debt-free and would like to keep it that way. Our donations give these kids hope, love, and a chance to grow up in a Christian home. Your donation may save a child's life.

These are the reasons we raise money for Soaring Wings Ranch. Your donations to Soaring Wings Ranch through our page help to Reach people for Jesus, Raise money for charity, and Remember Amanda. But if you can't donate, please share this post with your friends to let them know how they can help the kids at Soaring Wings!



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Friday, June 10, 2011

I can't help but wonder...

This coming Wednesday will be five months since Amanda was killed. I wonder what she'd be doing now if she was still alive?

I can't help but wonder
How things would be,
If you were still here
On this earth with me.

You'd be out of school,
That's certainly true.
But would you have a job,
Or nothing to do?

You planned on college,
In the Fall to begin.
Would you have everything ready,
Or have more stuff to turn in?

You spoke of leaving home,
Moving in with some friends.
Would you have done it,
Or this house still live in?

These are some things
That I think of sometimes.
Not a day passes
That you're not on my mind.

I have so many questions
Now that you're gone.
Questions without answers
I'll forever ponder on.

I can't help but wonder
What things would be like,
If five months ago
You'd lived through that night.

Until we're reunited
I'll wonder and wait.
Then my questions won't matter
When we meet at Heaven's gate.

" 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." -- 2 Thessalonians 4:16-17

That's what keeps me going...the knowledge and hope that one day, one glorious day, we'll be together again in a place without suffering, without death. I have no doubt that I'd never have been able to keep going without Jesus, without the peace that knowing Him offers. Knowing I'll see her again keeps me moving forward.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

"I Will Rise"--by Chris Tomlin

If you've lost someone close to you, especially a child, please listen to this song and read the following passage from the New Testament. My daughter, Amanda Marie Allison was killed on January 15 of this year and the only reason I can continue to move forward is the knowledge that I will rise one day and join her in Heaven.


" 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words."-- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

"We who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." With them...that's a guarantee, right in God's Word.

I don't know how anyone could make it through such a terrible ordeal without the peace and hope offered by Jesus and God's Word that we who are saved will one glorious day rejoin our dear loved ones in an eternal life with no suffering, no death, no fear.

There is hope, and it's available to all of us. If you're struggling and you don't know Jesus, if you don't have the hope that makes it possible for me to keep going, please follow the steps outlined at the link below and join us in the body of believers. Join us and have the same hope that offers peace in place of torment, hope in the place of despair, love in the place of hate.

May God open your eyes so that you might see, your ears so that you might hear, and your heart so that you might receive.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Great Day at the Sole to Soul 5K

Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot. That's what the weather was like at the Sole to Soul 5K this morning! The thermometer in our vehicle said 750 on the way to the race at 6:30. By 9:30, on the way back, it read 950! I figure it was probably 850 at the 8:00 am start.

It was a small race, only about 100 runners. The heat and humidity might have had something to do with that. But we had a great time running to support another great cause. Proceeds from the race went to support St. Andrew's Church Youth Missions.

It's definitely one I'd like to do again next year. Hopefully, it won't be quite so hot though. Thank you Jesus for giving us the strength, motivation, and will to keep Running with Amanda.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Memorial Day Run with Cabot Country Cruisers

This post is a little late, but I've been busy playing mechanic all week. Tonight I finished and pulled our Blazer out of the garage so I finally have time to post it.

Last weekend I noticed a post on the Facebook page of the Cabot Country Cruisers, a local runners' group, advertising their Memorial Day run and inviting anyone who wanted to participate. They were starting only a half mile from my house so I decided to join them. I'm really glad I did!

Because it was so close, I ran to the rendezvous and was thrilled when they suggested we run to the Veterans' Memorial in our town. I had the same thought earlier. Then I was really pleased when they asked everyone to bow their heads to pray before we started.

Our loop carried us to the Memorial where we stopped to take a group picture, and ended up a little more than 6 miles. I had a really great time and met several new friends. This looks like a group I'll be joining more often in the future.


Tomorrow though, Janice and I are running the Sole to Soul 5K at Burns Park in North Little Rock. The heat and humidity are crazy already and it's only the first week in June! It would sure be motivating to see a few donations coming into the charities we support. If you can give, even if it's only a little, you'll be helping the kids of St. Jude, Arkansas Children's Hospital, or Soaring Wings Ranch.

Please choose one of those charities and make a donation. Help us Reach, Raise, and Remember! Even if you can only give $5, it makes a difference. Imagine if all 709 of our Facebook followers gave $5 tonight. By morning we'd have collected more than $3500, more than enough to surpass our goals.

If you can't give money, you can still help. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter, you can share our page with your friends, and you can comment on our blog and Facebook page. All these help us spread our reach, which helps us Reach more, Raise more, and Remember more.

God bless you all! Thanks so much for your support!



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

God's Promise to Be Together Again

If not for the belief that one day we'll be reunited in Heaven one day, I doubt I'd have been able to go on after Amanda was killed. I'm certain I'd never have been able to function at the level I have, a level that leads many to tell me how strong I am. Personally, I don't consider myself strong. I just keep going.

Though I've always believed I'll see Amanda when it's my time to get to Heaven, I've been searching the Bible since she was killed to confirm it. A couple of months ago, I began reading Paul's letters in the New Testament. Today, I finally arrived at the verses that say, in no uncertain terms, that we will be together again.

" 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words."-- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

If you've never experienced the loss of a child, you can't know the depth of the pain. I hope you never have to. I had loved and lost before, but nothing comes even close to the hurt I felt when Amanda died. Before, whenever I tried to comfort friends or family who had lost a son or daughter, I found myself at a loss for words. Now I know why.

There are no words. No words to lessen the pain, no words to bring them back, no words to turn back time, no words to change what happened. It hurts worse than any physical or emotional pain I've ever felt before. I've lost grandparents, cousins, uncles, etc., and the suffering didn't compare. I've been hit, kicked, stomped, crushed, mangled, and bit by people, objects, and various animals. Broken bones and sliced skin resulted in pain that seems no worse than the irritation caused by a mosquito bite beside the pain of losing my daughter. No words from family, friends, pastors, or others can ease that pain. Nothing takes the pain away.

But the hope that we'll be together again, the promise from God that one day I'll pass through the gates of Heaven and Amanda will be waiting there...it doesn't stop the hurting now, but it makes it more bearable...makes it possible to bear. So even though we go on hurting, it's a hurt that we know one day will end and we'll see our loved one again.

Remember, we were never guaranteed a pain-free life, neither Christians nor nonbelievers. But we're promised in God's Word that our suffering will end if we confess our sins and believe that Jesus came to Earth, died, and was resurrected to save us from damnation, to give us eternal life. Pain is of this world, but accepting the free gift of salvation offered by God to us through Jesus Christ, guarantees that once we pass, we'll spend eternity without pain, without suffering.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world"--John 16:33

Though the pain of losing a child is more intense than any other, that pain will end. It will end when our time on Earth is done, when we make the trip to join our loved ones in Heaven. In verse 17 of the first passage above, we're promised we'll be "together" again with those who preceded us in death...those who died with Jesus in their hearts, those who believed, those who accepted the gift of salvation before they were taken from this life.

People are mistaken when they think I'm strong. I'm not strong at all. All the pain, all the hurt is still here everyday. Amanda is on my mind almost constantly. The instant is rare when she doesn't cross my mind, everyday. It's not strength that keeps me going. It's hope.

It's the hope that the day is coming where I'll see my baby girl again. It's the thought of the day I'll pass through those pearly gates, see her, run to her, and throw my arms around her. It's looking forward to that day when I can again hold her tight and maybe never let go. It's the thought of spending eternity with her and never having to worry about losing her again.

That's what keeps me going. Every day.

It's not that I don't grieve. It's not that I'm not hurting. It's the peace I get from that hope, the hope that comes with accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior. It's the knowledge that one day the pain will end forever.

If you've lost a child, and you're lost, unsure that you can go on, if you have no idea what's right and what's wrong, if you don't know what to do, where to go, or which way to turn, try Jesus. You can have the same peace, the peace that comes from the promise that one day you and your child will be reunited.

I pray that if you're reading this and you don't know Jesus, if you're lost and hurting, that you'll turn to Jesus. Many turn to alcohol or drugs or other destructive behaviors in a search to end the pain. It never works. While those things dull the pain temporarily, they never offer the hope that it will one day end forever.

Only Jesus offers that. If you've lost a son or daughter, if you're wandering through life lost without direction, try Jesus. God promised us that even this horrible pain will end one day and we'll be rejoined with Amanda in Heaven, if we accept Jesus into our hearts.

You can have that peace. It won't stop you from hurting in this life, but becoming a Christian will stop you from suffering when your time on Earth is over.

That's enough to keep me going. Please, if don't know that peace, follow the directions below and take that step, make the choice that offers peace that passes all understanding, even while enduring the worst of all possible pains in this life.

One day, one glorious day, I'll be with my beautiful daughter again.



If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.