When There are No Words, but Tears and Hope {Reflections on the Life of Cassidy Hale}

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Last Wednesday, I had just arrived at church for a prayer meeting when I heard that a serious accident happened just a minute away on County Road 41. It was a fatality.

My heart raced as I learned more about the family and their daughter, Cassidy Hale, who had just been hit by a pick-up truck while on a walk with a friend. She was only 15 1/2 years old. I had never met this beautiful family but immediately I began tearing up as we prayed for them. I couldn’t imagine the pain they were experiencing. One of our church members Roger told me had just seen her just a little bit ago.

My mind and heart immediately reflected back to when I was a freshman in high school in North Carolina and lost two classmates from a car accident weeks before school was about to let out for the summer. The same ache I had for them struck me thinking about Cassidy and her family. I couldn’t stop thinking and praying for them all week.

When I woke up yesterday, a dense fog hovered over our town. My heart had been anxious for this day. It was the day of Cassidy’s funeral. I got showered, the kids all dressed, and dropped them off to my neighbor Jill’s (my brave friend willing to take on a lot of kids!). My husband was there early among other pastors to help where needed.

As I parked and made my way into our town’s event center where the funeral was being held, I saw parents and students supporting one another, huddled in circles and crying on each other’s shoulders. They walked by the table to see Cassidy’s artwork and baby photos up until she was a teenager.

IMG_0522I then saw her casket over to the left. After signing the guestbook, I made my way over and saw her beautiful lifeless body. The moment felt surreal as if I was in a dream and my heart couldn’t keep up with what my eyes were seeing. Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at her picture frame on top of the casket.

As I sat down, Christian hymns were played on the piano while people were being seated. “All in All,” is the one that hit me the most. As the funeral began, a family member read a piece that Cassidy’s dad wrote about her love for superheroes, overcoming the daily grind of life, and always putting a smile on people’s faces. The pastor spoke about her life and how she was a light, a ray of sunshine to all who knew her. She knew Jesus and was now with him and would want us to know how much He too, loves us. Many came up for prayer after the invitation and showed love and support to her family. About 700 people filled the room.

IMG_1353I never knew Cassidy, as we’ve only lived here a few months, but her life and this whole tragedy has impacted me deeply. Many people would say her life was cut short. And that is true, but she lived a full life, evidence from those who knew her best. In the short amount of time she lived, her impact will reach farther and wider than most people. Because of her life, others came to know the Lord this week. Because of her life, others were encouraged to shine their light brighter too.

It is so difficult to understand the why’s. I have found myself rethinking the accident scene and how it happened and why. I have driven by it a few times. There are no words to say about her sweet young life being cut so short and the pain and suffering her mom and dad and sister are bearing. It is an unimaginable grief.

While at the graveyard, I broke down in tears watching Cassidy’s mom, dad, and sister set their roses on top of her casket. As a mother to four children, my heart ached most for her mom as I watched the pain she was enduring for her first born child. Her precious daughter that she raised and loved and sacrificed for. It was an image forever seared in my mind that I will never forget.

The hope in the midst of such a heartbreaking tragedy is that this earth is not our home. This earth and everything in it will pass away. We have all been given a dash. Cassidy’s was from March 14, 2000 – September 16, 2015. God has an appointed time for me and you. We must be ready for that time because we never know when it will be.

Do you know Jesus? Not just know of him, but do you know him intimately? Do you have a personal relationship with him and are confident that when you die you will meet him face to face and will have to give an account of your life spent on earth? Do you know how crazy in love he is with you, so much that he suffered and died on a cross to save you from your sins? Are you ready to accept his free gift of salvation and choose him as your Savior?

These are the questions Cassidy would want us to confidently answer.

In reflecting on this tragedy and Cassidy’s life, I’ve also seen that there is so much hope and light seen when a community comes together and genuinely supports each other. We hear the news immediately. We pray on the spot. We show love through serving. No matter how well we know the person, we mourn together. It is an ache that does not go away.

IMG_1349There is hope when we know that one day God is going to redeem all that has been lost from us. There is hope because we know The story isn’t over. There is hope that one day Jesus is going to wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will indeed be no more suffering. For those who know Jesus and knew Cassidy, there will one day be rejoicing in heaven together.

After the fog lifted off our little town the day of her funeral, the sun peered through the clouds and there was a gentle breeze. It was as if God was letting us see the light to remind us of the brilliant sunshine that Cassidy was to so many people in our town. And to also remind us that it is only through that we will find everlasting life.

You are thought of constantly and remembered, Cassidy Hale. You are in my prayers Jackie, Randy, and Tayler.

New Article: 5 Words That Could Mean Life or Death to Your Marriage

Last week was an exciting week being able to share an article I wrote that was inspired by a photo I saw. It was a blessing to hear from readers on Start Marriage Right and KirkCameron.com

If you haven’t read it yet I hope you will be encouraged as well.

A few weeks ago, my friend Charity wrote on Facebook that a photo of her friend’s grandparents had made The Huffington Post. I clicked on the link and saw the breathtaking image of this husband and wife. I was instantly caught up in the beauty and tragedy of it.

I imagined what was going through the wife’s mind as she held the fragile hand of her dying husband. I imagined the memories they shared together—the joys and challenges. I imagined the birth of their first child and raising a family in their home. I pictured his strength and her beauty at a young age…

Continue Reading…

Last Thoughts on the Life of Scott McCreedy

I had a few more thoughts I wanted to share from Sunday’s post about Scott McCreedy. There is no doubt at all that Scott was a man of influence. That post happens to be at 1,000 page views according to WordPress and Google stats and the number is climbing- all because Scott touched so many lives and people are searching for his name all over the country and world.

One of Scott’s classmate’s Erin wrote in a Facebook comment, “We have much to learn from him.” Her words are so wise as they demand that we take a good look at ourselves and see where we can be like Scott. Here are a few things I saw from a distance in his life that are worth emulating:

*Scott loved his family.

*Scott loved people.

*Scott was Scott and never tried to be someone else.

*Scott was selfless and served our country, even if it meant major hardship and sacrifice.

*Scott was sensitive and open to God and found comfort from God’s word.

Run to God

Those of you who knew Scott and are struggling, I want to encourage you that God loves you. In a tragedy like this, we can either run from God or draw close to him. Often, the natural response is to run and reject God. Our pride gets in the way and we grow bitter. But that always makes things worse and as time goes by, we end up getting nowhere.

Though it’s tempting, don’t run.

Cling to Him with all you have for strength. Cry out to Him for help. Give him your anger, fear, and worry. Tell him what’s on your heart.

Ask God to give you comfort and peace in this time and to reveal areas where you need to change. I’m asking God the same.

Take time to process and reflect on your life. Who are you living for? Yourself or God? If you died today, are you 100% sure you would go to heaven? The Bible says that God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Belief requires a commitment, an action of placing your faith in the person of Jesus. You’re recognizing that you’re a sinner and that nothing good is in you apart from God.

You recognize that it is by grace that God can save you and there is nothing you can do to earn salvation. You recognize that good works won’t get you to heaven, but the free gift of grace alone.

When you place your faith in Christ, He is the one that changes you. You don’t have to clean yourself up first. That’s God’s job. He changes your desires.

Trusting in Christ is not a religion or a list of rules and legalism. It’s a relationship with your Creator, God who wants to know you personally. Who died to save you, who rose from the dead, and who is coming again. He will never fail you and He is your hope.

Scott’s Legacy

Let’s carry Scott’s legacy with us always. Let’s grow and learn together and share our struggles so we can be healed (James 5:16). Let’s love because love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8). Let’s be changed people and make a difference in the world for God’s glory and not let evil and darkness win again.

We have much to learn from you Scott. Thank you for your legacy to all of us. You are loved and we’ll see you soon enough.

Read Scott McCreedy’s Obituary in the News & Record


Remembering Scott McCreedy: Friend & Faithful Reader

Scott McCreedy left a mark on so many lives with his smile, genuine spirit, and servant’s heart. I met Scott in the 6th grade at Southwest Middle School in High Point, NC.

I remember taking classes with Scott, that he was a gifted soccer player, was one of the first guys in our class to grow facial hair, and that everyone liked Scott (especially the girls!).

I graduated from high school with him in 2000. From 2000-2009, I didn’t know Scott but when we reconnected on Facebook a few years ago, I found out he had served our country in the Navy as a rescue swimmer and I was so proud of him.

In July 2009, he sent a Facebook message to me out of the blue that I had saved. Here’s what it said:

Thanks.

Hey Samantha,

I just wanted to let you know that I am really enjoying reading your Blogs… I am going through a tough transition in my life and your thoughts/words are really helpful… thanks and god bless…. keep reaching out, there are alot out there who need it.

Best for you and your family,

Scott

I didn’t know Scott was reading my blog and ironically, I was going through a time where I wanted to quit blogging. His note encouraged me to keep pressing on and that God was speaking to his heart. Just a few weeks ago, he “liked” a new Facebook page I had created and a quote I posted by A.W. Tozer. I was very appreciative of his continued support and encouragement with my writing.

That was the last I really “heard” from him and yesterday I found out the shocking news that he had taken his life. I had trouble sleeping last night and my heart just breaks again today. My husband has been helping me process it all.

Scott’s father wrote a very thoughtful post on Facebook explaining Scott’s struggle with depression and his request that we pray for God’s mercy and love. I appreciated that his father took the time to share his heart. It helped bring peace to my heart.

Many people I know battle with depression, anxiety, and hopelessness on a daily basis. I have dealt with some anxiety and depression (postpartum) after having my second child. No one ever fully knows a person’s situation or struggle and the darkness they feel. I think it’s important to be compassionate and not judgmental towards those who are experiencing such inner turmoil and pain.

I am thankful that on the cross, Jesus crushed sin and death once and for all and that today, our ultimate hope is in Him. The historical resurrection of Christ is our present hope that Jesus will fulfill his promises in the future when he will heal the hurting hearts and bring life to those who love and trust in Him.

I believe that Scott is with His Savior and that all his tears and pain have been wiped away. My heart is sad because his life has been cut short, but I’m looking forward to when we will all experience a fullness and an abundance to life that none of us have yet seen or known.

We love you Scott and you will be missed greatly.

** Additional resources if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one:

Coping with Death and Grief- Focus on the Family article

What Happens When You Die? John Piper Audio Sermon and article

A Christian Perspective on Grief– audio

Take Heart (He has overcome the world)

My heart has been heavy since hearing about the death of 28-year-old pastor, Clint Dobson, who was killed in his church office last week. It happened about 30 min. away from where I live. Yesterday while I was walking my kids around campus of the seminary my husband attends, I kept thinking about Clint and the brevity of life.

As a believer in Christ living in a fallen world, I’m not guaranteed that good things will happen or that I will live to see the next day. This truth has humbled me and last night I was encouraged by Jesus’ words in John:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

Jesus’ body was about to be broken and his blood would be poured out for all the world to see, but he would soon defeat sin and death once and for all. He prepares the disciples ahead of time to take heart. His death and resurrection would change the world so much that they would have to scatter because their very lives would be in danger as followers of Christ.

John MacArthur says, “Through His impending death, He rendered the world’s opposition null and void. While the world continues to attack His people, such attacks fall harmlessly, for Christ’s victory has already accomplished a smashing defeat of the whole evil rebellious system.”

Trials, tribulation, pain and suffering would surely come the disciples’ way, but it would be okay because God had already won. Even though they would be scattered from persecution and other forms of evil, Jesus would be with them. Their hope was that they could persevere and endure until the end.

And this is our same hope today.

Although I wish we could, we can’t escape trouble in our lives and in this world. But we can trust that God has already overcome the world and will continue to overcome it. He isn’t sitting idle on his throne. He will bring justice in his perfect timing.

While my heart still breaks for Clint Dobson and his wife Laura and his family, I have found a peace knowing that he died faithfully serving the Lord and he’s finally where he was created to be, where pain and suffering does not exist.

Michael Jackson’s Dash

the-jackson-5.0.0.0x0.432x355.jpegMichael Jackson’s Thriller album was released the year I was born (1982) and it was in my elementary years in South Carolina that the king of Pop ruled the world. In the third grade, I remember dancing with my friends to the songs “Black or White”, “Billie Jean”, and “Beat It.” I remember the lines and beats to this day. I remember the particular inappropriate, awkward move that he displayed on stage once… that my classmates would try and imitate! (you know what I’m talking about!)

Regardless of the good and bad in his life, I remember Michael during my childhood so those were good memories of him for me. I lost track of him completely after that and I didn’t care much about him. Today, I’m amazed at how for so long, not much was said about him but all of the sudden since his death, the world is texting, twittering, emailing, and calling all those they know in shock. And I don’t know if it’s just because of his unmatchable talent, or how we associate our memories with his music. It takes us back.

The one thing I noticed about his death yesterday is the dash between 1958-2009. A simple dash yet so critical. The dash represents his life and what was done in that time. The dash compared to eternity is so tiny, like an ant in a mountain of sand. I thought about my life and that some day I too will have a dash- whether I want one or not! God’s word says that every man has his appointed time to die. We cannot ignore the reality that death will come to us too one day. We cannot ignore the reality of heaven and hell and the consequence if we do not choose to accept Jesus Christ, God’s son as our personal Lord and Savior. How we live on earth does impact us when we die.

I don’t know where Michael truly is now, only God does.

But because of the seriousness that’s involved in his dash, I’ll never forget the day the king of Pop died.

Remembering Dr. Jerry Falwell

Today marks the one year anniversary of Dr. Falwell’s death. It’s so hard to believe one year has already gone by. I remember the funeral like it was yesterday. Jeremiah and I flew from TX to VA. We were interviewed twice by reporters in Lynchburg and for CNN. It was such a surreal time and so hard to grasp the reality. We were in shock for several weeks. Still today, it’s hard to believe.

Dr. Falwell’s legacy will continue on in our hearts just as I told CNN. He founded Liberty University with the purpose of raising up Champions for Christ. He had a mission to fulfill on this earth and he accomplished more in a lifetime than a person could in one year. I really got to know Dr. Falwell better when Jeremiah took care of him in the hospital in March 2005. Jeremiah was his nurse. They would watch LU basketball together and Jeremiah would bring him hot chocolate at his request. For a seminary class assignment, I was able to go up to his room and interview him (we still have the recording). I saw him in his hospital gown with his wife, Masel. He was the first to say he would marry me and Jeremiah. We took him up on his offer and in December he married us.

He remembered our names where we were from and he always had an encouraging word. He truly loved people and those who rubbed shoulders with him the most, knew he did. He was a man of great faith and inspired multitudes, many of which we have no idea. He inspired my entire family and my Dad in his new faith. He invested in his family, college students, Liberty University, Thomas Road, the Liberty Godparent home, politics and so much more. My college experience was what it was because of his influence. Liberty changed my life and changed countless of my friends’ lives.

What a joy to know today that he is with Jesus- with the One we’ve all been waiting for. He is missed greatly, but his legacy will continue on in the hearts of those who really knew him. Thank you, God, for using Dr. Falwell in my life. How has Dr. Falwell influenced yours?

All Flowers Fade

Flowers fade, as does the glory of man. Within each season, brings unexpected changes, trials, and joys. It has been my prayer that I would wear, within each day, wisdom like a necklace; like a tablet written upon my heart.

Jonathan Edwards said in one of his resolutions: “Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die” (#17). It is appointed once that man will die. In the midst of this ever changing world in which I can barely keep up, I am resolved, like Edwards, to live as Christ would have me live my life. To live without regrets or “what ifs.” By God’s grace alone, I believe this is attainable.

When my flower fades, I long to hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

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