Wednesday, November 30, 2016

PB&J and Across the Miles

There are several things that just go together.  Peanut butter and jelly, biscuits and gravy, bacon and eggs, yin and yang all are examples.  Of course, there are more, but you get the point.  Today, I sit and look to see a few things and inspiration struck me again.

As I shared how I have felt over the last couple of days, I continue to be in awe of how God is moving.  Sadly, I'm still drained.  Emotionally, I have little left.  My daughter had to sit in class today and discuss this, all while probably crying through the whole class period.  My wife is ready to take her week off and head to Tennessee, simply because she feels helpless.  My son is in disbelief and can't imagine what Michael and Nick are going through.  Yet, emotion aside, I still have hope.

After a brief conversation with my dad, I became curious on how much of an impact Michael's story is making.  Yes, I assured him people know and are praying.  But until I saw it on paper (or blog) I couldn't believe myself.  God simply reminded me that he isn't about to break his promise of being with us as he stated in Matthew 18:20.  "Where 2 or 3 gather..."  I don't see anything about distance between, so maybe I'm taking this with a very broad stroke, but I say we have 2 or 3 (or more) gathered as we wait to hear more from Tennessee.  We wait to hear of a reunion.  But while we wait, lets rejoice in how well we go together, just like a good PB&J (or, despite how far apart we live).  Below is a list of cities that is rallying around the Reed family in prayer, and this is just what I know.

Gatlinbur, TN; Sevierville, TN; Pigeon Forge, TN; Knoxville, TN; Cosby, TN; Kodak, TN; Dickson, TN; Branson, MO; Cincinnati, OH; Phoenix, AZ, Yuma, AZ; Cheyenne, WY; North Myrtle Beach, SC; Stanwood, WA; Marysville, WA; Wonewoc, WI; Denver, CO; Eula, TX; Chancellorsville, VA; Fort Collins, CO; Arlington, WA; Harrington, KS; Glenrock, WY; Burns, WY; Kidjip, Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea; Yukon, OK; Abilene, TX; Jasper, AL; Seattle, WA; Oakman, AL; Boldo, AL; Fultondale, AL; Sumiton, AL; Hoover, AL; Thermopolis, WY; Rathdrum, ID; Chehalis, WA; Longmont, CO; Cody, WY; Salina, KS; Nashville, TN; Rapid City, SD; Wilmington, NC; El Dorado, KS; Wichita Falls, TX; Santa Fe Springs, CA; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Taos, NM; St. Louis, MO; Oak Grove, MO; Spring Hill, TN; and this is just that I know.  Now, add in  all 466 K-LOVE radio station cities across the US, the millions of households that watched NBC Nightly News, and CNN, read the NY Times, or stream these outlets, this world becomes very small.  A world that has become family because of word of mouth, and one viral video.

So, we are gathered.  I feel God in our presence.  I feel God lifting our spirits, giving us hope, comforting our souls, and providing our weary bodies rest.

I can't say it enough, but I will one more time.  Thank you!  Your love and support has provided my family and the Reed family more than these two simple words could explain.  We love you.  Until later.

Lost and Hope

This might be the hardest blog I've ever had to write.  I'm torn, my stomach in knots, and my heart in pieces.  My eyes have cried tears off and on for well over 24 hours.  I'm actually visualizing my heart looking a lot like Humpty Dumpty right now.  Yeah, I see it fresh fallen off the wall, in thousands of pieces.  But, I'm also seeing it having been put back together, not by horses or men, but by the King, and by the hope he provides.

Back in 2011 I met a man that found me on Facebook.  He was a nice guy, managed a band, worked hard, loved his family, loved music, loved talking and most importantly, loved God.  Michael Reed and I quickly formed a bond that has endured some really rocky moments for each of us personally and professionally.  We encouraged each other through those rough times.  From my cancer battle to some hardships at work, or his loss of job to his wifes addictions and illnesses, we were there for each other, and still are.  My family has vacationed in Tennessee with his family.  All of us have laughed together in person and over the phone.  We've also cried together, and prayed together.  Yes, they are no longer friends, they are family.

Then, yesterday happened.  I heard fear in his voice.  I sobbed with him, uncontrollably.  I had no words of comfort.  I have no understanding.  I want to, but I can't.  All I had was an ear, and an ability to pray.  So, I gave him an ear for just a few minutes, and prayed with him for a couple more.  And then just like that, he had to go.

His life was being ripped out from underneath his feet like a young aspiring kid magician tying to pull out the table cloth from under the dishes on the dining room table.  I could hear the crashing of everything around Michael.  His heart was crying out, and me, I was right there with him despite the miles apart.  His wife and daughters missing.  His house, burning.  The woods surrounding the house, engulfed in the worst forest fire in 100+ years in Eastern Tennessee.  It was all crashing.  I was going numb, he certainly had to be numb.

Fast forward to this morning, still weary from minimal sleep, I immediately checked for any update from Michael.  Nothing.  My heart still in pieces.  But, there was a new report featuring Michael and his story.  Knoxville news was interviewing him.  He shared pictures, begged for help, and again, shared his grief at the loss of his family.  They were still missing, 12 hours after he last talked to his wife.  All day long, I continued to check with limited information.  I wasn't alone in checking.  My phone was giving me notifications all day long with people seeking any information.  My family grew exponentially today, all anticipating a miracle.

Now, 24+ hours later, and the Reed family is still separated.  Michael has heard nothing from his wife, and has no idea where they may be.  His son is being a rock (Michael's words).  The story has become viral (2 Knoxville news stations,NBC Nightly News, CNN and others I don't know of) and thousands of people are now aware this family is separated.

Here in Cheyenne, my family is devastated.  My daughter is a mess, and cried throughout the day.  My wife has done the same.  Every post on Facebook receives immediate responses.  Our friends have adopted the Reed family as their own.  Our parents have done the same.  There is continual prayer.  In this midst of resigned helplessness, the words of encouragement and hope abound.  Words, they are making this easier, if that even makes sense.  Easier, because I see hope.  I see faith.  I see family.

Hope, it's how my Humpty shattered heart has been put back together.  Job 6:11 shows Job asking what strength he has to hope.  The book of Psalm is ripe with messages of hope.  But, it is in Ecclesiastes 9:4 that shows us, "Anyone living has hope..."  God is giving Michael hope, because he is alive.  There is a hope that his family will be reunited.  For me, hope is all I have, and yes, all I need.

Thank you, for your love, and your support.  On behalf of Michael, he thanks you as well.  God's family is amazing.