A Day of Gratitude

Sunday morning I awoke to tragic news here in my hometown of Kalamazoo. I may not have been born here in Michigan, but Kalamazoo is my home.

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“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NLT).

The night prior, a senseless act occurred and 6 people lost their lives. A 14 year old is currently fighting for her life. A man, known to his neighbors and friends as nice with no criminal background, went on a shooting spree.
My heart still aches this morning. Listing to B-93.7 on my way into work, the music was perfect to match the daunting mood. I had tears in my eyes on my drive in.
How could a senseless act like this occur? Why did it happen? What was the motive behind it? Though I understand that we may never know the rhyme or reason behind the violence that transpired, it’s a reminder to hold onto the ones you love a bit more tighter than the day prior.

Yesterday, I took my heavy heart to Saugatuck as an escape. An escape from the tragedy that hung heavy on my heart. I brought along my bubbly little boy and my sister. We had planned a day away, but it was so needed after the events that happened Saturday evening.

We drove to Oval Beach and walked out onto the ice. Braxton was so amazed by the scenery.

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The sun was shining, it was in the 40’s and I had great company surrounding me to take my mind off of the tragedy.

As a parent, every time you hear of a shooting, you cringe. You get even more protective of your child(ren) and spouse, and you can’t help but hold onto them a little longer and a little tighter.

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It helped knowing that we were far away from Kalamazoo in that moment as we stared off into the distance. I know that tragedy can occur anywhere and at any time, but for that moment, I wanted to imagine that we were untouchable.

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Braxton kept pointing off into the distance at the moving ice and water. He was so transfixed on all of what Michigan’s beauty had to offer.

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We hung out down by the water for about a half hour before I fell into the water–just a little bit, thank goodness for Muck boots. We headed back up to our car and met Carrie, Ashley and my best friend since middle school.

We headed into downtown to meet my Step-Mom for breakfast and a morning of shooting pictures and educating myself about Spice Merchants.

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We ate breakfast at a little restaurant and we spoke briefly of the shooting in Kalamazoo. We were just so happy that our loved ones were safe, but still had a huge sadness weighing on us knowing that others weren’t as fortunate.

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The morning and afternoon spent with some of my loved ones was the perfect start of a sad day.

Sunday, I was grateful for a few hours of peace and family time. A day of gratitude!

I’ve found over the years that when tragedy strikes, it’s important to be there for your loved ones as much as possible. More importantly it’s a haunting reminder that we should hold our loved ones close-every day, not just when tragedy strikes in our backyards. Tragedy can strike at anytime and anyplace. It doesn’t discriminate. Hold your loved ones close every night. Don’t go to sleep angry at your spouse. Don’t hold grudges. Tell your loved ones each and every day that you love them, because sadly, we don’t know when it might be the last time they hear those words.

Take comfort in knowing that God has bigger plans for those that lost their lives. He does not condone violence, and he certainly doesn’t make the suffering suffer more. He pulls them into him, comforts them and loves them.

God does hear the cries of those who suffer in the aftermath of this devastating tragedy. The Lord God is close to the brokenhearted, to those crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). He is our refuge in times of trouble (Psalm 59:16).

As for this Monday morning, I will pray a little prayer for Kalamazoo. My heart aches and my mind keeps thinking of the victims and their families. I pray they find comfort and so much love from those around them.

#staystrong #kalamazoostrong #cometogetherinlove #endtheviolence

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