It was two days after we found out about the deaths of my brother and sister-in-law when my dad, daughter, and I hopped on a flight to Anchorage, Alaska.
We arrived at our hotel in the middle of the night, the frigid darkness mirroring our grieving hearts.
And yet, the favor of the Lord rested upon us.
My dad explained to the hotel staff the unfortunate reason for our stay. From this point on, everyone we came in contact with made it their mission to lighten our heavy burden.
The morning desk clerk, Stephanie had read in the newspaper about the tragic accident that took Scott and Dawn’s lives. When my dad explained we were worried that Dawn’s two small dogs might be trapped alone in their cabin in Talkeetna (nearly 100 miles away), Stephanie said she had an idea.
Stephanie reached out to prior guests, the Shockey family, who owned dogs and were now renting a place in a small town somewhat near Scott and Dawn’s cabin.
What were the odds? This was not a coincidence.
We knew without a doubt, the Lord was at work.
Sheila Shockey phoned my dad and told him that she and her family would be happy to drive to the cabin to see if the dogs were there and even care for them if needed. At this point, it had been over a week with no food or water and outside temperatures dipping below zero.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12
While the Shockeys were on their way to the cabin, we received word that local Animal Control had broken the door jam of the cabin and rescued the dogs. What a relief! The dogs were safe. But now the cabin wasn’t secure. Not a good thing in the dead of winter in Alaska. Sheila assured us that not only would they go check on the cabin, but that her husband (a carpenter) would fix the door.
The cabin sits on seven acres along with another small cabin. It was Scott and Dawn’s dream to have rental cabins and RV hook-ups for vacationers. Everything was falling into place before the horrific accident. We were relieved, to say the least, for these virtual strangers.
Who were these strangers so willing to help us?
The Shockeys continued to check on us as we took our first few days to go through the gutwrenching ordeal of saying our goodbyes at the mortuary. By Monday, Dawn’s brother Lee had arrived and we made the hundred-mile icy trek to the cabin, passing the very spot of the accident that stole Scott and Dawn from us.
Sheila had agreed to meet us after we checked on the cabin. She said her family would be willing to help us with the dogs. Dawn’s cousin in Colorado wanted the dogs, so we needed to get them to the vet and then on a plane. Lee gave Sheila some money and she agreed to do the rest.
A text message from Sheila stated:
I love being able to demonstrate to my kids what kindness is.
As if this wasn’t enough, Sheila informed us they would continue to help us during our time in Alaska. As we spoke, she shared how they had just recently moved from Washington because they had a dream of owning a property like my brother’s. In fact, they had already purchased property to build their home. They had their sites on a piece of property to start their business, but it didn’t work out. With a gleam in her eyes, Sheila said,
“I don’t think our meeting is by chance.”
Sheila went on to tell us how Scott and Dawn’s property was exactly what they’d been looking for—everything from the amount of land to the cabins, and even the name of the street which Dawn had chosen: Dragon Fly Hollow.
We were able to leave Alaska and head home in the peace of knowing the Shockey family was going to check on the cabin for us. It would be wonderful if Scott and Dawn’s dream will continue through this truly special family. But the fact is, we must get through all of the complicated business of settling the affairs after a couple dies.
The Lord had so carefully choreographed the smallest of details during our time in Alaska, so we are hopeful.
God used the Shockey family to bring us not only tangible help during our time of need but the assurance that He is present and working on our behalf. God has also used so many others. There have been cards, meals, messages, and literally thousands lifting us up in prayer.
We are truly blessed!
But still, grief is a tricky thing. It rears its ugly head at the most inopportune times.
And yet, I have set my heart on grieving well.
I can only do so by drawing strength from my Father in Heaven. God has been teaching me lessons through this most difficult process and one way I can grieve well is to share them with others (See my first post “Grieving Well”).
As I continue to navigate the rollercoaster ride of grief, I will:
- Reflect on how the Lord’s presence has sustained my family and give thanks.
- Share with others about God’s goodness.
- Show kindness the way the Shockey family did for mine.
- Be available to others who are also experiencing grief and loss.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:4
It is my hope that this post will help bring comfort to those of you who are mourning. My friend, if you are currently experiencing a season of grief and loss, I pray you will run to the true source of peace, comfort, hope, and love found in our Lord Jesus. Only through Him can we grieve well.
Let me know how I can be praying for you.
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