Monday, May 20, 2013

"None of us is promised tomorrow."

Yesterday, my church family took a devastating hit. On the wave of joy following the wedding of two of our young leaders tragedy struck. Saturday, Heather and Jordan were married. Sunday, they were involved in a car accident that took Jordan's life. There are no words for this kind of loss.

Jordan was a remarkable young man with a heart for God and a passion for young people. He was an intern at our church for youth and children. He was my youngest daughter's Sunday school teacher, he was a leader, mentor, and friend to my 3 older children. Jordan touched a lot of lives. I doubt there is a person under 18 in our church that Jordan has not affected.

Heather, and her beautiful, Godly family have served in our church as long as I can remember. If you've ever been to Connection Church you have undoubtedly been blessed, been touched by a Favazza. Sue (Heather's mother) heads up our children's ministry. She loves our children. She serves them, and us their parents. George (her father) is fabulously musically gifted, as is his brother Rich. If you've ever been to a service at our church chances are extremely good one or both of these brothers blessed you with their musical abilities. Both of them are gentle, genuine, generous men of God. Bridget, (Heather's aunt) Rich's wife blesses so many people with her gift of hospitality. She works quietly behind the scenes serving others, tirelessly, generously. Jen (Heather's aunt) and Josh (Jen's husband) also work with and teach, mentor our children. Josh is a faithful member of the children's ministries, of the drama team, he serves on our board. I know I'm missing someone, please don't be hurt if I did. Heather and her siblings have always been involved in our church. You'll find them watching children on Sunday mornings, acting as jr. counselors for camp, making themselves available wherever they are needed, whenever they can. In recent years Heather has asserted herself as a leader in our youth ministry. She has grown and blossomed into a beautiful young woman of God. She has a servant's heart. She shows faith and strength and grace so often to so many. My point being this: If you have been to our church, there is a member of their family who has touched your life in some way, whether you realized it or not.

Yesterday, my heart broke, shattered for Heather. I grieved and cried for Jordan's parents, for George and Sue, for Aunts and Uncles and Cousins... I grieved with my children in their loss, with the other young people  affected by this. I saw up close the ripple effect of grief in lives Jordan has touched, of those who love the Favazza family and have been blessed and loved by them.

We heard the news at the end of our service. Collectively the church gasped, immediately you heard the sounds of people crying. I looked around and throughout the church faces were covered with tears. There is a section in our sanctuary where our teenagers sit together as a group. We gathered there and surrounded those kids with prayers, hugs, tissues... The Favazza family began to arrive from wherever they were waiting to hear news of their loved ones. We prayed for Sue and George on their way to Heather, my God how we prayed and cried for Heather, we cried for our kids, we prayed for our church, we came together.

Dave, one of our pastors, took the initiative to speak to our kids. His words were direct, full of truth, full of guidance, and love for the grief of our youth. He cried with them. Our pastors, Rocky, Dave, Zac, Mikie and Al, whether it was deliberate or not, lined up against the wall like an honor guard, watching our children, watching the Favazza family, waiting to meet the need. There were no dry eyes for these men either. They stood, they watched, they waited, they prayed, they cried, they met the need.

A meal had been planned for a volunteer appreciation luncheon that was, of course, immediately cancelled. Lovingly, it became a meal for those who just needed to grieve and be with each other. People flocked to our kitchen to do whatever task they could. The food was set out, we all moved to the largest classroom. We ate together, or tried to, and we just stayed with each other. We stayed with the family and friends and kids who were touched by these young lives. A group went to Heather's home to clean, to take care of business, to bless that family in the only way they could, in a remarkably loving way.

There was so much love there, I could never tell it all here. I tell you without a doubt, the love of Jesus was evident, the presence of God was undeniably present there. I consider myself honored to be among such a group of remarkable loving people.

I'm sitting here today wondering what I can do for this family. For this beautiful young woman devastated by loss. I got nothing. I'm praying, I can't stop, every thought leads me back to her. I am making myself available.

Yesterday, the rumblings of "Why, God why?" were beginning to be heard. I know that it is natural to ask this question. It's a part of our beginning to accept the unacceptable. However, I am not asking "Why?" There is no point in it because there are no good answers. There are no answers that satisfy our grief. In fact there are simply no answers to the question "Why?" at all. It simply is. Today, I prefer to ask "What?" What can I do for this family? What can I do to honor Jordan, his life and work in the service of the Lord? What can I say to let my loved ones know how I love them? I prefer the question "What?" far above the question "Why?" Why gives me no hope, no direction, no plan. Of course, Heather and her family, and Jordan's family will ask "Why?" Their grief is obviously different than mine. I do not mean to suggest that anyone else should grieve as I do. I hope only to offer, even if to one grieving heart, an alternative question. An action option to your pain and grief.

It will take some time for recovery and healing to happen in the wake of this loss. I intend to take an active role, in any way I am asked, to help in the healing of Heather's grief. To assist her family while they hold her up until she stands on her own. To encourage my church family as they heal, and recover. We have all lost something. It is beyond sad. But we have hope in Christ.

Dave said something that I can't shake today. "None of us is promised tomorrow." He challenged us to live as Jordan had, sharing his faith with everyone he met. I need to share my faith with all of you. I don't do that as I believe I should. Fear stops me. How ridiculous. Fear? What do I have to fear? Nothing.

I believe that Jesus Christ is the one true son of God. I have accepted his sacrifice to cover my sin, and reconcile me to God. I didn't deserve that love. I still don't. But that's the beauty of it. People, society, our culture has twisted the simple truth of Christ's mission here. He didn't come to damn us to hell, he came to deliver us from it. He came in love for all of us. LOVE. LOVE. He gives us a choice and does not force us to follow Him. He loved me when I was ugly to the core. He loved me when I spit in His face and turned my back on Him. God is LOVE. Mercy... sweet blessed mercy was shown to me. Unconditional acceptance of the person I was, with all my garbage and sin, with all my mess... love and mercy. I strive to show others love and mercy. I fail almost daily. God still loves me. God still grants me mercy. I have hope. I have peace. Those are things I thought I may never see not so very long ago. How can I call you my friend, how can I say I care about you, if I keep this awesome gift, this indescribable love, to myself? I make myself a liar by not sharing it with you. I'm sorry for that.

We are not promised tomorrow. We are not promised so much as another breath. All we have is this moment. Use it wisely.


  1. Lovely post.

    I will never forget what happened yesterday.

    1. Christie, I saw God in the middle of devastation. I saw love in what could have easily been rage. Yesterday, I truly saw the "family" of God I've been given. Wow. They are beautiful. Thank you my friend, for being a part of that family.

  2. Very well said! I'm so incredibly heart broken for Heather and their families.

    1. Just like everyone who knows them, I want so badly to help ease their pain. I have nothing but words. I offer them to God. I offer them to Jordan's loved ones, most especially Heather, and I offer them to my friends. I think many of us were profoundly, permanently affected and changed yesterday. I can only pray it was for the good.

      Thanks for reading this Liz. Thank you for being a part of the dynamic that makes this "family" tick.

  3. No words. I love you Traci. "What" can I do for you?

    1. Oh Jon... here come the tears... thank you little brother. I should be asking you that. I pray you'll let me help you. I could not love you more.

  4. This is heart breaking and the last paragraph especially made me cry. You are so correct--there is no why to it. But deep down I do feel there are reasons for these awful things that we cannot conceive, and that good things can rise out of tragedy. I have seen it happen many, many times. These types of tragedies bring awakenings to those who are numb and basically sleep- walking through life. The best way to honor a lost loved one is to turn the pain into something good and powerful. You are doing that here Traci by spreading God's word and sharing the love with those who may feel unlovable. I feel so sad for this family and the tragedy they must now endure. The only thing that will buffer that pain is their faith, love, and support from their family, friends and the congregation. I hope one day when they are ready, you can share this heart felt post with them. This is truly an amazing tribute to this man and his family---and another reason why I appreciate the beautiful person you are. XO

    1. If you could have seen what I saw yesterday... Honestly, I don't know how anyone there could not have been moved.

      I really wasn't "close" to Jordan. But his life, his efforts, his devotion to Jesus and our children directly affects me. My children were touched by him, by Heather, we've all been loved by a member of this family. I simply can not stay silent. I hope to someday live a life that affects people, draws them to the Lord and helps them see past the twisted version of Christ the world portrays to what is really there. Love. I can not help but wonder, all be it selfish, will I have affected anyone for the glory of God?

      Oddly, in his death, this young man has become an inspiration to me.

      I thank you for your kind and encouraging words.

  5. My heartfelt condolences go out to Heather, both families and all those that have been affected by Jordon's sudden death. Words cannot explain such tragedies in life especially when it was completely unexpected.

    I admire how you and the whole church have come together at a time like this, as Heather and her family will need you all for support. And this support may take many years.

    All my life I have believed that tomorrow is not promised to me and every morning when I awake, I appreciate the extra day that I have been given, and like you said Traci, I do my best to 'use it wisely'.

  6. That's all we can do RPD. It's unfortunate it takes something this tragic to wake some of us from our sleep. Myself included.

    Thank you for your kind words. I'm confident, as awful as this is, that Heather will come out of it stronger on the other side. She has a very supportive family and lots of people who love her.