One Year Ago Today

Kevin3I woke up this morning with snapshots from one year ago today running through my mind.

The phone call on that fateful Monday morning. My mom’s voice, tearful and frantic, on the other end. “Kevin has been in an accident and we don’t know how bad it is. Cher and Daddy are on the way to him at Vanderbilt. Mandy…pray.”

Trying to throw on clothes while intermittently throwing myself on the floor before God to beg, to beseech, to humbly ask my Heavenly Father to spare my brother-in-law’s life. “He has two little girls, God. He has two little girls. They need him. They need their daddy…”

Sitting with my mom, hands clasped, as my dad explained on speaker phone, his voice breaking, that the doctors were going to have to remove Kevin’s leg to save his life. Remove his leg. His leg. My mom and I falling to our knees on the floor at the news. His leg, Lord. His leg. My God. Oh, God…no. No. No…

Holding my mom as she sobbed, listening to my dad choke on his own words as he tried to comfort us both. My dad was crying. My daddy, who I’ve only seen cry a handful of times in my life….

Then, suddenly…a supernatural strength. The straightening of my spine. The setting of my face like flint. The peace that surpassed all understanding. The tears stopped. The calm fell. As my mom wept in my arms, I felt God whisper: “I’m here. I’m with Kevin. I’m with all of you. I will never leave or forsake any of you. Trust me. Trust me. Trust me.” And I did. It’s funny, in 17 years of being a Christ follower, and hundreds of recitations of the scripture “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness,” it wasn’t until all strength was gone, taken, snuffed out in a moment of heartbreaking loss…that I fully grasped those words. We are weak, God…so weak. So pitifully human. I don’t know if we, as a family, can rise to the challenge of this.” And He whispered: “You’re right, Mandy, you can’t…but I CAN…”

Sitting my nieces down, eight and twelve, and telling them with as much positivity as I could muster that daddy had been in an accident and wouldn’t be coming home tonight. And neither would mommy because she had to be with daddy. Watching their sweet little smiles crumble into heart-wrenching sobs as they asked: “Is daddy going to die?”

Going to my sister’s house and seeing the roast simmering in the crock pot…Kevin5ready for a family dinner that would never happen now.  Folding Kevin’s laundry and feeling my breath catch as I fold his left sock and Emma taking her daddy’s socks and putting them on her own feet to feel closer to him.

Watching my sister explain the full situation to Emma and Olivia… “Daddy’s leg was hurt really badly. It’s going to look a little different now.” And seeing understanding finally dawn on their sweet, sad faces as Olivia looked up at her mom and asked in a quivering voice: “Is daddy going to have a bionic leg?”

The outpouring of love from my sister’s friends, her church, her coworkers, my dad’s family, total strangers. A Chick Fil A employee leaning out the window at the drive-through and offering to pray for us…my niece’s best friend giving her a book called “My Dad the Superhero” about a daddy with a prosthetic leg…a friend of my sister’s showing up to mow the yard without being asked…a friend of mine going in search of a new microwave because my sister’s broke and we need fast, easy meals…the list goes on and on and on…

Taking the girls to see their daddy for the first time after his accident and seeing the emotion on Kevin’s face as he embraced his babies. Watching the looks of relief spread across their faces as they saw that their daddy was still their daddy. (“I think it’s kinda cool that Daddy’s going to have a bionic leg,” they say.)

Kevin4The grace and courage with which Kevin has handled his new situation…perhaps the greatest grace and courage I’ve ever seen. The loving, nurturing, protective, brave, constant vigil my sister held by her husband’s bedside…captured beautifully in this candid shot I took of them as she crawled up in his bed to lie next to him. A living, breathing illustration of “in sickness and in health.” There’s a song that says “I want a love like Johnny and June”…well, I want a love like Cher and Kevin.

The phrase that kept going through my mind over and over during that first week of heartbreak and grace was “Jesus wept.” I think He wanted to remind me that it’s okay for us to weep, too. To mourn. To grieve. But also to rejoice that we still have Kevin here with us. But for the grace of God, this could have all gone very differently. There have been so many God reminders over this past year…testimonies and touchstones…to let us know that He’s always here, that He’s present in our pain, that He hears and sees and feels right along with us. And I think that’s really all we can ask for: A Savior that doesn’t stand back and watch our suffering, but One that gets down in the midst of it with us.

Life changed forever for my brother in law 365 days ago. It changed forever for my family 365 days ago.

But God didn’t change.

He never has.

He never will.

So we cling to that and we carry on.







25 Responses to “ One Year Ago Today ”

  1. De
    March 14, 2016

    Thanking God for the life that still remains and knowing that we are going to hear miraculous stories of how Kevin (and Cher!) face this difficult situation! The Lord uses ALL things in our life to show us His magnificent LOVE for us and I am sure that Kevin is going to walk that out in a way that brings Him all the glory!!
    Blessings and prayers to you and your family!

  2. March 14, 2016

    Prayers going up for your family.

  3. Allen Hale
    March 14, 2016

    There is nothing surprising about this wonderful, spirit-filled woman’s beautifully written words. I know, she’s one of the loves of my life. She’s my daughter.

    • Mandy Hale
      March 14, 2016

      I love you, daddy.

    • Lucy Calvillo
      March 14, 2016

      She’s who she is in part by having a father like you. She’s lucky! Prayers, love and light to your family

    • Michele
      March 14, 2016

      You are blessed that God gave you such a beautiful Angel to call your daughter. Her presence, her words, her beauty and her books have saved many and she doesn’t even know it. I am one of those people so I can attest. Although I am not single by choice (I lost the love of my life to cancer in May) her book “Beautiful Uncertainty” and Jesus has helped me tremendously with my loss. May God continue to bless you and your family.

    • March 18, 2016

      Ahhh…So sweet! Mandy is blessed to have a daddy that admires and loves her this much to sounded from the rooftop on cyberspace. I had one too and he’s gone, but still feel his presence.

  4. Suzanne
    March 14, 2016

    Oh my word Mandy… Such a beautiful post!!! I read most of it with tears streaming down my face, so I’ll probably have to reread it again later to make sure I didn’t miss anything… But, WOW…. Watching children deal with the death or severe injury of a loved one is so heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time… Last month at my aunt’s funeral, I watched one of my nieces embrace one of her cousins right in front of me, and both break down sobbing while they clung to each other… I felt like my heart broke into a million tiny pieces… We want to spare them from pain and hope they don’t have to experience loss in their lives – at least, not until they’re much older… But their resiliency and strength is inspiring! So wonderful that your nieces still have their father and think it’s “cool” that he’ll have a bionic leg… ☺️ Prayers will certainly continue for all of you… It’s obvious that God has blessed all of you with so much strength & Grace already and has been with all of you through it all…. I know He will continue to comfort you and provide for you….
    {{{ HUGS }}}

  5. Terri Hale
    March 14, 2016

    Beautiful Mandy! Told as only you can tell it. Mom

  6. March 14, 2016

    Life changes sometimes. But God’s love and grace sustain us. Thank you for sharing this sad, yet joyous post. My prayers continue for Kevin and his family. Praying God his life was spared.

  7. Amy
    March 14, 2016

    What a story…tears were streaming down my face as I was reading this. Your faith and strength are truly inspiring, especially during such a difficult time. Keeping your family in my prayers.

  8. March 14, 2016

    You and your family are in my prayers.
    I also wanted to share with you that this post encouraged me so much. I love how God knows what we need to read, hear and experience just to show us that He cares for us deeply. Last Monday my mom had another stroke. I trust God with everything in me, but toward the end of that week last week…things got really hard. I felt so much pressure from family and other obligations to care for my mom and two younger sisters. I am only 28 years old and I am just now getting my own life together. Now that I have full custody of my sisters I have no idea what I am doing. When our mom had the stroke last week, I didn’t know how to feel. I’m hurting and angry at the same time. I feel lost and so confused. I’m ahamed because I feel this way, but reading your post today reminded of “God’s grace being sufficient”. It is actually one of my favorite passages of scripture. I need to keep this in my heart as I Continue to grow through this season of my life. And just as things could have gone an entirely different way on last week for you and your family, whereas, you all could have been grieving a loss of your brother in love; I,too could have been saying the same thing. God in His mercy allowed my mom to see her 47th birthday on yesterday.

    May God continue to use you to minister and touch the lives of women and men across the world.

    -Dom Addison

  9. Canya
    March 14, 2016

    On March 2 (my birthday) my friend of 20 years passed away unexpectedly. I did a great job of hiding my emotions! Exactly one week later I was thinking…hmmm…I haven’t received a tweet from #TheSingleWoman lately. Right on time your tweet came through reminding me that even Jesus wept. The tears began to flow as did a sense of relief and peace. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Thank you for your honesty as you navigate this thing called life. I pray for continued healing and peace that surpasses all understanding for your entire family.

  10. March 14, 2016

    Praise the Lord for God’s provision in times of trouble. I thank God that your brother-in-law is safe and that your family is surrounded by so much God-given love and support. Bless you.

  11. Kelly L
    March 15, 2016

    So much love for your family during this time. My prayers and thoughts are with you all. Thank you for sharing this personal story of beauty. May God be with you all in the days ahead as Kevin’s leg mends and he learns to cope as well as all of you. I’ll never forget how God too gave me peace after dad was placed in hospice. I had been a mess that night but late that nighr, early morning I felt a peace that everything was going to be alright. He went to be with the Lord that morning and was no longer suffering. Still I remember that peace.

  12. Jocelyn M.
    March 15, 2016

    I went through a very similar situation just three weeks ago. My younger brother, with three small children of his own (ages 6, 4 and 1), was involved in a roll over car accident and was in the hospital for over a week. While he did get to keep his leg, it will never be the same as it was with the addition of 15 screws and two plates. I have never prayed more fervently than I did in that time; I prayed for health, I prayed for healing and I prayed with absolute gratitude for allowing us more time with my brother. It is by no means an easy time and I continue to pray for my brother and his small family as they face the aftermath of the accident, as I will pray for you and your family.

    Wishing you all love, healing and continued strength.

  13. Sandra
    March 15, 2016

    Oh my goodness Mandy, what courage, love and strength your beautiful family is exuding during this tough time, our prayers are with all of you… Gods goodness will prevail! Thinking of you

  14. Wondering
    March 15, 2016

    Well, I knew there was a reason I held onto this email with this post until I could read it after work. I didn’t know the reason, but God did. You have glorified God over and over and over, Mandy, with your sharings; and here it is again. What am amazing “story”…how vividly in such a short amount of time did it help me to “get to know” you a little more and some of your family (you let us SHARE in that…wow)…and just how you write…spectacular (yeah, the sort of technical part of it…but you deserve the compliment! As God gets the glory…). Thank you for this…and SO many blessings of Love, Peace, Joy, Kindness…to your family. Obviously it’s already there…I just pray more and more and more and. more…. In His Love (and in much appreciation), Your sister in Jesus, Terri

  15. Danielle Rogers
    March 15, 2016

    Beautifully written Mandy!

    I’m standing with you and your beautiful family!

    I love you MUCH!

  16. Jonelle
    March 17, 2016

    The message is so true but the pain is also real but we have a real God to get us thru our pain and the will to live on!!! Great mastery of words! Keep it up and the love keeps on, too.

  17. Jessica
    March 17, 2016

    Praying for Kevin and your whole family. I thank God he’s still here(although different physically) and will have a chance to make many more memories with his family. God bless you all!

  18. Marilyn
    March 19, 2016

    Ok. So I first read and responded to your post about a change happening in you and your blog. I just now have read this post telling us about your brother in law.
    I hope that you will receive what I say with the sincerity and tenderness in which it is offered. In 2005 after an accident, my dog who was not yet 2 yrs old, had her right leg removed.

    Why do I tell you this about a dog, you ask? Here’s why: First….she is my only child and my heart. But that offers you nothing. It is what we have gained over the years, because of that loss of limb, that I tell you.
    Yes, the physical therapy is grueling. The doctor visits – never ending, but crucial, chiropractic adjustments, the lifestyle change…It is all going to be very trying and will, at times, take a toll on each of you.
    But the GIFTS, the BLESSINGS that have come our way through this “loss” has been incredibly humbling. Through this most challenging of times, your family is going to come through this and you WILL look back upon your lives and you will be amazed and grateful…yes, grateful that He chose to give this blessing to you.
    Your nieces will learn gratefulness, determination, perseverance, resilience and they may get to know their father AND their mother and even one another, in a deeper, more meaningful way than they may have otherwise. God, in His infinite wisdom and abounding love, puts what we perceive as obstacles before us so that we can unite through Him and come to see things that otherwise may have gone by without a thought, without being appreciated. Sometimes we learn to really LIVE when we have to fight through something like this.
    You and your family will be in my prayers,

  19. Joanna
    April 20, 2016

    Thank you for sharing such a personal and significant part of your life, Mandy. You and your family are in my prayers tonight. Your beloved brother-in-law might have lost his real leg but the Lord is surely with him and will bless him with double joy & peace despite of the tragic phase that he and his family have to go through. Yes, Jesus wept. I cant remember from which book I’ve read it. Jesus wept even though He knew that He was gonna raise Lazarus to life…because in every moment of our lives, He is there with us. He knows that He will turn things around for the benefit and blessing of your brother-in-law (and your family, too) but at this time when you are in pain and struggle, He weeps with you. He is with you now. He is with you always. And the future ahead is bright for your brother-in-law and his family. Shalom! GOD’s peace cover each one of you in your family and may your hearts find rest in HIs Love. <3

  20. Patti
    June 26, 2016

    I’m so sorry to hear this Mandy. Gosh, what a really trying time for everyone. If we can just be helpful in real life. All I can do over the Internet is offer prayer and praise that he and the whole family recover from this emotional and physical trauma…it’s as if Satan is never going to stop until he gets what he wants. Us single and mature women find that “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” May you first receive rest during this stressful time and may this vacation be exactly what is needed for everyone. That place is beautiful!

  21. Ngoni
    March 23, 2018

    I hope Kevin is doing well and is adjusting to life or the new normal as people call it. It takes readjusting, but eventually things work out. I hope everything is o.k. with him and therapy and also with family life. Keep us updated on how things are going!

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Something wonderful is on the horizon
Turn Toward the Sun CoverLife doesn’t always look the way we want it to look. In Mandy’s upcoming book, Turn Toward the Sun: Releasing What If and Embracing What Is, you’ll find encouragement to live in the moment, sit with your experiences, and trust God with the unknown.
Preorder from Baker Book House for 40% off and free shipping!*
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*US shipping only