Growing up, I always dreamed of having a group of friends that I could just chat with and be myself. Friends I never had to worry about what they were thinking, because they spoke their mind. And friends who were always there to push me to be more like Christ. I dreamed of having coffee with them and talking for hours, while our kids played together. Little did I know that those friends would never be close enough for us to meet in person on a regular basis. In fact, my closest friends live hundreds of miles away and we’ve never met in real life.
Six days ago our little circle of friends was rocked to the core. Tuesday morning started out like any other morning. I worked behind the scenes on the blog staying off social media so as not to be distracted, while my husband helped the kids with their schoolwork. As the kids were eating lunch, I sat down to quickly catch up on emails before feeding the baby.
And then it happened.
I messaged one of our group about her night and asked if she was hard at work again, since we had been working late together the night before. Her response shook me to the core. I immediately went limp and couldn’t believe what I read. Our sweet friend, Mandy, has passed away in the night. She, her husband and two youngest children had perished in a fire that ravaged their home. Their two oldest children survived, along with their grandmother.
I was in shock.
I couldn’t catch my breath.
I sobbed. Uncontrollably.
For several hours, I cried.
My heart didn’t know what to think or how to handle the heartache.
I couldn’t focus for the entire day.
I struggled to even open my computer and work.
Then, my husband reached over and said, “If she was the woman of God you say she was, would she want you crying for her?” After I gave him a look of “how dare you?,” I realized he was right.
Mandy lived her faith out loud. She was not ashamed to speak God’s Word or Truth and she wrote it about openly on her blog, Worshipful Living. She was the 2nd mother to the older three children and new mother to their 10-month old Judah, whom they adopted at birth. She and I had many talks about being the mother of a newborn. We offered each other encouragement during the long nights and weary days and had a new bond with our boys born only 2 months apart.
Mandy and I worked together on several projects over the last year and while I never got to meet her in person, I felt we had a deeper connection. We were mothers. We were blogger-friends, but most importantly we were sisters in Christ. Our most important goal in life was to raise our children in the love and faith of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As a mother of young children, I hurt so much for the two left behind. However, I know the love Mandy poured in to them and the faith she lived out in front of them daily. I only pray I am half the mother she was. She may have only been a mother to those children for a little more than five years, but she loved them with her entire being. She took her job as mother very seriously and wanted them to know the love of Jesus above everything. It is in that, I find comfort. I know the two children have seen Jesus’ love and a faith-filled life lived for Him personally through Mandy.
Over the past week, her posts have been shared across Facebook and I see them everywhere I look. Even in her death, she is teaching me – challenging me – to be more Christ like. I just told one of our other friends that God did and still is doing mighty things through Mandy. For in her death, HIS name is made known. What a testimony!
Today, I am sitting at home and praying earnestly for the family as they lay the four of them to rest. While I grieve for the pain and heartache the two remaining children will have in the coming weeks, months and years, I also know we do not grieve as those who have no Hope. For we know we will see them again one day and what a day of rejoicing that will be!
As you can imagine, there are so many unexpected expenses for the family. If you feel led to give and help the family, their church has set up a fund for donations. You can visit their website and click the “give” button and designate your donation for The Kelly family. Another way you can help is by purchasing any of her products through her site, Worshipful Living. All proceeds will go directly to the family and help with expenses.