God has funny ways of working in peoples’ lives. How is it that He can over and over again do the very thing we don’t want Him to do, and then we end up realizing how wise, how loving, how wonderful He is when He does it anyway?
I didn’t want God to take Nathan. When I was 17, I woke up in the middle of the night with a song in my head. It felt like God was singing this song, this lullabye, over me as I slept. I quickly got up and wrote it down. It came all in one piece, in 5 minutes or so. I sang it over and over, imagining God singing it over me, imagining singing it over my family one day. A few months later, I was singing it one night when I suddenly envisioned singing it over my husband’s casket. I was 17, unmarried, Nate wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye. But I saw it so vividly, I remember crying about it that night. I didn’t sing it for awhile after that, and as time went on I forgot about that night. When Nate and I were engaged, Nate had food poisoning one time and got sick as a dog. He wanted me to sing to him. So, I remembered God’s lullabye for my family, and, seeing as I was engaged to him and wanted him to be my family so earnestly, I sang it over him while he was sick. Later, when I was pregnant, I sang it everyday to little Jack as he was inside of me, and, later still, when he was a little newborn baby. The night that they found Nate, they brought him back to me at his dad’s house. We sat in the back of a truck, and I held him like I had when he was sick and many other times, and I sang God’s lullabye for my family over him. As I sang, I remembered how I had envisioned one lonely night singing that song over my husband’s casket 7 years before. And I knew then, holding my stilled husband, that God had planned this for me from the beginning. But as I sang, I also heard the words I was singing, and it was as if God was singing over me right then. These are the words He sang over me:

In the beginning
Before there was time
I felt your heart beat
And I loved you then
And I love you still
I have and always will
And I don’t ever want to leave
I just want you here with me
Could you love me
Half as much as I love you?
I’d do anything for you
Just let me love you as I do
All I ask is that you mean it
When you say to me
That you love me.

And I don’t ever want to leave
I just want you here with me
Could you love me
Half as much as I love you?
I’d do anything for you
Just let me love you like I do
And no matter what life brings
I will always be.
And I’ll love you.
And I’ll love you.
I love you.
I love you.

I think I sang “I love you” a hundred times, over and over. Me singing it to my love, and God singing it over me.
I don’t think Nate thought he was ready to die yet, either. One week before his death, he had held a woman who had been in a bad carwreck as she lay dying. He came home upset and contemplative before me. I sat quietly at his feet while he sat on the bed with his hand laid on Jack’s head, and tears were streaming down his face.
“What are you thinking of, Nate?”
Quiet. Whispered, “You and Jack.”
I’m sure he didn’t want to leave us. But he also didn’t know what God truly had in store for him in Heaven, or for us here on earth.
All I know is, I couldn’t see it then, but his life has had a ripple effect. It started out small, just with his friends, but then it spread all around to people who never knew him, in places he had never been. Inspiration. A call to people to live life to the fullest. Don’t worry about insignificant things. Life it too short! Love your family and your friends. They are your legacy. Love, love in God’s name. He’s the one who justifies the unjust, comforts the grieving, lifts up the humble. He is the purpose of life. Nathan is a ripple effect. Thus comes the name of my blog here. Maybe, just maybe, Nate’s story, my story, Jack’s story, spreads life even farther. In its sadness. In its joy. In its pride. In its humility.
And so, for Nate, if anyone would like to tell a story about him, about the ripple effect his life has had, please leave a comment on it here. Doesn’t matter if you never knew him…maybe that’s better. Maybe you know me, maybe you don’t. Maybe you came across this blog by googling it or something. Maybe this post is a year old, and no one’s commented on it in ages. Doesn’t matter. I’d like for you to tell us. It’s all part of a ripple effect that you also carry on in your own life.
I love you, Nathan. You, in your life, made me a true woman. A woman who knew what it was to love someone more than herself. To know what it was to sacrifice. In your death, you made me realize how precious a gift is family, friendship, love. You made me realize not to hold on to things too dearly that will fade, but to push on, looking to what truly awaits me after my short breath of life has ended. Heaven. But my ripples will carry on down here. Thank you, darling, for the ripples that went through this heart.
Thank you, God.

mountain.jpg

25 Responses to “The Ripple Effect”

  1. Mazz Says:

    I am encouraged. Thank you for sharing. I came across your blog from a good friend who is dealing with her brother’s suicide.
    She was very moved by your story:
    http://web.mac.com/joelflory/iWeb/Peet%26Cara%26Joel/Blog/B67D3762-3564-4674-9651-A8B98A96559C.html

  2. rbmarler Says:

    Lauren – thank you for the ‘add’ to your Blogroll…I’m honored. You have an amazing site, and as a husband and father of (3), the stories of you and your husband’s relationship move me!!

    My wife and I experienced a whirlwind romance such as your’s, and have enjoyed (8) amazing years together. Thank you for reminding me life is short and quick, and God’s mercy is the only reason we are here each day.

    Peace – Brandon
    pourmesomesoul.wordpress.com

  3. cool dad Says:

    I just read this again and it doesn’t get any less devastatingly beautiful. God is good.

  4. Casey Says:

    Lauren, your heart and ability to write are beautiful. Like Mazz above, I read your story from our friend’s link. I hate tragedy, and devastation, but it has an interesting way of defining us like nothing else can.

    I’m glad you are the Lord’s. Those tattoos are a really beautiful, like Nate, I’ve always loved that verse. Those photos make my husband and I (who’ve been married the almost as long as you) want to get them too.

    We live in Washington, so if you move here, holler! Glad that God is blessing you and keeping you close as you grieve,
    your sister,
    Casey

  5. jodanabt Says:

    Hello, precious one.

    I was at a women’s retreat yesterday and a woman noticed my name tag and chased me down. Her name is Donna. She used to rent our house before we bought it. Her son was one of the rescue workers that searched for Nathan. She said they have prayed for our family each time they’ve driven past Covenant Creek.

    I shared with her about your walk with Nathan the night before, about that beautiful, sad morning when we scattered his ashes. About the amazing ways God has used great loss to deliver overwhelming blessing.

    She shared that learning of Nathan’s life had such an impact on her rescue-worker son, and how the stories of our faith as a family have influenced her. We were both tearful and sad, yet rejoicing at the incomprehensible ways of God.

    I’m am grateful when people remember Nathan to me. I am awed how God continues to use Nathan’s life and death to impact people. I am blown away at the testimony He has given me that I can speak through tears with such passion of God’s abundance and goodness and faithfulness.

    Never underestimate the power of One Life.

    I love you.


  6. I stumbled across your site. You are a courageous woman. Thank you for sharing.

    Megan

  7. terry rush Says:

    Lauren,

    I am one of those admiring strangers you wouldn’t know. Your friend, Laura, told me to look at this blog. She knew it would melt me down and break me open….again. I thank her for that.

    You, my friend, look just like God. You know more than others how empty and hurt He felt as He had to part ways with His beloved.

    Your ripple effect seems clear it began before you were. From a distance be assured many of us are blessed by His perpetual singing over you.

    With love today,
    Terry


  8. I found your blog from a mention of it on Terry Rush’s blog. Thanks for sharing the inspiring story of your family!

  9. Leah Says:

    Lauren, I too am an admiring stranger. I am a friend of Laura, and Terry (above). I have had some struggles in my marriage, but some wonderful aha! moments in my faith. She was so inspired by your blog, and so, she emailed the link to me.

    I love to read about someone so mature in their thoughts. It helps my mind to open up more, and seek the real meaning of things.

    Thank you.

  10. Erica Says:

    What an wonderful, encouraging story. It will make me hug my husband harder tonight, look in his eyes and see anew the incredible man God has given me…to soak him in because I am not guaranteed even one more hour with him. Thank you so much for sharing.

  11. izitjo Says:

    I found your site from the message you left on my friend Kristy’s blog (www.southeastcountrywife.blogger.com). As you know, she lost her new husband of just 10 weeks on Easter Sunday. Right now she feels like her life is not life at all. There was no preparation, no time to start the family she’d dreamed of.

    While she can’t even think about tomorrow, I hope for her the ‘hope’ that you have come to now. Steve’s life has already had that same ‘effect’ your Nat’s did, but the ripples are mountainous at the epicenter – s I’m sure you understand. My heart breaks for her in the place she fights to stand.

    I’m so glad there’s someone, somewhere in the world, who has an inkling of what she might be going through. Even if all you can do is pray with us.

    God bless you and your son. Thanks for sharing your story. Your lullaby for your family is particularly precious and made me cry… again.

    Jo

  12. Nicole Says:

    I came like Jo from Kristy’s blog…
    I read some of your writtings and I am so impressed! You husband must be so proud of the way you are!
    Thank you for all the words and thoughts you share…

  13. sarah Says:

    Wow! there are no words I can say to you. You don’t know me and I honestly do not know how I came across your site. But your faith is so encouraging and nothing can move you from the place of believing Our God is Good, despite everything that may happen in this life you continue to sing about a God that loves his children. Thank you for that reminder.

  14. katie Says:

    Hi Lauren,
    I found your blog through a friend’s blogroll…when I read it the first time, I was amazed at the clarity of your writing in the midst of such a huge amount of pain. I have since revisited this site to read what you have to say…sorry to be so stalkerish.:)
    But I just wanted you to know that I read this and that Nate’s life has indirectly affected me through you.
    Obviously, I did not know Nate, but I can tell that he loved the Lord so much…look at how much life came from his death.
    One of the beautiful paradoxes of God.
    Thanks for writing this!

  15. Jenna Says:

    Lauren,
    I’ve visited your blog many times, but have somehow overlooked this section. Your family’s story continuously reminds me of God’s beauty, reminds me that God really does have a hope and a future for our lives, despite the emense pain we go through at times. Through your example, I’m encouraged to reach out my hand and believe in the hope that comes from our Lord, Jesus Christ…somehow, somewhere He is still present, loving me, He is good, and will work it all out…just trust. I love you, I love Jack, and Nathan will continue to inspire many, not only through the story of his life, but through his beautiful family.

    Jenna


  16. […] my Tuesday procrastination-celebration day has been soaked in tears.  (Read Lauren’s The Ripple Effect page to put an exclamation on that […]

  17. Dale Says:

    Lauren, I don’t want to creep you out, so I’m reluctant to write this. I assure you, I’m not a stalker, and I’m not trying to launch some weird internet romance. I’m a happily married man with 10 kids, a real job, and real problems, with a fairly healthy view on life, and strong faith in Christ. (Not that any of that means I’m not a creep.)

    As you can tell, though, I’ve been visiting your site and linking to it in my own posts, and I’ll be following up frequently. I apologize if I’ve said anything in reference to your blog or experience that seems trite – I’m confident I can’t adequately express the weight of it all.

    Your writing, the way you convey and respond to your experiences with Nate and Jack, with a strong but fragile heart, and with graciousness, authenticity, faith, and true love, strikes a chord in my soul. I am intrigued, touched, and stirred.

    No circumstances are really comparable, but we have suffered similar losses in our extended family. A few years ago, my sister-in-law, Meghan, was killed in an auto accident.

    I’ve thought, since then, that the best approach to our grief is to experience it fully and deeply. To embrace it completely, saying to God, “If I must go through this, I will endeavor to squeeze every drop of benefit for my life from this sorrow, knowing that you will use it in my life in some way that I cannot comprehend. I will cling to the grief with joy, trusting in your redemptive power, rather than push it away for the sake of easing my own pain.”

    As I’ve read your posts, I’ve seen that kind of respectful, and hopeful, mourning demonstrated.

    All that to say, you’re an inspiration, and the ripple effect is still active. I haven’t done so yet, but I look forward to hearing your music and sharing it with my family. I’m sure my kids will soon be singing your tunes.

    Thanks!
    Dale

  18. Lauren Says:

    Dear Lauren –

    Thank you so much for your courage, honesty, and willingness to be so beautifully vulnerable and faithful.

    As I’m certain you will not be surprised, I found your writing “by accident” today….or rather, I was led to it. Searching Google images for a ripple….now sitting here an hour later crying and thanking God for continuing to reveal connections in beautiful, serendipitous ways.

    How deeply interconnected we all are.
    I am so moved by your story and your love….it does indeed ripple outward.
    May you continue to find strength through this.

    Peace and love-
    Lauren

  19. justmetoyou Says:

    Hi Lauren,

    Just stumbled upon your blog and am crying and pondering grace. Thank you for sharing our story. May God continue to give you grace upon grace upon grace to love well, to grieve as it comes and to truly live.

    Erin


  20. Lauren,

    That song that Jesus sang to you all those years ago amazes me tonight as I read it. I am so touched by the way God has held your heart through all of this, and the way that you have truly let Him be your strength and comforter. He holds us and takes care of us! He really does! And your story tells that truth so profoundly.

    I definitely look forward to reading and learning more from you!

    Love!

    Annie :)

  21. Kelly Says:

    I stumbled upon your website tonight, from a friend’s blogroll (looking for any mutual friends). What I found, among many sweet blogs, were two that deeply touched me and reminded me of all that I have to be thankful for. The first was that of a wife and mother struggling to go on in life after losing a newborn, and the second was yours. I am reminded of the fleeting nature of life and the great privilege that is mine for a while to love and cherish my dear husband, our children and the little one not yet in our arms, but growing. DH and I had a disagreement over the phone…I wanted to fume when he came home, but all I could do after reading your words was go to him with a smile.

    In 2009, the ripple goes on….

  22. Lauren Says:

    Lauren,

    I came across this blog while I was trying to google my own website, I just wanted you to know that reading your blogs has been such a encouragement! I have never met you but you are such a strong woman and I admire your unwavering commitment to Christ even during the worst of circumstances. It sounds like you live in the Dallas area and I am here also. Maybe the Lord will allow out paths to cross at some point. I will keep you and your son in my prayers. Grace and Peace

    -Lauren

  23. Kari Says:

    Your story is very beautiful and is comforting to me even though I don’t have any apparent need to be comforted… if that makes sense?

  24. Rachel Says:

    I don’t know you but I have read your blog twice now. Today I read about the walk you and your husband took the night before he died and I can’t tell you how grateful I was for that walk for you. I just keep thinking, “What if she had stuck to her guns and not taken it?” Praise God that you took it.
    To be held and loved and to KNOW you were cherished by a man who loved you and your baby…that’s something most women want for a lifetime and don’t know. I know it, and I pray that God lets me live a long life with this man of mine and our son that’s on the way, but if He doesn’t, it’s been a blessing to know that there’s someone out there who has gone through it and still gets angry and sad, but sees that life has to go on. I hope you’re enjoying Chicago and I pray for you to not become the drunken woman in the smoky bar, but one who might reach one of those. You’ve lived through the greatest fear of every married woman and every expectant mom, and I hope God takes you and uses you mightily.


  25. Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your story. What a beautiful gift the Lord has given you in giving you that song, and such faith. Maybe when we meet in person in the presence of the Lord, I will get to hear it’s melody :D Thank you for blessing us with this writing. I hope you and Jack are doing well!

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