Joby's funeral was Thursday. It was a day of deep, deep sadness and quiet celebration of a young life that touched so many people. There was standing room only in the chapel, as friends came to pay their respects to my nephew. I can't thank you all enough for all your prayers and emails and kind comments. It means so much to all of us.
My heart is overwhelmed with thoughts about this last week. So many of you have gone through your own tragedies, and know the feelings of shock, disbelief, anger, faith, love, and sorrow that seem to come in waves. The feelings weave in and out of every waking moment and even invade my sleep. Surely, we will all wake up and find that this has been a terrible dream.
And yet, through it all, we've felt uplifted and carried by our heavenly Father. Even as we've asked the hard questions of life, His presence has been close. He is truly near the broken-hearted, and how we have needed Him. Oh, how Joby's parents need him every moment.
I've experienced one of the Lord's tender mercies in the middle of this heartache, and it has given me hope that Joby's parents will be comforted by His tender mercies toward them as well. It has come from the love poured out toward me and my family by 8 women I met by "chance" on the flight home from the Deeper Still conference in Nashville last Sunday. I had sat down in the only empty seat I saw, and found myself surrounded by a group of ladies from Trinity Bible Church in Weatherford, Texas. We immediately began to talk about the conference, and then our conversations moved on to every topic under the sun. It was so fun and I felt an instant bond with these cute women.
When we landed in Dallas and headed for Baggage Claim, my husband, Tom, met me and pulled me aside to give me the awful news about Joby. We just clung to each other there on the bench at Love Field and wept in each others' arms. Please, please tell me this isn't true. God, no. I couldn't believe it.
After several moments he left my side and went over to the ladies and told them. They immediately flew across the room and covered me with their own tears, their prayers and their embraces. I'll never forget being encircled by their concern. These women, who had been complete strangers to me only hours before, now are forever etched in my heart as dear sisters.
Since then, they (along with so many of you) have emailed their prayers and words of comfort, and it has helped me come to understand the tender mercies of God's grace in the midst of deep sorrow. Maybe it is a small thing, but the sweetness and comfort of that moment has washed over me again and again. I am so grateful.
Joby's parents, brother and sister will need many tender mercies to strengthen them for years to come. The other boys involved in the circumstances of the accident will need their own tender mercies as well. Thank you all for your prayers for them, and for us. We appreciate every thought, prayer and gesture of kindness on Joby's behalf. I believe that the last chapter has not yet been written, and we will someday know the lasting effects of Joby's brief life here on earth. He was such a sweet kid with a great heart.
My new "Southwest Airlines Sisters." Thank you, sweet things.
Psalm 25:6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.