God Used My Sister's Death to Give Life to a New Purpose for His Glory
On my 40th birthday surrounded by my kids and my always-supportive husband, I digitally signed a contract with Bethany House to write a book—a real book that will be sold in real stores (and on Amazon).
I can’t say that I’ve dreamed of this day since I was a little girl because I haven’t. In fact, if I look back at what got me here, I’m not sure I would have even chosen it. It’s kind of a long story, and if you have a few minutes, I’d love to tell you about it.
In order for you to understand the joy of today, I have to take you back to the heartbreak of yesterday . . . just over 15 years ago. On an October morning, my little sister Kallie was in a car accident, she was life-flighted to a larger hospital where she died that same day. Never would I have predicted living the rest of my life without my sister. She was my little sidekick who cried on my wedding day, afraid she was losing her big sister. And even as just an 8th grader, she was a sweet aunt to my little girl.
But in a moment, everything changed.
Most of those changes were hard and awful and difficult to navigate, but something else changed inside me that has made me who I am today—a longing to know God more. I started reading my Bible more. And I started writing. I filled notebooks with my thoughts on and reactions to what I read. Soon, my fingertips made their way to a keyboard, and my words poured out on a screen.
My sister’s death gave life to a new purpose . . . to write for the Lord.
So I wrote in stolen moments of silence as I continued to teach and raise my growing family. A project began to form in my heart and grew into files saved on my computer. I wrote about all the things I would have taught my sister as she grew from a girl into a young woman. My faith grew as I wrote about the conversations I wished I could have had with Kallie as her faith grew.
I didn’t get to have those conversations with her, but I felt there was a place for them. I organized, revised, and compiled my words into a small book—a devotional for girls her age. More specifically, it was a devotional for my cousins, four girls just a few years younger than her. And at our family Christmas 11 years ago, I gave them that small book, a gift of my faith in hopes that it would strengthen theirs and honor my little sister.
Though I didn’t realize it at the time, that little project was the catalyst, the beginning, of a new passion and a new purpose: to share my faith with the world. Long story short, I continued to write. I started a blog that few people read, but writing filled my soul in a way I can’t explain. Eventually, I submitted my writing to Her View From Home, an online publication. The first article they accepted was raw and real—a letter to others facing unexpected loss and grief. A letter written from the pain of losing my sister.
Both my passion for writing and my faith grew as God led me small step by small step into this new calling.
I started social media pages, joined writer’s groups, and attended writing conferences all because I felt God leading me to something more yet never quite knowing what more meant.
On a spring day in the middle of Covid lockdowns, I took a two-hour drive to retrieve a dresser from our family to use in our home. In the silence of that drive, a book idea formed and chapter titles floated through my head. I pulled out my voice memo app and recorded the thoughts that seemed to almost force their way into my brain.
And even though I tried to ignore the idea of writing a book, God continued to push me in that direction. I researched the publication process, reached out to writing friends God had put in my path, and began to put together a book proposal in hopes of finding a literary agent to help me pursue publication. In March of 2021, I queried agents. I received rejection after rejection, which I had expected. But then, I got an email expressing interest in my book, and me. There is no doubt in my mind that God’s hand was involved in connecting me with Keely of WordServe Literary. She helped me refine my book proposal and then sent it out into the publishing world.
Again, we faced rejections. And again, God did what only God can do.
That book proposal made it to the second step of the selection process with one publisher but ultimately, it resulted in another rejection. However, the members of the board saw potential in another project on my list—a devotional for tween girls. A devotional that I hadn’t thought much of when I added it to my list of future book ideas. A devotional that I had written all those years ago as a gift to my cousins. They were interested in the book idea that was the very first thing I had ever really written.
At this point, I was weeks away from the birth of my sixth baby. I questioned God a little on His timing and then got to work. In the two weeks leading up to his birth, I created a new book proposal based on that original devotion. Then in the three weeks after his birth, I completed the sample chapters necessary, writing at least one of them on my phone at 3 a.m. with my baby in my arms.
Only God—He is the reason and the way I was able to complete that work.
With help from my agent, we prepared a final copy of the proposal and sent it back to the editor who had expressed interest. It passed steps one and two and moved on to step three. Step three meant that the acquisitions editor would present it to another board during a meeting where a decision would be made on whether or not to extend an offer to me for the book.
That meeting took place on Oct. 6, 2022. One day after the 15-year anniversary of my sister’s death. Fifteen years—almost to the day—after my sister died, my book proposal for a book inspired by her death was presented to a publishing house. And accepted.
Three months later, on my 40th birthday, I signed a contract to write the book God began in my heart when I lost my sister.
Only God can give such good gifts—the dates of that meeting and my signing are no coincidence, they are the work of God.
Only God can take an ordinary person like me, simply trying to grow closer to Him, and use her to share His Word and point others to Him.
Only God knows all the intricate details of how He pieced this together over the past two decades of my life. There are so many pieces of this puzzle that I didn’t include in this story that only He could explain.
Only God can take my pain and replace it with joy, evidence that the words of Romans 8:28—a verse I have clung to since the day my sister died—are true: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Friends, if you’ve made it this far and read every word of this story, I hope your takeaway is this . . .
God is good, He can make all things possible, and He can do far more than all we ask or imagine.
Will you trust Him with your story? Will you surrender the way you wanted things to go and ask Him to use you in the way things are? Will you trust that He is putting pieces together that you can’t even begin to understand? And will you believe that He will, in time, work all things for the good of those who love Him?