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A Grieving Town. A Mother's Faith.

This past Monday night a horrible tragedy occurred just outside the Hartselle City Limits. A four-year-old boy named Beau got off his bicycle to play with a dog on his street he had played with many times before. Beau had been in this neighbor's yard often. His family and this family are friends. This time, though, the dog was eating, and according to my veterinarian husband, that is a time when a dog can sometimes feel vulnerable, threatened, or overly protective. Even the most amiable and docile dog could have a quick, devastating reaction. Beau didn't know any of that. That dog bit Beau in a place on his body and in such a way that Beau died. His father, seeing the scene unfold, tried to intervene and was also bitten.

When reports of this child's death first began to circulate, the speculation was wild. Facts were sparse. Outrage was rampant. To add to the angst, it seemed that everyone in town had connections with Beau's family. They took this very personally. They all knew it could have happened to THEIR child (or grandchild), or in THEIR yard, or with THEIR dog. Soon, the whole town was in mourning. Many prominent churches were involved. Beau's parents are members at one church. One set of grandparents at another, and aunts, uncles, and more grandparents at still another.

Steve and I don't live in Hartselle anymore, but we lived there for 35 years and still feel very connected. I played for Beau's paternal grandparents' wedding. Our daughter Laura babysat Beau's daddy when he was about Beau's age. I taught piano to Beau's aunt. I played for his great-granddaddy's funeral last October and wrote about him here. Beau has two big brothers. His parents work and contribute to the community. They have the kind of family everyone longs to have. Those of us who know them want to DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING to express our love and deep sympathy.

As of this moment, a GoFundMe account has raised more than $86,000. (Here's a link if you'd like to contribute). A prayer vigil was held at the high school football stadium. A scholarship fund has been set up with Bank Independent. Danville folks are wearing red today in Beau's memory. His funeral is scheduled for this morning at 11:00 at Danville Baptist Church. How I pray for those two preachers who will be trying to bring comfort to this grieving family.

By far, though, the most powerful thing that has happened has been the written testimony of Beau's mother. She begins and ends by praising God. She shares precious memories of her child, and she begs anyone who doesn't know Jesus to reach out. You will detect no bitterness, only gratitude and deep faith.

Here are her words.

First off, God is good. God sustains. God provides. He strengthens, carries, and just holds on when there are zero words that can be said. He knows. Scripture tells us in Hebrews 4:15 that we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; He hurts when we hurt. He meets you where you are, and He sends people to do His work in the flesh to provide a glimpse of His love. We are overwhelmed with the support from our community and even complete strangers. We’ve just sat and cried as people have shown up to love us, and we feel so undeserving of this love. None of us deserve anything. I have always had a strong faith, but the last few days something has stuck out to me more than ever: God willingly gave His son. Jesus was brought into this world for the pure purpose to be sacrificed for me and everyone else who doesn’t deserve it, and it is more unfathomable than ever. I have no explanation, and I may never have one. And that’s ok. God is good, He is here, and He is going to take something that’s truly tragic and use it for His glory. I have no doubt in my heart of that.

We miss Beau. We miss his voice filling up our home. We miss his feet running across the house waking us up and him bursting through our bedroom door exclaiming, “It’s morning time!” We miss his cheeky grin and his contagious laugh. His hugs and love were like none I’ve ever known. He’d put those little hands on my face and say, “oh you’re just my cute little mama.” He thought he was as big as his brothers and could do anything that they could do. He was his daddy’s shadow and couldn’t wait to get on Flint Creek this spring in his daddy’s canoe and have his daddy as his baseball coach (beau wouldn’t call it t-ball… he said that was for “little boys”). What a treasure he has been to love and take care of the past four years and three months. He’s changed me. He’s changed us. He’s taught me patience. He’s taught me to let go of things that really just don’t matter. Who knew you could learn so much from such a small child?

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for the love you’ve shown our family. We are blown away. We covet your prayers today and in all of the days to come as we get ready to begin our new normal. We also want you to know our Jesus. He’s the only thing getting us through this, and I don’t know how people without faith can make it through such a tragedy and loss. If you don’t know Him, please, I’m begging you to reach out. I will sing of His goodness all of the days of my life.

I am amazed at the strength God has given Hailey Clark in these days. I thank Him for being real to her and Kevin in ways others can see.

I'm praying, and I encourage you to join me in praying for these parents, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. I pray for the friends whose dog caused the tragedy. I can't imagine the depth of their sorrow for what happened.

Pray for people in Hartselle. Ask God to give them fresh, godly priorities and perspectives. Ask God to convict the hearts of those who aren't saved and don't know Jesus. Ask God for revival.

Psalm 147:3 --"He (God) heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."

Revelation 21:4 -- "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Psalm 73:26 - "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

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