God Doesn’t Send People to Hell

I have some thoughts swirling around in my head this morning that I need to get out. I was up early with a sick child, and when I lay back down to try to sleep again, these thoughts compelled me to get up and write. I believe that someone needs to hear this today.

When I have trouble sleeping, I usually pray. I figure that if I’m awake in the middle of the night, God wants me to spend that quiet time with Him. Often, those prayers are for my loved ones who are far from Him. My heart breaks for those who are missing out on the relationship that I have with my Heavenly Father.

Many people are having difficulty reconciling a God of love with the reality of Hell. We’ve all heard this argument, or maybe you’ve used it yourself: If God is really loving, there’s no way He could send people to Hell.

God is love

I agree, and here are my thoughts about it. God truly is love. Absolutely. No doubt about it. He demonstrated that in a way that I would dare say very few of us could have done. He sent His Son to die for us. Could you do that? Could you allow your child to be brutally murdered to save people who are mean and cruel and vile and backstabbing and rude and gossipy and murderous and downright sinful?

I couldn’t. There’s no way. But God did. You know why? Because He loves us more than our human minds can even comprehend. And not only that, but He wants to hang out with us forever. And ever. And ever. That’s a super long time.

So God did the hard part. He sent His Son out of the perfection and comfort of Heaven to be tortured and die. Why? Because Jesus was the only person who ever walked the earth and didn’t do anything wrong. He never sinned. Not one of us could say that about ourselves. Even those who don’t buy into sin and Hell know that they’ve done bad things in their lives. We all have.

Because God is a just God, He can’t be with us if our hearts are rebellious and dirty. We need a sacrifice in order to be forgiven, or in other words, to bridge the gap between us and Him that is created by our sins. Jesus became that perfect sacrifice—once and for all time. He paid the price for our sins so we don’t have to.

Not only does God want us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven, but He loves us so very much that He wants our lives on this earth to go well, too. He has laid out in His Word some guidelines for how we should live. Just like we, as parents, want our children to be safe and healthy and happy, so we have rules and guidelines for how they should behave.

When we live outside of those guidelines, we experience pain and hurt and bad things. We just do. There are consequences when we disobey. Some of the guidelines that come to my mind from God’s Word are:

Be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” [We should be patient and control our anger.] (James 1:19)

“Do not get drunk on wine.” [This is self explanatory.] (Ephesians 5:18)

“Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” [Avoid gossip.] (2 Timothy 2:16)

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure.” [Sex is only for marriage (between one man and one woman).] (Hebrews 13:4)

“He who puts up security for another will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe.” [Don’t co-sign loans for others.] (Proverbs 11:15)

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” [Avoid marrying or entering into business partnerships with people who don’t share your values and beliefs.]  (2 Corinthians 6:14)

And so on and so on.

God, as a loving Heavenly Father, gives us many guidelines in His Word for how we should live our lives—not to keep us from having fun or to put a damper on our lives, but to protect us. It’s very much like when we, as parents, see danger that our kids can’t see. We might restrict them from activities that we know are harmful, and they might think we are mean or prudish. In reality, we are protecting them because we know better than they do what is good for them.

When we stray from God’s guidelines and disobey His rules, we suffer. He doesn’t punish us; there are simply consequences when we live outside of the good guidelines that He set out for us. When we go our own way and think our ways are best, we often hurt ourselves and we hurt others.

Along those lines, God doesn’t send people to Hell. People choose Hell (a place of torment and eternal separation from God) when they reject God and His ways. Many people are “wise in their own eyes” and think they know what’s best. Instead of trusting the God who created them and provides for them and loves them, they go their own way and try to satisfy their deepest longings apart from Him. But do you know what? It’s impossible. We can’t fill the holes in our hearts with anything except God. It simply doesn’t work.

I totally get that life is hard and it downright stinks sometimes. We live in a broken, fallen world that is full of pain and heartache. Many people experienced unthinkable pain as children, and Satan has used those wounds to make you believe lies. Some of us have had horrific tragedies thrust into our lives—things that we didn’t ask for or deserve. But God doesn’t cause the pain. Instead, He made a way for us to live forever in a place where there’s no pain.

But we have to choose in this very brief life that we’re living now whether we will live with God for eternity or apart from Him where the pain will never end. He won’t force us to choose Him. And once our hearts stop, it’s too late to change our minds. There’s no do-over once we’re dead.

So if you’ve been struggling with some of these things, I urge you to “Seek the Lord while He may be found.” Run to Him with your hurts and your questions and your doubts. He adores you and longs for a relationship with you. He wants to heal you and fill you with joy and peace and contentment.

In Heaven, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” (Revelation 21:4)

Doesn’t that sound amazing? Won’t you join me there?


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Don’t Hesitate

When my husband and I were planning our wedding 19 years ago, we struggled a little with what church we would plug into once we were married. Trevor had grown up in and was still attending a traditional Southern Baptist church. I was involved with a contemporary Vineyard church. We both loved our churches and worship styles, so we needed to find a church that would be a good compromise. We landed on a Southern Baptist church that had contemporary worship music and solid, biblical teaching. It was just what we needed. We grew there, made some life-long friends, and had opportunities to pour out, too, by leading some Bible studies about finances.

Three years into our marriage, my dad, a local Vineyard pastor, met with us and asked if we would pray about coming to lead the youth group at his church. We decided that God was leading us in that direction, so since 2000, we have been part of The Gainesville Vineyard Christian Fellowship. Once our own children started coming along, however, we passed the youth group on to others and have ministered in various other ways. Our kids have been blessed to grow up in my parents’ church, with Papa as their pastor.

Trevor and I have four children (plus one in Heaven). Our oldest is Caleb, born in 2002. He is the oldest of my parents’ 11 grandchildren. On April 19 last year, the Sunday before Caleb’s 13th birthday, my dad called Caleb in front of the church to pray a blessing over him–not only a pastor’s blessing but a grandfather’s blessing. Trevor stood with them and prayed a father’s blessing over Caleb as well.

As they were praying, I felt a prompting to capture the moment by taking this picture with my phone. I’m so glad I did.



Two weeks later, on May 4, my dad was killed in a hit-and-run crash by an intoxicated driver while cycling near his home. I will always treasure this picture and the memory of what Dad did for Caleb. He felt God leading him to acknowledge Caleb’s transition into manhood by praying over him. I’m so thankful that he didn’t hesitate.

We face situations every day in which we could minister to others. Maybe the grumpy cashier at the grocery store, who is obviously having a bad day (or a bad life), could use a word of encouragement. Perhaps the person behind us in the drive-thru line would appreciate our paying for his meal. Or maybe we should take a moment to write a note to (or better yet, visit) an older person who struggles with loneliness.

There are countless ways that God prompts us to reach out to those who need a touch from Him. We are the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth, so God uses us to accomplish His purposes here. Do we listen for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit leading us as we go about our business, or are we too busy and distracted to look outward to the needs of others? When we do sense God leading us to step out, do we hesitate or do we obey?

I’m certainly guilty of hesitating or of missing the moment because I’m too inward focused at times. It takes effort to reach out to others when life is already hard and full. I wonder how many times I have missed the blessing of being used by God because I was consumed by what was going on in my own life and circumstances and didn’t obey His direction.

Here are some verses that might help us to be more intentional about ministering to others as we go about our business each day:

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:11

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22

“Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8:14

“My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13

“A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25

Let’s be intentional about obeying the promptings of the Lord without hesitation, so that we can help to bring about His Kingdom here on earth. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for Jesus to return for His Church. I believe the more we help accomplish His purposes here, the sooner He will come for us. Come, Lord Jesus!


P.S. I want to let you all know about my husband’s brand new book, The Miracle and Magnificence of America. If you don’t already have a copy, check it out here. I know that I’m biased, but it’s a super amazing account of God’s hand on this nation, from the very beginning to the modern age. He discusses how we have strayed from our founding principles and what we can do to turn the tide. I hope you enjoy it!

TMAMOA Cover Spread 7.27.16




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A Journey Through Grief, A Promise of Hope

Today marks the first anniversary of my dad’s death. It’s hard to believe that an entire year has passed already. I wanted to share with you the following poem that my sister penned this week. It will give you a glimpse into our last year. Blessings, friends.


A Journey Through Grief, A Promise of Hope

by Suzanne Fitzpatrick Nunnally

A beautiful Monday in the heart of spring,

Such peace in my heart, full of thanksgiving.

I told the Lord, “Life is perfect, please let it stay.”

No idea what would be changed by the end of the day.

Through random circumstances we had a clue

That something was wrong; in our hearts we knew.

And at the scene, it was confirmed to be him.

My dad was gone, and this nightmare begins.

The first few days pass by with a blur.

Friends and family surround you, give you strength to endure.

I want to wake up from this nightmare, I say.

It can’t be true, I will wake up some day.

But each day, each moment, the truth hits again,

My dad, my greatest friend, is gone to Heaven.

And so this journey with grief, it starts to take hold

The loss and the pain will lessen we’re told.

I want time to stop, but move fast just the same.

I long for a time when I can breathe again

But the farther I go, the longer it’s been

Since I saw him, hugged him, breathed him in.

The world keeps on moving, as if all is the same,

But inside I scream “Stop!” I can’t play this game.

Don’t people know that I’m not okay?

That this pain and the grief don’t just go away?

My faith starts to shake, I’m angry, it’s true.

I needed my dad, and I know God knew.

But just when my faith starts to break, I can take no more,

God gives me a hope, like never before.

God promises always to work for our good.

My mind can’t contain what He understood.

His plan is much bigger and broader than mine.

He weaves it all together from the beginning of time.

And yes, the hole in my life is great and wide,

But God promises always to be by my side.

I cried out to God, said I needed my dad.

He said, “I’m the best Dad you’ve ever had.”

So hold me, my Daddy, please don’t let go.

Walk with me through life, and I will know

That even through loss and sorrow and grief,

You love me, sustain me, secure my belief.

And even though joy is shadowed with pain.

Our loss on this Earth is Heaven’s gain.

I rejoice in the promise I’ll see him someday

When I’m fully alive in Heaven to stay.

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Dads, Write Notes to Your Children

I was a student at North Georgia College in the mid-90s. The campus was about an hour’s drive from my parents’ home.  Because my grandparents lived about half as far from school, I stayed with them during the school week, to make my commute shorter and cheaper. Then I went home on the weekends.

One day after class, I got to my car to head back to my grandparents’ and found a note from my dad, scribbled on the back of his business card and slid under my windshield wiper. He was a licensed professional counselor and was working that day in the area where my college was located.

Here’s the note:


He had taken time out of his schedule that day to weave through the large college parking lots and locate my car so he could let me know that he was thinking of me and loved me.

It has been over 20 years since I found the note on my car, and I have kept it secure in the bottom drawer of my jewelry box ever since. In other words, I have treasured it.

After my dad was killed in May, I searched through boxes and containers of “stuff” that we have stored in closets and behind knee walls. I was desperate for more written notes from my dad, specifically to me, telling me that he loves me. I found a couple of cards that he wrote to my husband and me early in our marriage, thanking us for contributing to his mission trips to Peru. He also wrote the inscription on a Bible that he and my mom gave me for Christmas one year.

I’m sure there are other notes from my dad that I have yet to find, but by and large the birthday cards and inscriptions and notes and such were written by my mom. Of course I treasure those also, but like all daddy’s girls, this one craves written affirmation and encouragement and love from her daddy.

My encouragement to dads today is to be intentional about writing notes to your children. Write on their birthday cards some of the time. Scribble an “I love you” on the napkin in their lunchbox. Keep a journal for each child, and write to them in it occasionally, telling them how special they are and what you enjoy about them (this is something that my husband and I have been doing since our children were born). If your children are already grown, mail them a “Thinking of You” card and tell them how proud you are of them and how much you love them. Those little intentional acts of love might mean the world to your children one day.

I realize that these sappy kinds of things come naturally to moms and not so much to most dads.  And I know that life is busy and it’s easy to forego the little extras. But please take a few moments occasionally to write special things to your kids. Life is a vapor, and we never know if we will have tomorrow.

Thankfully, our Heavenly Daddy wrote many amazing love notes to us in His Word, and we can draw comfort and strength from them always.

Here are some of my favorites:

“The Lord your God is with you,

He is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

He will quiet you with His love,

He will rejoice over you with singing.”  

(Zephaniah 3:17)


“I have loved you with an everlasting love.

I have drawn  you with loving-kindness.”

(Jeremiah 31:3)


“For God so loved the world

that He gave His one and only Son,

that whoever believes in Him 

shall not perish but have eternal life.”

(John 3:16)


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My “Crash” Course in Grief

Pun intended.

It’s been four months today since my dad was killed in a hit-and-run crash. He was cycling near his home on May 4 and was hit from behind by an intoxicated motorist (who was later apprehended). Dad was killed instantly. As I wrote a month after the crash, my dad was my rock, and our whole family is trying to pick up the pieces of our lives and figure out how to go on without him.

In the days and weeks after Dad was killed, I wondered if there would ever come a time when I didn’t think about him every waking moment of every day. My friend, whose father was killed in a mining accident years ago, assured me that the day would come when I wouldn’t dwell on his death each moment. Thankfully, she was right, and I’m at least able to function now.

These four months have been, hands down, the hardest of my entire life. I’ve cried daily for four months straight. I try to keep the tears inside until I’m alone at night…often in the shower. There the tears can flow and I can pour out my hurts and heartache to God without upsetting anyone else. Sometimes, out of the blue it hits me that Dad is really gone, and it feels like I’ve been punched in the stomach. At this point, I don’t know when the tears might stop.

I want to discuss some of the things that I’ve learned about grief in these four shorts months that I’ve been on this road….the good, the bad, and the ugly. And believe me, parts of it are ugly.  The “experts” say that there are stages of grief, such as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I can’t point to specific stages that I’ve been through; maybe that will come in time. I just know that it hurts. And it’s messy. And I’ve run the gamut of emotions from one day to another or even from one moment to another.

As my mom and I were sitting by Dad’s fresh grave one day, an older lady stopped by the cemetery to put flowers on a grave that I assume belonged to her husband. Her less than comforting words were this, “Honey, it doesn’t ever get any easier.”

But what about “Time heals all wounds.”


“Tears may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”


“A time to grieve and a time to dance.”?

Where’s the hope that this pain won’t last forever?

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler have this to say: “You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to.”

Going back to our homeschool academy last month was almost torturous for me. Dad was one of our middle school teachers, and I’m the school administrator. I spent well over 600 hours with Dad at school in the past year alone. When I’m there I can almost hear his voice coming from his classroom across the hall from my office. I can almost see him walking down the hall in his slow, confident gait. I can almost smell his cologne on my children’s clothes, because they would greet him with a hug each morning at the beginning of school. Thankfully, I had the summer to work through some of the emotions, and I try to put on my “happy face” every day at school, but it’s still very difficult even to look in his classroom.

Another really stinky aspect of this has been imagining the actual crash in my mind. I know enough details from visiting the scene of the crash and from speaking with the state patrol officer and some of the witnesses to know that my dad died a terribly violent death. I know that I shouldn’t dwell on such things, but it’s very hard to keep my mind from going there. When I sink into that awful train of thought, I have to pull myself out of it quickly by thinking about other things. It’s been helpful to have my kids around, because they keep things upbeat and are a distraction when I’m tempted to sink into the mire of the tragedy.

Anger has been a prominent feeling for me over the last few months. I wouldn’t say that I’m stuck in the anger “phase” of grief, but I experience angry moments off and on, out of the blue, for no apparent reason. I’ve screamed at God for taking my dad away. I’ve screamed at the man who killed him (well, not really “at” him because I’ve never spoken to him, but in the privacy of my home). I’ve been mad at Dad for riding on a busy road. I’ve been less than patient with my children at times, because it’s been hard to keep the anger from flowing out. I’ve had little patience with senseless quarrels and the insignificant squabbles of others. It’s as if I’ve crossed over a line. I can see now what’s truly important in life, and I don’t want to spend my time and energy on trivial issues that have no eternal value.

I’ve been reading a book called Forgiving the Unforgivable. The author lost his father, grandmother, and great-grandmother to a drunk driver about 20 years ago, and he discusses the process of forgiving someone for something that caused so much pain. He says that it took him a long time (years) to come to the place where he could forgive the driver. In fact, for some time, he wanted the driver to die for what he had done.

To say that I’ve forgiven the driver who killed my dad would be true and false. When he comes to mind, I have to make a conscious choice to forgive him, over and over again. I think it’s a process that we have to go through, of releasing the perpetrator in our minds and praying for him or her until we finally feel no ill will toward the person. I do pray for the man who killed Dad–I pray for him often. I pray that he will come to know the Lord through this tragedy. If this makes any sense, I don’t want my dad’s death to be wasted; I want Dad’s life and death to lead his killer to Christ. I know without a shadow of a doubt that if Dad had been given the choice to die so that his killer would gain eternal life, he would’ve willingly given his life. (Who knows? Maybe Dad was given that choice in the instant before he was killed.) Wouldn’t that be how God operates? To use something absolutely horrific to bring about something eternally awesome?!

Our family still has a long road ahead of us. We’ve already been through one hearing with the driver, and another is scheduled for December. He hasn’t even been indicted for the crash yet, so the trial is still many months away. We will likely re-live the tragedy and loss over and over again through the legal process.

But here are some positives:

One thing that I’ve experienced since Dad’s death is a loss of fear. I’m no longer afraid of death and dying because my daddy has gone before me. It’s comforting to know that He is in heaven holding the babies that my sister and I miscarried until we get there and can hold them ourselves. He was an awesome Papa to his 11 grandkids here on earth, and he’s being an awesome Papa now to the three who are with him in heaven.

Another positive is that I’ve lost some of my shyness about talking to others concerning matters of faith. I’ve always been very reserved and almost afraid to talk to strangers, for fear of sounding dumb or coming across as odd. Since Dad’s death, I have a new boldness and a desire to share with others what’s truly important in life: a relationship with Jesus.

I often wonder if it’s harder to lose a loved one instantly and tragically as we have or slowly and painfully, from a disease. I think to myself that I would give my right arm to be able to tell my dad goodbye, to give him one last hug and tell him how very much I love him. But if I had had to watch my big, strong, wise daddy waste away from a horrible disease or injury, I don’t think I could have endured it. Even in tragedy, God is merciful and kind.

I’ve prayed for Jesus to come back for His church many, many times since May 4. I’m ready to leave this earth; I’m ready for the pain and heartache to end. I wouldn’t say that I’ve been “depressed,” but I’ve had a desire to die since my dad was killed. In fact, several in our family have expressed these feelings, including some of our small children. Of course, I’m not thinking of killing myself, but I would be very happy for God to take me from this world at any time now. My husband thinks I’m nuts and tells me that I’m being selfish and that he and our children would be devastated. That’s true, I suppose, and I wouldn’t wish that pain on them for anything….I just want to be with my daddy again, and I’m tired of hurting. I can’t imagine living 40 or 50 more years on this earth without him. I don’t see how I possibly can.

And then, there’s this: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13.

Do you see that?

I can because He gives.

If God wants me to live 50 more years here, I have to trust that He will give me the strength. If He wants to take me Home tomorrow, I have to trust that He will give my loved ones the strength to bear it. He is enough.

My aunt sent me a devotional today that gave me peace and increased my longing to be Home. Here’s an excerpt: “Think about the comfortable feeling you have as you open your front door [after a long trip]. That’s but a hint of what we’ll feel some day on arriving at the place our Father has lovingly and personally prepared for us in heaven. We will finally–and permanently–be ‘at home’ in a way that defies description.” (Charles Stanley/In Touch Ministries)

This world is not our Home. We are merely passing through. We are aliens and strangers on this earth. But our journey here needs to mean something. We have Kingdom work to do on our way through this life, and I believe that Jesus won’t be back for His church until we’ve finished the work He has given us. Life is hard. In fact, it stinks sometimes. But God is good. He is faithful. He loves us. And He’s coming for us soon.

In the words of Matt Maher…..

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because He lives, every fear is gone.

I know He holds my life, my future in His hands.


Click here to see a glimpse of my dad's beautiful life.

Click here to see a glimpse of my dad’s beautiful life.

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What Good Are Dads, Anyway?

I never imagined when I posted this piece last year on Father’s Day (see below) that I would be fatherless this year. Everything I wrote is still as applicable today as it was a year ago. I have to trust that my Heavenly Father will indeed be “a father to the fatherless” and “a defender of widows” for our family going forward (Psalm 68:5).

Kingdom Crossing

What Good Are Dads Anyway

In honor of Father’s Day, many of my Facebook friends have been changing their profile pictures this weekend to photos of their dads. I love to see all of the precious pictures of dads—some who are still with us and some who have gone on to heaven. There’s nothing quite like a father.

If you pay much attention to popular television shows, you have probably noticed that dads (and men, in general) are more often than not portrayed as bumbling idiots. They are shown as dumb, lazy, out of touch, and even unfaithful. I despise the message that this sends to a generation of young people who, maybe more than any other generation, desperately needs to see hard-working providers. They need to see men who stick around, in spite of the difficulties, because that’s what dads and husbands do. They need to see men who are strong and brave and who protect their…

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Even in Tragedy, God is Good

On Monday, May 4, 2015, I was enjoying a beautiful homeschool day with my four children and my nine-year-old niece. The girls had spent a couple of hours in the back yard building houses from sticks, berries, acorns, leaves, and such. Around 1:45 in the afternoon, I took pictures of their creations and shared them on my Facebook wall.

Before I closed Facebook, I saw an urgent post from one of my friends that went something like this: “Please pray!!!! I just witnessed a bicyclist hit by a truck in Braselton. The truck left the scene, and the bicyclist is unresponsive.”

My heart started pounding. You see, my dad lives in Braselton and he had in recent years taken up cycling for recreation and exercise. I immediately feared the worst.

I tried several times to call my friend who witnessed the accident, but she didn’t answer. I tried to call my dad multiple times. No answer. I called my sister, who lives close to my parents. No answer. I then called my mom at work and asked her if my dad was riding right then. He was. I told Mom about the post on Facebook and said that I would keep trying to reach my friend who had witnessed the crash. I called my husband and asked him to pray.

In the meantime, I rushed downstairs and told the kids to get in the car. I told them that someone had been hit riding their bike, and I wasn’t sure if it was Papa or not. When I was about to walk out the door, my friend called. Sobbing, I asked her if it was my dad. She told me she didn’t see his face, so she didn’t know. She tried to assure me that lots of people ride bicycles around Braselton, and Braselton is a really big place. She said that it happened on the Oakwood side of Hwy 53 in Braselton (hoping, I suppose, that he didn’t ride in that area), and I told her that my dad lives around there. She said they were doing CPR on the man. She said she had described my dad to the investigator after she listened to the message I had left her and asked him to call her if that matched the victim. He hadn’t yet called, so she thought that was good news. She then prayed with me and for me and for the bicyclist, asking God to breathe His breath of life into him.

My dad wore a GPS tracker when he rode, so I called my mom back and asked if Dad’s ride was still going. She checked it, and it had stopped–on Hwy. 53. So Mom left work immediately and rushed to find where he had stopped riding.

I had a 45-minute ride down to Braselton. While I was driving, I called my sister. Her husband went to check things out. A little while later, I called my sister back to see if Mark had found anything. While we were talking, he beeped in, so she switched to his call. When he hung up and her phone came back to my call, I heard the worst screams and sobs I could ever have imagined. I hung up immediately, knowing that my dad was dead.

My focus then was on getting the five children in my car safely to my parents’ house. I feared that I would faint on the way, so I tried to keep my emotions in check. My mind was reeling. The kids kept asking if I knew anything yet, but I told them that we just needed to get to Mimi and Papa’s house.

When we pulled into the driveway, my mom had just arrived from the scene of the crash. She opened the front door, and we held each other and sobbed. I told my kids that Papa had been killed, and we all held each other and cried for what seemed like forever. My husband came in from the crash scene, sobbing. My sister came in a few minutes later, and then her husband. We all sobbed while my mom called my two brothers to tell them the news.

A little while later, the coroner and a sheriff’s deputy came to ask some questions. They told us that they had the driver in custody. I walked out with the deputy to get my dad’s cycling shoes and sunglasses. I clung to the shoes and sobbed.

Anguish was the word of the day.

My dad was 64. In great health. With a wife of almost 46 years, 4 kids, 11 grandkids, his parents, four siblings, brothers- and sisters-in-law, countless nieces, nephews, cousins, 10 middle school students, multitudes of church friends, and on and on and on.

People started coming in that afternoon….church friends, aunts, uncles, my grandparents, cousins. It was the most surreal and unimaginably horrible day of my life.

That night, I hardly slept. I would doze and then immediately wake up, hoping desperately to be having a nightmare. I was devastated each time to realize that the nightmare was real.

The next few days, we spent a lot of time at my mom’s house, hugging, crying, talking. We had to wait until my dad was released from the GBI crime lab before we could make arrangements at the funeral home, but we began to plan his funeral. Heartwrenching doesn’t come close to describing this time.

We found out that the driver was charged with multiple counts, including DUI, first degree vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident with death, open container, failure to maintain lane, failure to leave a safe distance, and improperly transferred plate.

What do we do with that? To lose my dad suddenly was bad enough, but to lose him at the hands of someone who took substances into his body and chose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle multiplies the layers of yuck in this whole situation. Someone is responsible for taking away my dad. In addition to all of the things that go along with losing a loved one, we are dealing with state patrol investigators and district attorneys and a likely trial and sentencing and on and on. I feel as if I’ve been robbed.

I’m sure that many of you have had to say “goodbye” to someone precious to you. Although I always felt sympathy for others who were grieving the loss of a loved one, I couldn’t truly understand their pain. I had never experienced anything like this before. I had lost a couple of good friends and had miscarried a baby, but that was the extent of my grieving. Nothing could have prepared me for this.

I know that I’m biased, but my dad was hands-down the best dad I could ever have hoped for. He and my mom got married when they were 18 and have been married almost 46 years. I have two brothers and a sister, and between us we have 11 children. My dad was the most amazing Papa to those 11 children. They adored him, and the feeling was mutual. It was evident to everyone who knew him. Catch a glimpse of his awesome life from this short tribute video.

My dad was my pastor. He was my counselor. He was my oldest child’s middle school teacher. He was my occasional babysitter. He was my theology “professor.” He was my go-to guy for technology questions or issues. I would call and chat with him while I was taking walks in the evenings in my neighborhood. He was my blog post proofreader. He was my biggest cheerleader. He was one of my very closest friends.

He was my rock.

We all have a huge, gaping, bleeding, festering hole in our lives now. My dad kept my sister’s kids while she worked as an RN. My older brother called him after every UGA touchdown and after all of his sons’ ballgames. My younger brother rode bicycles with him. He and my mom have had “dates” every Friday night for many years. He paid all of their bills online, took out their trash, handled house maintenance, and on and on. He came to karate tournaments and piano recitals and baseball games and basketball games and soccer games and plays and such. He was there for all of us. Always.

And now he’s not.

I know that I have just barely begun to grieve, yet I’ve shed a million tears. There will likely be many emotions and many, many tears yet to come. But as strange as it sounds, I want to tell you that God is good, in spite of and even in the midst of this tragedy. He has already shown His goodness and mercy in many ways since my dad’s death, that He’s in control and He will take care of us. Here are a few examples:

1. A few days after my dad was killed, I called the witnesses who were listed on the crash report. I wanted to thank them personally for how they helped my dad and the role they played in assisting the authorities with apprehending the driver who killed him. After talking with one witness and hearing his story, I learned that he was a pastor. Another witness, who administered CPR to my dad, was such a sweet Christian young man. He was with my dad when he left this world and entered the presence of Jesus. I mentioned above that one of my friends, a precious sister in the Lord, witnessed the crash as well.  I’ll always be thankful that my dad was surrounded by fellow believers when he took his last breath here on earth.

2. I mentioned that my dad taught at our homeschool academy, so we would need to find someone to replace him, and soon. I knew that we could find someone to teach, but I was so sad that the middle school kids would be missing out on the pastor’s heart that Dad brought to his students. Do you know who God sent, almost immediately after Dad’s death? Two people: A pastor friend to teach our Bible classes and Dad’s brother….another “Mr. Fitz” (a long-time middle school teacher and then elementary school principal), to teach math and science. Even in this incredible tragedy, God showed us his faithfulness and goodness.

3. Dad’s funeral was a beautiful celebration of not only my dad’s life but of the goodness and mercy of God. We have heard multiple stories of people who were touched and changed by being in the service that day.

4.  God is opening doors for our family to tell others about Him through this tragedy. We’ve been making many calls to cancel services or subscriptions or to get help with billing questions as my mom tries to work through all of the legal and business issues she is left with. Over and over again, as we explain what has happened, we are able to share that God is with us and is taking care of us. He will not let this tragedy go to waste. He will use it to further His purposes and to touch lives for His Kingdom.

So even now as my heart is shattered into pieces, I choose to trust in my “Abba Father,” my Heavenly Daddy, to fill the holes and to carry me through this life. Although right now it seems like forever until I will see my Dad again, I know that in God’s timing it’s only the blink of an eye and we will be reunited.

I’ve always been afraid of dying and leaving this world. It’s natural to fear the unknown. But I’m no longer afraid, because I know that my Dad is there waiting for me. I’m eager to join him there, to worship my Awesome God for ever and ever.

This pain and heartache was not in God’s plan for us. Because of sin, we live in a broken world and we all suffer. But soon God will send Jesus for us, the church, His Bride, and we will be with Him for eternity. Everything will be made right.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

As I’ve never prayed before, I say, “Come, Lord Jesus!”


My precious Mom and Dad. (Click this picture to watch his tribute video, produced by my sister’s husband Mark.)

See Dad’s obituary here.

See the news article here.

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