A Garment of Praise
A Story of Blessings in the Midst of Grief
Perfect Bound Softcover
Lois and Tim had been married almost twenty-five years and were the parents of three teenagers. In a single moment, a fatal accident altered the course of Lois’s life and changed her family forever. In the face of intense pain, God used a variety of people and circumstances to reveal His presence and provisions for Lois and her family. In her memoir, A Garment of Praise: A Story of Blessings in the Midst of Grief, Lois chronicles her journey of grief during her first year as a widow. She shares how she and her family experienced God’s amazing, overwhelming, lavish love and abundant blessings. Within days of her husband’s death, Lois began to see ways God had prepared her family for life without Tim. A Garment of Praise: A Story of Blessings in the Midst of Grief presents Lois’s written record of how God provided care for Lois and brought her and her family unexpected blessings during a time of tragedy.
The Phone Call Tim called sometime after noon that day. He was still so excited about his new job prospect. It was also the day before his weekly flight home, which always made him happy. He was light-hearted and exceptionally sweet. Several times he expressed how much he missed me and looked forward to seeing me the next evening. I told him that he had to keep being “up” that day, because I was really down and in need of his encouragement to balance my emotional low. As usual, we planned out the events and schedule for the weekend. I told him my agenda for the rest of the day. As always, we expressed our love for each other before ending the call. A little later, Brooke came over for our visit. She and I had tried unsuccessfully to get together the entire time I had been on vacation. As a real estate agent with her own business, she was particularly busy. Between both of our schedules, we had not been able to schedule and keep a date. We had originally planned to have lunch together that Thursday, but by the time the day came, we knew that we would only have about an hour together. Brooke decided to come to my house before I had to leave for my work meeting. We enjoyed visiting and catching up on each other’s lives and families. As we chatted, Megan came home from school. She and Brooke’s daughter Kami are the same age, attended the same school and Sunday school class. Megan talked with Brooke and me for a while. When the telephone rang a short time later, Megan left the room to answer it. She returned to tell me that the call was for me, and stayed with Brooke while I took the call. The caller’s voice was unfamiliar. She introduced herself as someone from the Denton County Medical Examiner’s office. Call me naïve, but I had no idea what that meant, or where Denton County was, for that matter. Her next words sent a chill up my spine and fear in my heart as she said, “I need you to sit down.” I didn’t sit. My mind raced out of control, knowing that something terrible had happened. It was amazing how many thoughts shot through my mind in a split second. “Josh is dead!” I imagined with horror. Josh often jogged on a county road near his school. I figured he had either been hit by a car as he ran or that he had been in an auto accident. I wondered how I would reach Tim at work and how Tim would handle this news since he and Josh were so close. I knew that our lives would never be the same. The caller’s next words changed my life forever. She said, “Your husband was in an accident this afternoon, and I am sorry to tell you that he was killed.” If she said anything else, I did not hear her. The word “killed” resonated in my brain as I screamed “No, no, no!” over and over. I simply refused to believe that he was gone. I had just talked with him several hours before. He and I discussed everything; how could this stranger tell me that I could never talk to him again, never hear his voice? I would not accept that he would never hug me again. It was unthinkable. There had to be a mistake. As soon as they heard my cries, Brooke and Megan ran into the kitchen and I told them what happened. Megan grabbed me and held me as Brooke unwound the telephone cord from around us. She finished the call, gathering information from the medical examiner’s office, while Megan hugged me and spoke words of comfort. She reminded me that God was in control, that He was sovereign and that He had a plan for our lives. She continued to speak truth to me as she held me. I was shaking uncontrollably and she told me I needed to calm down because she was afraid I was going to pass out. She later told me that, because I seemed to be completely falling apart, she was sure she would have to be the one to make Tim’s funeral arrangements. As strange as it sounds, in some part of my brain, I knew that I was okay and that I was going to continue to be okay, despite the screams and sobs that shook my body. When Brooke finished talking to the woman at the medical examiner’s office, she wrapped her arms around Megan and me, cried with us and prayed for us as she held us. Then she called our church to inform them of what had happened. I struggled to clear my head, trying to think of what to do next. I went downstairs to call Laquita and tell her I would not be coming over. She cried on the phone with me as I told her the reason for my call. Meanwhile Brooke continued to make calls from her cell phone. I know that it was out of love for us that she took on the unenviable task of calling Tim’s mom, telling her that her middle son was dead. Tim and his mom were so close, and both delivering and receiving the news of his death was excruciatingly painful. It was also difficult for Brooke to call my mom and for my mom to learn that she had just lost a son-in-law whom she loved very much. My immediate concern was for my children. Julie was at a soccer practice at school. When I came back upstairs, Brooke told me that Megan had gone to get Julie. I needed to make arrangements for Josh to be told about Tim’s death and to be driven from his college back to St. Louis. A short time later, our pastor, Clint Hamilton, and Jay arrived. When Clint and Jay came into our house, Jay sat down on the sofa next to me, wrapped his arms around me and held me as I sobbed. I felt comforted and safe as I leaned into him and cried. He and Clint offered words of sympathy. I told them that I needed to get Josh home from college. I wanted Josh to hear the news about his dad face-to-face. I feared that as soon as he knew what had happened, he would hop in his truck and take off for home as fast as he could. The thought of his experiencing the initial shock alone and then driving for two hours was something I didn’t want him to endure, and something I didn’t want to have to worry about. Jay told me that he had already planned to go to Josh’s school to pick him up. I called Josh’s girlfriend, Jessica, who told me Josh was at work that afternoon and evening. She agreed to accompany Jay to Linn, MO where Josh’s school and work were located. I was so grateful that they were willing to make the drive and face the difficult task of informing Josh that his dad had died.
Lois Lanham is a registered nurse in a large pediatric practice. She and her husband, John, enjoy quiet times at home together, as well as large noisy family gatherings with their six children, six in-law children, and their grandchildren. Lois and John live in Manchester, Missouri.
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