We have been ministering to parents for 17 years through classes, Bible studies, MOPS groups, speaking at churches, and through ministering to families one on one. So many times I am amazed at the redemptive work of Jesus in and through the lives of marriages and how He restores families. There really is no such thing as a hopeless case.
About 13 years ago, David and I met a lovely couple. As they had their first child, they came to our parenting classes. Over the course of the next several years we became good friends and prayed with and for them to have a new baby. A second child. But as it turned out, they struggled to get pregnant again and endured several miscarriages. It seemed their precious daughter was to be an only child. They were saddened by this, but every ounce of love these parents had, they poured into that child.
She memorized scripture.
Knew the stories of the Bible.
And at only five years old, she danced incessantly, played the piano beautifully, and had the voice of an angel when she sang.
Jim and Muriel Sitton were raising quite a little soldier in God’s army. Her little light shined so brightly.
Until Thanksgiving night 2009, after having recited a scripture for Thanksgiving for the entire family, Makayla Joy Sitton was murdered in her sleep as was Muriel’s mother and two cousins as well as several more family members wounded by an estranged family member.
My phone rang early the morning after Thanksgiving when another friend phoned me to tell me of the tragedy that had happened the previous night.
I wept for days.
Bliss and I attended the little angel’s funeral and afterwards I held Muriel and physically felt her pain and mourning.
Her only child was gone.
In the days and weeks that followed, I nearly despaired thinking of how this mother would now be childless. I would go to visit her, and the house was so QUIET. The pain was visible on their faces. It was palpable in the air. And over the course of the next several months, I was blessed to walk through some of these dark times with my friends as the most horrific, unthinkable tragedy played out before the world in the media and in the courtroom. And I am so beyond grateful to be able to tell you that Jim and Muriel have since been blessed with two more precious daughters, and even though time does not erase the pain, the Lord has again graced their house with joy and laughter. And so this past week, when I received this sweet note of encouragement from Muriel about the Gold Star Christmas project, I was beyond thankful:
Thank you Lyette for such a blessed opportunity to give back to our Gold Star Families. We’ll be dropping off our gifts sometime this weekend for our “kids”…I actually went online and looked up old newspaper articles about their dad who was killed in action. Was moved to tears thinking of their mother, the children, years without their dad. It is such a gift to our family to be able to let this Gold Star Family know that their loss is not forgotten…and that they are being held up in prayer this Christmas season. Thank you Reback Family!
You see, only someone who has walked through such loss can truly empathize with another family who has suffered tragedy. All my best efforts to console Jim and Muriel pale in comparison to someone who has been there, in that same darkness. Muriel lost not just her only daughter that fateful night, but her mother and two cousins as well. She knows what it is like to sit with an empty chair at the holiday table. She knows what it feels like to miss that parent at a special occasion, anniversary, birthday, or when a new baby is born into the family. So for her to feel the BLESSING of giving back to these Gold Star families, tells me that GIVING and SERVING those around us with a heart of gratitude is healing.
The night that little Makayla was taken from this world, only hours before her death she had sang, danced, and played the piano with her family. She said, wisely beyond her years, that “It’s only thanksFEELING until you do something to SHOW your gratitude to God. Only THEN it becomes ThanksGIVING.”
We have 20 children left registered to receive a gift on behalf of a grateful nation through our American Gold Star Christmas project. I have gifts piling up in my office from thankful families from all across this nation. I have daily reminders being delivered to me that this nation remembers the loss these Gold Star families have suffered for our freedoms and securities. I KNOW that my families who have followed this blog over the last 4 years will make sure that EVERY child registered receives a gift. I KNOW that through loving on our military families who have bore such cost on our behalf, we can build a better America. We can begin to pave the pathway to restoration of our nation. We can begin to showcase the cost of our great country to the civilians enjoying such liberty and teach our children to take advantage of the opportunities inherent to being an American. If you have not yet made a login and viewed these precious families, read their fallen soldier’s stories, and considered buying a gift or even just donating towards a child and we will go purchase the gift FOR YOU, please do so by clicking here. This Black Friday, do one small thing for the families that daily live without a loved one so that you may have the right to pursue your own life, liberty, and happiness. When you do, you’ll sense the smile of a soldier from Heaven. Let’s not just be full of thanksFEELING. Let’s GIVE thanks like little Makayla said. Let’s do something to show our gratitude.
And my most humble thankfulness goes out to Jim and Muriel Sitton for allowing me to share Makayla’s story, and witness them walk through the nightmare of horror and find love and light despite such loss. I am very grateful for their friendship!