Burning Boats

Last year when I posted about Livingston’s accident the amount of people that reached out not exactly sure what I was talking about was surprising to me. It is so funny when you live through something with others. Something that so deeply impacted your journey you forget to share. You go through the motions of living it that sometimes you forget to put yourself out there in the vulnerability of it all. Sometimes you even deliberately wait so you are guaranteed to make it out the other side unscathed. Making sure you can tie a pretty ribbon on the top before sharing it with everyone. Making sure the goodness comes out of it that we were never promised this side of Heaven.

Before I get to ahead of myself, I am speaking of my husband, Livingston’s boating accident his sophomore year of college. Livingston and I had become dear friends over January of that year and as our friendship developed so did feelings for each other. With heading into summer, I was not quite sure what it would look like for us. He would be in Greenville, SC and I did have an internship there that summer but that really did not guarantee anything. The summer would be so telling but until we packed our cars for summer break we were going to enjoy spending time together.

It was about mid-morning on May 15, 2010. We had text the entire night before, as you were at your grandparent’s lake house having one last weekend away before we buckled down to study for exams. Little did we know you would end up getting a couple of more months to study for those exams. I remember it vividly. The exact part of the Wofford College library I was in when I heard about your accident. One of our mutual dear friends answered my call. This friend pulled you out of the boat and threw you in the shower to stop the flames. I could not quite believe what I was hearing since we were suppose to study later that afternoon. I only called you to ask you to bring your charger since I forgot mine. Even writing it I feel the panic rising up within me. Hearing the words and not knowing what to do. Not really being able to do anything.

It is amazing how the Lord weaved this into our journey together. As you were taken to the closest local hospital then immediately put on a helicopter to Augusta Burn Center, I remember trying to gather pieces of your whereabouts. I did not know your family so hanging on every piece of information that I could learn to keep track of your movements that day. When we were with your family in March at the beach, I realized I never asked them where they were in all of the movement. How they coped with watching their child in the worst pain of his life. Your precious mother wept to me sharing how it is such a hard place to be in when you have to make decisions quickly for your child when they are in so much pain. How they could not go with you on the helicopter so you were by yourself. How you were not allowed to receive pain medication until you were on the helicopter and what relief you felt to ease the pain of your raw, exposed skin.

My goodness this visual to me is what the Lord does for us. We have to walk through it sometimes, friends. We have to feel it in its extremeness before we can get on the helicopter to get some relief. That is how we know the relief is there. How we feel God’s touch in it all. We have to feel the pain, raw and exposed, before we see His grace in it. He knows we can walk through it with Him and it might hurt but he knows when we need relief and gives that to us in a friend, bible verse or devotion.

Jump forward a few weeks, Livingston worked hard to get out of the burn center but looked a bit zombie-ish when I first saw him. His skin on the large majority of his body had been scrapped off. When he was thrown into the shower it melted back on to him so to prevent infection the burn center had to get it all off. They had to expose that fresh skin underneath with all the nerve endings being hit by the fresh air for it to be clean and sanitary before wrapping you in cadaver skin for healing. I remember you sharing with me that it was excruciating; however, the worst was hearing others being “aired out” after their burns. We saw each other in Greenville at Livingston’s childhood home. When I first saw him he was wrapped in gauze from head to toe with what looked like a hockey mask on. His hands were wrapped to where you could not even utilize your fingers. Sweet friends, the dearest part is that your father text for you so we could communicate. You could not really talk so this what what we did. You told him what to type, he would text me and then I would respond. What a servant-heart your Father has!

I remember turning the corner into your home for the first time and seeing you. Everyone warned me that it would be hard to see but all I kept thinking was that you were alive. The first words I said to you and your parents was that you looked great! He really did. When you see someone alive, go through something and still are breathing and talking on the other end you celebrate it. That is what Livingston was for me. He was talking kind of and joking around. His strength was truly amazing. It actually worked out so well with my internship in Greenville that summer. Everyday after work I would go sit with him. With Livingston not being able to go outside we used our creativity to make fun inside. From building our own putt-putt courses inside, to hanging out with your family constantly, to watching movies and so much more we spent the most intentional time together. We did not know we were building a foundation for this life we have created the past 9 years but we did. We created the life of playfulness, finding rest and most importantly building relationships with your family and friends. The deeper I got into your life the deeper I wanted to stay.

What a summer! Maybe that is why Summer is now one of my favorite seasons? It reminds me of Livingston and our first one together. That was the best and my goodness they just keep getting better together! As I look back on all of our adventures together and how it started with an accident. Technically golf interim but the accident is where it really flourished and thrived. Where we realized summers were made for filling the unknown time with what you love and who you love.

I truly am amazed how the Lord continues to use our story that started with brokenness and quickly turned into blessing. He used that burnt boat for the building blocks of our relationship. It is not the only burning boat in our relationship. We have gone through the hard stuff and came out the other side stronger. He does that for us. Exposes are raw and gives us relief in it. Then uses it to build our stories of impact for Him. He uses it for relief when we are going through the hard stuff to remember that we went through something really bad, that we can get through anything that comes our way.

Sweet friends, can we find comfort in that today? Can we pray over these verses for our struggles in our life. That we will find joy in the strength that comes from the struggle. That all we must do is ask for help and it will uphold us. That we can turn our story into a song of victory!

Nehemiah 8:10 || “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Isaiah 41:10 || “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Exodus 15:2 || “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”

If you are in the middle of your burning boat I pray that it will give you the building blocks to create your song of victory and that your story will bring comfort to someone down the road.

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