Our family suffered a shocking loss this year (2015) but out of it came inspiration, understanding, and a desire to inspire others. I would have never thought that something so positive could come out of something so painful.

My husband (step-father to my 2 daughters) unexpectedly passed away this year (2015) three weeks before he was to turn 45. I was devastated. I didn’t have a stack of pictures, clothes, and other funeral related items ready to go at a moment’s notice because I, like most, didn’t think it would happen. I started going through our computers looking for pictures and videos but most of the pictures on his computer didn’t have him in them only me, the kids, or other family. He didn’t have much on his computer at all because he mostly used it for music, pictures and creating videos so when I saw a document titled Hi xxxxxx (name is left out for privacy) I opened it.

The Letter

All information specifically pertaining to the recipient, me, or our children has been removed.

“Hi xxxxxx,

— This is the plan God has for you in this journey. Life in stride with Jesus makes the journey so much more worthwhile. At least for me it has. I am still far from perfect, but it has taught me so much. I now have the ability to forgive myself for what I have done in the past, and have found the ability to forgive others as well. This is the greatest way I have grown in my life. This was realized through the grace that was given to me by God though I don’t deserve it. I spent way too many years wasted in fear and anger. I know you will find this same grace. It has been promised to us all who accept it.

I feel so blessed —-. I know God has a special purpose for this. — I try to look forward to what life has in store, rather than dwelling in the past.

Only thing that is sure in life is that it is way too short even if we live to 100. We must be filled with the Spirit. That is through accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. By reading and knowing the word helps us live in it. Helps us raise our family righteously and teach them how to carry on. I accepted Jesus years ago which saved me. But only by reading and understanding the Bible has brought me closer to God. Not that I can say I understand everything. I don’t, but that is why I keep reading and praying for understanding. Jesus walks with me every day, and many times protects me. Since he doesn’t actually, like happens in the movies, come in a vision and necessarily come down, sit on a rock, and speak to me, He does through the Word. I frequently speak with him and this grows me closer in spirit. I have taken many journeys in this life and He has been there for all of them. Whether I knew it or not. By recognizing His footsteps next to us is the most important journey we will ever take. Knowing he is there for us, guiding and protecting us. He wants this for us I believe with every step we take.

I often times, since the wreck*, wonder what happened to me in those moments. I still can’t remember. I believe there is a message from God in that reality. FAITH.
Faith that HE will protect me!
Faith, that it is all in his hands, Alone!
Faith, to let go to what may happen!
Faith is belief when you can’t explain it.
Faith is giving it when you don’t have it or know where it might come from.
Faith is letting go of control, knowing God will take the reins.

We often times want to be in control as humans, but we are not. If we would just give the wheel to God he would steer us right. We fight this so we end up on the path we do. We often times believe we control our destiny but we do not. If we would let go we would find that he catches us every time. Our fear keeps us from doing so. We often times don’t give to others because of our anger or hatred, or fear. Angry at those who have wronged us so we don’t want to give to them. Hatred to those we don’t think are deserving of our gifts. Fear we might not get back that which we give. Don’t we think that God may have a reason to be Angry with us? Don’t we think that we don’t deserve what God has for us? Hasn’t God always made sure that we are provided for? We don’t deserve any of what he gives us. That’s what he is trying to teach us. Grace is given not earned! It is given for acceptance not works. Faith is blind! He wants us to give it ALL to him even if we don’t always know why. This is His domain. He will always protect us even in death! That has been a constant struggle for me and in the accident* I learned instantly that it is HIS. I find the ultimate power in releasing control to God. He had the wheel when I did not. He held my head when I needed it. He is always protecting and comforting me even though I don’t know why or how! I constantly have to remind myself of this.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man, and God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13.  

Here I stand again. There are many examples of faithfulness in the Bible. This one is about temptation. But He protects us from so much more. He always provides, ever protects, and gives us grace without us deserving. We just need to open our hands to Him and give what has been given us. This is what we are called to do. This is what He wants and what pleases him.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6  


* Coming home from a hospital in 2013 he was in a terrible accident that no one could believe he survived yet he walked away with one scratch and a sore shoulder. He told me several times God had a plan and he survived for a purpose he just didn’t know exactly what it was. The letter was not even started at the time of the accident. I am grateful to have had the additional 2 years with him and I believe with all my heart that the letter and what it has inspired was part of his purpose and God’s plan.

In 2013 he shared with me that he was writing the letter and having a hard time with it because there were still painful memories involving this person. I was unaware of the letter’s contents until I found it days after he passed away. When I read the letter something in me changed. I felt like the letter was more meant for me to read than the intended recipient though that probably wasn’t his intention when writing it.

So much of my life had turned into trying to control everything in my life. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons and even doing the wrong things for what I thought were the right reasons. I was always stressed and was always trying to fix something or make sure everything went exactly perfect which never happened so that caused even more stress. I always seemed to be in panic mode. I couldn’t hand over anything to anyone for fear it wouldn’t be done right and I would have to fix it. God managed to find something I couldn’t fix. Death. Don’t think it didn’t briefly cross my mind to try to find a way. In trying to control everything in my life I often found myself angry or disappointed and usually taking it out on my family. I spent so much time trying to be worthy of and respected by man instead of God and Tyler knew this. About two weeks before he died he told me he worried about me worrying and being stressed all the time.

I guess I just assumed he had sent the letter but it turned out he never did. In my mind that just reinforced that I was meant to read the letter and it had a bigger purpose than he originally intended. His death and the letter are part of the plan God has for me. Though I would have preferred his death not be part of the plan I honestly don’t see how this would have unfolded and grown without that loss. I have realized that everything I have fixed or ensured went perfect probably would have had the same outcome if I had depended more on God…just without all the panic, stress, and tears. God decides not me. The sad part is, all of the things and people that needed guidance and love (including Tyler) were pushed aside while I was busy fixing things.

The letter gave me so much strength to get through the days, weeks, and months to come and changed my life, my relationship with God, and what drives me. I was so impacted by the letter that I had a portion read at his funeral in the hope that it would have the same impact on others. I don’t know if it had an effect on everyone but I have heard from one person that their life was changed by his words.

When I would think to myself I wasn’t going to make it through this or when I would start worrying his words would pop in my head. God is in control. God will protect me. As the months have passed, the way I live, think, and act in my daily life has changed so much. I have always believed in God but never lived for God. I was saved in 2001 but never truly understood the magnitude of it or the responsibility I had. I didn’t even really know how to pray but realized if I was going to ask God to take my grief and my burdens I had better learn how to ask. I prayed for something positive to come out of his death and prayed for guidance in making sure that happened. This project is where that has led my daughters and me.

My motivation for the things I do and the decisions I make are completely different these days. I actually pick up my Bible everyday instead of using it as a prop. I am far from perfect but I try very hard to make what I do worthy of God as opposed to worthy of man which was my motivation before. Perfection in the eyes of God is far different than perfection in the eyes of man and understanding that took a huge burden from me.

Learning to hand my troubles and worries over to God and let go of things that were only hurting me has changed everything for me. I was even laid off from my job shortly after Tyler’s death and I do worry a bit but nothing like I would have before. I would be ripping my hair out frantic over it. I know God has a plan and everything that has happened is part of it. Like Tyler mentioned in his letter, I find that I have so much more control over my life than I ever did before just by not trying to take control from God.

Tyler’s letter and love for God is the inspiration for Operation Shine the Light and this project is dedicated to his memory and the impact he had on our lives even in death. If his letter describing his faith can impact at least two lives (it is actually 4 that I know of including my daughters) what would be the impact of the testimony of thousands? Just a glimpse into his trust and faith in Jesus Christ was enough to change lives.

With thousands of testimonies and accounts of God’s love from all backgrounds, cultures, childhoods, situations, etc., we can change the lives of so many. If people could read that someone else has been through similar trials and tribulations and still put their trust and faith in God and Jesus Christ it may change their lives forever and, it would please God.

If you would like to participate please visit the How to Participate page.