Out of Darkness

“The real battles are with forces no one has seen. Shine the light in every dark place you can find and you’ll be amazed at what is revealed” – Braden

“Thought of y’all when I heard this song” – Braden’s Aunt Karla

“I think your son’s story would resonate with many and was wondering if either you and/or your wife would be interested in telling his story to our students”. – 7th Grade School Teacher

2018 Walk Out of Darkness

Have you ever moved to a new home?

Some people never leave their first home and others never would consider moving from their hometown. Others, like myself have to move constantly, like a pesky fly at the Dairy Queen. They can’t seem to just light in one place and stay. I grew up in a small town where “moving” meant loading a livestock trailer with all your worldly possessions and hauling them across town or a few blocks to a newer house.

Later, after having graduated and entered a career in the corporate world, moving became “relocation”. Sometimes it’s voluntary, but too often it must be done due to a company need. In any case, particularly the latter, relocation really stinks.

Moving away from friends, family, and familiar. Moving into uncertainty  is miserable, not only for yourself but exponentially for those you love. Trust me. I’m now an expert, having relocated seven times with my company.

When I hear a successful executive give his/her work history and cite that many moves, there is a part of me that always wonders, if they’re such a high performer why couldn’t they hold down a steady job? But success often means moving talent around. No matter the reason, moving just stinks.

On the brighter side, re-lo comes with its perks. Typically, there is a moving bonus, all expenses are often paid including a guaranteed buy-out if your house doesn’t sell. You also have an opportunity to continually find a place to better suit your needs, including things like a pool if you’re so inclined.

When we moved from Cinco Ranch in Katy and bought our home in Prosper, we all knew the place just felt right. It looked a lot like the home we’d left. It also already had a pool which was a deal breaker to get the kids to willingly make the move. Previously, our pool was about five feet above the ground, full of grass clippings, and had the brand, “Intex” painted across its side. We went through at least four of them.

Moving with my family, the transfer to the DFW area was our fifth in 20 years. Prior moves were done as a single. In 2014, I  finally convinced the family to move one final time, since my career was on the line. The kids eventually came around. At least they got to pick their new room and decorate it like they wanted. 

Our new home had been owned by a couple who also had a boy and a girl. The larger room had been occupied by the daughter and the small one by the younger brother. Of course, Braden got the bigger room, which meant the chandelier in hers  and the urban skateboard graffitied wallpaper in his had to be swapped and walls painted.

One thing I never liked was Braden’s bedroom location. Tucked into a corner behind the game room, it felt isolated by location. One good thing is the large east facing window which allows bright light to flood the room when the blinds are left open. If Braden left them closed, it felt too dark.

It was dark the day he left it.  I could go into a long discussion about the dark and what the Bible has to say about it. Although I’m no Bible scholar, I can say there are more negative references about the dark and positive references about the light. God’s word tells us the dark is where sin hides its face. Where dark forces reside. And where fear thrives.

For months prior to Braden’s death, we felt a sense of dark forces somehow working within those four walls although there were no tangible signs. Obviously, we couldn’t see nor hear anything. We could however see visible signs we were losing our son, slowly but certainly. On the day before Halloween, we did. We lost a battle in a very spiritual war.

Halloween never had been a holiday we enjoyed. We’d be fine to skip it altogether. Maybe this year, we will.


Coincidentally, on the morning of Braden’s memorial service, the  American Foundation for Suicide Prevention had planned a national event called, Out of the Darkness Walk. The local chapter held the walk just five minutes from First Baptist Church and I decided to go.

I know this sounds crazy, but I did it to confirm Satan wasn’t going to keep me on my back but rather our family was going to stand and walk forward. I was joined by a couple of family members from out of town and some friends from the community.

It was a gorgeous sunny weekend with mild temperatures and a slight breeze. Perfect for a walk. Before leaving that morning, I was up before dawn. The previous evening, Cathy and I spent long hours into the night selecting photos for the memorial. I’d hauled down six or seven albums and was returning them to the media room just off Braden’s room. 

We had closed his bedroom door expecting it to be months or years before we unlocked it. It was a dark place we knew would remain closed for some time. As I balanced the over-stuffed photo albums up the stairs, I got a text notice. The message from my sister Karla read, “Thought of y’all when I heard this song”. She does that every once in awhile and they’re usually pretty darn good tunes.

I clicked the text link and slipped the phone into my PJ pocket to continue putting away the photograph albums. As the song played, I immediately was moved. Rarely does that happen on the first listen to any song. Now, as I walked into the game room and leaned on the pool table, I pulled out the phone to see the artist and to just stare at the phone. As tears began falling, my eyes moved to Braden’s bedroom door.

The sun had risen enough to see light under the bottom space of the door, but it was oddly bright. The door wasn’t closed! It was standing about two feet open and sunlight flooded the area  into the small hallway. The song titled, “Tremble” was about the power of the name of Jesus and how He makes the darkness tremble. How He overcomes fear. To this day, I still get chills when I recall that image of the light shining through that open door.

The light was oddly bright

That morning, I stepped into a brightly sunlit park to walk alongside friends and family. Since that day, our family has walked into places we never dreamed we’d go. Caitlin has walked into her school and has danced on many a stage. Just recently, Cathy and I walked together onto the floor of a gymnasium full of middle school students to speak about how they could play their part in saving lives and in changing their culture. We’ve all walked paths we never dreamed.

Only a month ago, I finally opened Braden’s bedroom door all the way. I went to the blinds and opened them fully and sat down to allow the flood of tears to wash away some pain. I prayed against the forces of darkness that once filled that space. And I thanked God for revealing His truth, that we do face unseen forces but not alone.

Who knows where God will lead from here. All we can do is surrender to Him and remain determined to walk out of the darkness.

Prayer:  Although we lost one battle, Lord thank you for assurance that you already won the war. Protect us in our battles. In the all powerful name of Jesus. Amen.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10


Tremble

– By Mosaic

Peace… Bring it all to peace
The storm surrounding me,
Let it break at Your name

Still.. call the sea to still
The rage in me to still
Every wave at Your name

Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear

Breathe… call these bones to live
Call these lungs to sing
Once again, I will praise

Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear

Your name is a light the shadows can’t deny
Your name cannot be overcome

Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear. Your name is alive forever lifted high

YOUR NAME CAN NOT BE OVERCOME!

6 thoughts on “Out of Darkness

  1. I am so thankful that you both have chosen to walk in the Light and as a result are being a Light to others your life touches. The things you have learned can only be taught through God’s Spirit and only He knows where this is taking you. But as you have surrendered to Him, it will be a journey no one could have dreamed of.
    Ephesians 3:20 He is able to do exceedingly far above anything we could ask or imagine according to His Spirit that is a work within you.
    Love, Mom

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As always , beautifully written from the heart. Satan continues to tremble because you are “more than Overcomers” by letting Him take you ALL by the hand and lead you to His light and by BEING the light as you march on in this Battle. Will be there soon to “walk out of darkness” with you again🥰

    Liked by 1 person

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